Renato Pérez lives in a cozy mountain town in southeastern Tennessee, yet his mornings are packed with Latin American newspaper headlines, Cuban radio broadcasts, and multilingual international briefings. After surveying the myriad reports, it’s his turn to inform readers.
Pérez, 72, writes Cuban Colada, a high-profile blog on the The Miami Herald site that posts daily updates on current events in Cuba. Based on the subject matter, it’s hard to imagine that this blog is brewed at a peaceful retreat in the Great Smoky Mountains.
“Blogging keeps me in contact with people who are interested in the same subject,” says Pérez, a native of Chile. A longtime journalist, Perez transferred the skills he acquired in busy newsrooms to the online blogging world, joining the increasing number of older Latinos in the blogosphere.
The Hispanic-led blogosphere is booming. “Hispanics as a whole represent about 20 percent of U.S. bloggers, while we represent 15 to 16 percent of the population,” says Guatemala-born Juan Tornoe, 40. His blog, Hispanic Trending, tracks cultural and economic trends in the Latino market. What's the big attraction? “Normally, a blog encourages interaction," says Tornoe. “The social aspect of a blog is attractive to Latinos.”
Hispanics find blogs “very liberating,” says blogger Marisa Treviño, 51. “Because more Latinos and Latinas are getting involved in the political process, there’s no longer a stigma against speaking out.” Born in Spain to a Mexican American mother, in 2004 Treviño founded Latina Lista, a blog focused on politics and culture and geared to Hispanic women. The site attracts some 300,000 hits a month.
Diversity thrives in the Latino blogosphere, with interests ranging from new Chicano literature to South American politics. Writing in English or Spanish, Hispanic bloggers may hone in on very specific issues, from bilingual child-raising (Spanglish Baby) and cardiovascular disease (Corazón Hispano) to Latino fashion trends (Soy Fashionista) and Hispanic cuisine (Latinfoodie, Gabriela's Kitchen). Connecting through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn, Hispanic bloggers often bring decades of experience to interested readers worldwide.
And Latino bloggers 50+ are getting as much as they’re giving. “Blogging keeps me busy and happy,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist-turned-blogger Al Martinez, 80. Of Basque origin and the author of a dozen books, he uses his Al Martinez on Everything Else blog for the essays he’d always wanted to draft while at the Los Angeles Times. In his spare time, he applies his 60 years of industry experience by contributing to two other blogs and leading a writing workshop.
Chicana poet and novelist Lisa Alvarado, 54, surveys new Latino literature for La Bloga. She loves when readers discuss her entries. “At a certain level, everyone can be a critic,” she says. “Through the blogosphere, we’ve been able to swap work and get each other’s feedback.” Like many of her counterparts, Alvarado blogs to establish a conversation around her interests and network internationally.
Blogging serves as a writing exercise for Puerto Rican communications expert Rissig Licha. He started his blog, Apuntes de Propaganda, to prepare for writing his novel. “I wanted to discipline myself to the habit of writing daily, something I had done when I was a journalist. The more you write, the better you write,” the 57-year-old says. Now only a couple of chapters away from finishing the book, the author says his blog posts—mainly op-eds—provided the right training for him.
Martinez predicts more and more boomers will join the blogosphere: “Blogs are just getting started,” he says. Those interested in starting their own blogs will find plenty of resources.
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