Anecdote: Publishing Business in Mexico Is Good, but It Can Get You Exiled, Jailed or Killed

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Don Heriberto Deandar Martinez in his office in Reynosa. In the background, hangs a portrait of his father, Don Heriberto Deandar Amador. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez in September 2005
Don Heriberto Deandar Martinez in his office in Reynosa. In the background, hangs a portrait of his father, Don Heriberto Deandar Amador. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez in September 2005

Third generation managing El Mañana

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition June 2018

Just across the border, in Reynosa, there is a newspaper that has been, very much, a part of the daily life of the communities that it serves. Mr. Heriberto Deandar Amador, a brave newspaper publisher and the patriarch of the legendary Deandar family, founded his first daily newspaper in 1932 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas Mexico.

His dream was to keep the residents of the area informed and to fight political corruption to the max. He was not afraid of any consequence because his conviction as a newspaperman was pure and intact even though many of his enemies were powerful and unscrupulous. Living a life like this is often exciting but can put you in a position that forces you to choose a self-imposed exile. A decision like this takes you far away from your family and business; this is what happened.

During the forties, his newspaper building was sprayed with bullets that almost took his life. He barely escaped the vicious attack. Unfortunately, Vicente Villasana owner of El Mundo daily newspaper in Tampico, Tamaulipas was not so fortunate, as he was murdered by the political power in place at the time. The patriarch of the Deandar family and Villasana had campaigned exposing the political injustices of the Governor of Tamaulipas, Pedro Gonzalez at that time.

Things changed the following year when General Raul Garate became the new interim Governor of Tamaulipas and he named Mr. Heriberto Deandar Amador interim Mayor of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. His life as the editor of the newspaper was always full of activities and he faced difficulties when he exposed corrupt officials and organized crime. He intervened to bring about justice, often using front-page headlines like; “Nuevo Laredo wants no mercy, but JUSTICE is demanded”.

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In 1947, he started El Mañana in Reynosa and brought what was considered a very modern printing press capable of producing one full page at a time. Deandar Amador was a businessman who had perseverance, vision, and goals even at times when funds to cover the cost of paper and ink were limited.

Second Generation Takes the Reins

It 1963, the patriarch fell ill and his son Heriberto Deandar Martinez, age 22 came from Mexico City where he was attending the National School of Political Science. He remained in Reynosa because his father’s health took a turn for the worse and in his father’s absence, some employees were shirking their assignments and stealing. Young Heriberto helped manage the business under his father’s direction and stayed on as leader of the publishing company’s management that he shared with other members of the family.

The new leader of the business, young Heriberto Deandar Martinez faced numerous challenges. These were the usual challenges of a business that was undercapitalized. They often faced employee strikes that paralyzed the newspaper business, however, the daily routine would continue. “Fortunately, we won against the strikers and everything went back to normal, but we have faced other strikes in the past”, Deandar Martinez stated.

El Mañana newspaper has demonstrated a firm commitment to defend the constitution and the rights of the people. They have faced other types of attacks, for example, by a governor who wanted to ruin the publication because the editorial of the newspaper criticized him.

“In Mexico, things are very different compared to the U.S.” Deandar Martinez said, “In the U.S., you can sue, and the law is the law. When Mexico was under the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI)president, if you did not submit, they would apply the law to you, but not the one that is supposed to protect the country and its people, but their own. They would apply it any way they wanted to,” Deandar Martinez stated.

He has faced challenging situations in his life but when Carlos Salinas de Gortari, president of Mexico from 1988 to 1994attacked him, this became a dangerous situation. His life and freedom were on the block. President Salinas had Jorge Carpizo, the attorney general who was the president’s strong and effective enforcer, come after him.

According to Deandar Martinez, the problem originated thru former Tamaulipas Governor Manuel Cavazos Lerma who also hated any type of opposing leadership. “If you remember they jailed the most powerful oil union leader in Mexico, Joaquin Hernández Galicia “La Quina”. In 1989 they also got rid of Carlos Jongitud Barrios, leader of the National Teachers Union of the Republic,” Deandar Martinez stated. President Salinas had a master plan to stay in power for 25 or 35 years using other people similar to when President Plutarco Elias Calles continued to wield his power behind the scenes.

President Salinas’ final year in power experienced a number of adverse events. There was the murder of the ruling party presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, and the uprising in Chiapas, etc. These events led to an important social crisis, which became an economic crisis that imploded fully due to actions during the first days of the next administration under President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León.

Salinas referred to this crisis as the “December mistake” as he argued that it was unleashed under his successor’s tenure and could have been avoided. “During Salinas’ presidency, Jose Ruiz Massieu, former President Salinas’ ex-brother-in-law was killed, others were put in jail and 500 members of the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD) disappeared forever.  Presently we have a democracy in Mexico. It is weak, but I hope it can last” Deandar Martinez stated.

Self-imposed Exile

Left to right: Heriberto Deandar Amador (His portrait is seen in the background) with General Alvaro Obregón of Sonora. General Obregón had lost his arm in 1915 during the Battle of Celaya as he was fighting Francisco “Pancho” Villa. They nicknamed him “El Manco de Celaya.” This photo was taken in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas during Obregón’s visit around 1927. He was president from 1920 to 1924.
Left to right: Heriberto Deandar Amador (His portrait is seen in the background) with General Alvaro Obregón of Sonora. General Obregón had lost his arm in 1915 during the Battle of Celaya as he was fighting Francisco “Pancho” Villa. They nicknamed him “El Manco de Celaya.” This photo was taken in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas during Obregón’s visit around 1927. He was president from 1920 to 1924.

At one time, while fighting President Salinas’ government, Deandar Martinez fled to McAllen until things cooled down. The government had accused him and ten of his employees of drug trafficking and tax evasion. False scenarios were created to incriminate him even though most of the state of Tamaulipas knew that they were all lies.

“I have never used drugs, I do not know drugs, and that’s it,”Deandar Martinez told Texas Border Business. The key element for his defense was his innocence, he had nothing to do with what he was being accused of. He was able to withstand the tremendous power of a president in office who unleashed the full force of the federal government. To top it off, the Governor of Tamaulipas, Manuel Cavazos Lerma was also heavily involved in the same effort.

When President Salinas and his governor were not able to defeat Don Heriberto, they offered him a deal. “They suggested that I ask for forgiveness and they would lift all accusations against me. I declined,” Deandar Martinez stated.

By accepting the government’s offer his problems would have gone away and he would have had the chance to go back to Reynosa and manage his business as if nothing had happened. The president’s offer came thru a very special and important emissary, Governor Manuel Cavazos Lerma, but Deandar Martinez felt they were the ones who had to apologize to him instead.

His situation changed for the better when Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León was elected Mexico’s president. Zedillo Ponce de León was not in agreement with the prior administration and he was responsible for arresting Raul Salinas de Gortari, the older brother of Mexico’s former president Carlos Salinas, who served as the president’s aide and as the government food distribution officer. In early 1994, Raul Salinas de Gortari was arrested on charges of masterminding the murder of his ex-brother-in-law, Jose Ruiz Massieu.

The publishing business in Mexico is profitable and El Mañana in Reynosa has been successful for over half a century. The family also operates in Matamoros. The El Mañana in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas is over seventy years old and is managed by Ninfa, Deandar Martinez’ sister. An evening daily called La Tarde in Reynosa is operated by Orlando, a younger brother. Heriberto Deandar Robinson, Jr. his son who represents the third and newest generation is the Editor of El Mañana. He ran the operation while his father was in exile and now runs a successful publishing house independent from the family business.

“El Mañana has the favor of the readers. Professionals write the newspaper, especially for the readers. We do not print a newspaper to please ourselves,” Deandar Martinez stated.

He spoke about plans to invest in equipment for the business, but he feels that the essence and the spirit of the newspaper are worth more than the presentation and everything else. He talked about how proud he is of the editorial content they put out and the policies they have in place to protect the integrity of the publication.

As a business owner, Deandar Martinez shares his thoughts and he is of the opinion that business owners should interpret the market to provide a better service. Deandar Martinez is married to Ninfa and has five children, three girls, and two boys. His son Carlos is the owner of La Cucaracha restaurant. Heriberto, Jr. publishes Hora Cero newspaper with circulation in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon and owns his own newspaper printing company called DEROSA, S. A. de C. V.

NOTE: This is an Anecdote, originally published in 1985, for that reason many things have or could have changed.