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"Guanaquiando": Chatting with Central American Media in L.A.

NCM Profile

NCM, Astrid Martinez Posted: Aug 06, 2003

This is not just a television show and newspaper this is a project of communication, a way of saying that we (Central Americans) have to contribute to society by setting a better standard for the media. When you publish a good article, you give a piece of yourself to others. This is a project of communication to the people, says Manuel Olmos, publisher of Centro-Amrica Weekly and producer of the Guanaquiando L.A. Show.

In 2000, Olmos founded the only Central American publication at the time as well as a one-hour variety show in the beacon for Central American immigrants, the Pico Union District in Los Angeles. The Spanish-language newspaper's 10,000 copies can be found in the racks of bustling Latino markets, pupuseras, discounted clothing and electronics stores and, more recently, in local colleges and universities.

We launched the monthly where the community was, Olmos says. Central Americans did not have a voice or a positive reflection of their people in the media.

With hundreds of other Latino media outlets, Olmos -- who began M.O. Promotions in 1997 -- felt there needed to be a space to promote the culture and the art of Central Americans in Los Angeles. Olmos says he wants to plant a seed for future Central Americans in the United States.

Both the publication and the show serve as a bridge to keep us educated and keep our roots alive, he says. Having Central Americans on television and papers impacts our self image.

According to the 2000 Census more than 400,000 Central Americans live in Los Angeles County, and half of this population is Salvadorian. The publication caters to this community in its 15 Department, where Central Americans are highlighted for their contributions to their community, Central American articles, which inform readers on the latest international news, and Asi Es Mi Tierra (This is how my country is), which offers poetry, short stories, and cultural articles pertaining to Central Americans.

We do not publish yellow journalism or cover current events, says Olmos. Issues such as immigration, culture, and what Central Americans in the United States are contributing are our focus.

Immigration is a recurring issue in Centro-Amrica Weekly. The newspaper features updates on the Temporary Protection Status which was granted to more than 290 million Salvadorians after Hurricane Mitch swept numerous countries in Central America. The pending status of allowing illegal immigrants to attain a drivers license is another prevalent issue. During the Iraq war, Centro-Amrica Weekly published an in depth article on the first solider to be killed during combat, who was Guatemalan. According to Olmos, the solider was undocumented and signed up illegally in order to be granted American citizenship.

Guanaquiando -- which is a Salvadorian idiom for talking, laughing and being Salvadorian -- is aired on KSFV Channel 26 Thursday and Saturday in Los Angeles county. Olmos estimates that 25,000 to 45,000 regular viewers tune in for interviews with athletes (including the first Salvadorian to win the IBF 130 pound boxing championship and Salvadorian soccer player Mauricio Cienfuegos from the Los Angeles soccer team Galaxy), Salvadorian politicians (such as the mayor of San Salvador, Hector Silva) and writers such as bilingual children's book author Jorge Argueta.

Despite its name, Centro-Amrica Weekly is published once a month. Olmos hopes to make it a weekly newspaper, and also to increase the frequency of the Guanaquiando L.A. Show. Though he plans to add an English section to the paper, Olmos will continue the Spanish-language format. It is a necessity, he says, to preserve the language and culture among young people.

I would like to see the future generations speak both languages, says Olmos. This is my contribution to this country. It is a daily effort that comes from our heart.

Centro-Amrica Weekly and
Guanaquiando L.A. Show
1543 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 404
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 386-2663

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