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La Prensa de Minnesota

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Mario Duarte in the La Prensa office

Mario Duarte in the La Prensa office, ca. 2000s. Used with the permission of Lorena Duarte.

La Prensa is the first state-wide Spanish-language and bilingual newspaper in Minnesota dedicated to informing and representing issues pertinent to the Latinx and Chicanx community.

Every ten years, the United States government conducts a census to learn about the demographics of the nation’s population. In Minnesota in 1990, the Latinx and Chicanx population was changing rapidly on pace with other parts of the country. Due to increased violence and economic disparities in Mexico, Central America, and South America, thousands of people were migrating to the United States in search of more stable living conditions. In Minnesota, industries like agriculture, meat packing, education, and healthcare recruited both low-wage migrant workers and the professional class. In order to document the new population in Minnesota, the government sought out volunteers from these communities to help conduct the 1990 census.

One such volunteer was Mario Duarte, who had moved from El Salvador in 1982 with his family in order to flee the civil war. As a census volunteer, Duarte traveled around Minnesota meeting different Latinx and Chicanx families. He noticed that there were few easy ways for them to communicate across the state with each other. Cell phones did not yet exist, and the internet was available only to a few individuals. Duarte decided that the best way to keep the community informed about current events, politics, education, and immigration was to create a bilingual newspaper in St. Paul.

At the time, there were other newspapers for communities of color in Minnesota, such as the Asian American Press and the Spokesmen Recorder. Duarte decided it was important for Latinxs and Chicanxs to have a voice also. In 1991, he started La Prensa, the first Spanish-language newspaper in the state. Since many second- and third-generation Latinx and Chicanx people (most of them living in the Twin Cities) did not speak Spanish, let alone read it, Duarte decided to make the newspaper bilingual in order to reach more people.

Under Duarte’s tenure as editor, La Prensa was a weekly publication. When the newspaper was first established, he was its only employee. He gathered the stories, completed the layout, and delivered the newspapers to local businesses, schools, and community centers in the Twin Cities. Duarte also wanted to ensure that the rural Latinx community had access to the newspaper. He mailed out large bundles to individual towns each week; from there, they were distributed to other communities.

After working as La Prensa’s lead editor for over a decade, Duarte turned the newspaper over to his daughter, Lorena. She originally started working at the newspaper as a writer and served as lead editor between 2001 and 2006, when she returned to Minnesota after graduating from Harvard University.

Lorena Duarte was also born in El Salvador and moved with her father to the West Side of St. Paul in the late 1980s. While she was growing up, there were not many Central Americans living in Minnesota. As a result, Lorena became integrated into the dominant Chicanx and Mexican community. Her ability to understand differences with the Latinx community resulted in La Prensa covering a wide variety of stories, ensuring all ethnic groups were represented.

In 2006, the Duartes sold the newspaper to El Cine Latino Communications Networks, which later sold it to Latino Communications Network. In 2018, although La Prensa remains a weekly publication, it is distributed inside another Spanish-language newspaper, Vida y Sabor. The newspaper serves as an important place for local businesses to advertise, for community members to write editorial pieces, and for readers to learn about current events. Since La Prensa is also available online, its circulation now extends beyond Minnesota.

Editor’s note: Nouns in Spanish are gendered; Latinas are the female equivalents of Latinos. The same is true of Chicanas and Chicanos. For the sake of inclusion, this article uses the terms Latinx(s) and Chican(x)s to refer to men and women and non-binary people at the same time.

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Duarte, Lorena (former editor of La Prensa). Interview with the author, April 30, 2018.
OH 135

Interview with Mario Duarte
Oral history collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
Description: Oral history with Mario Duarte conducted on September 17, 2000, as part of the Lideres Latinos Oral History Project.

Related Images

Mario Duarte in the La Prensa office
Mario Duarte in the La Prensa office
Mario Duarte
Mario Duarte
Lorena Duarte
Lorena Duarte

Turning Point

In 2006, La Prensa is sold to El Cine Latino Communications Networks and evolves from a state-wide newspaper into an online and Twin Cities publication.



Mario Duarte and his family flee civil war in El Salvador and move to the United States.

Late 1980s

Mario and his family move to the West Side of St. Paul.


Mario works as a volunteer for the United States census.


Mario starts La Prensa and becomes its editor.


Mario’s daughter, Lorena, takes over from her father as La Prensa’s editor.


Lorena moves to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to attend Harvard University. She continues to edit La Prensa.


Lorena leaves her position as editor and returns to Minnesota after graduating from Harvard.


La Prensa is sold to El Cine Latino Communications Networks.


La Prensa is run by Latino Communications Network and is available online.