Hello everyone, my name is Rosi R. Rodriguez. I am the editor of the well-known newspaper Calle Ocho News which has been a part of this community for 19 years. I became the editor when my stepfather passed away back in March of 2015. Both my mother Marta R. Rosell and my step father Luis Pardo are my heroes and have served to inspire who I am and where we are headed.
My step father, like countless others, had to flee his home country of Cuba due to persecution of media and seek to start a new life here in Miami. He was offered a job at the Sun Sentinel over 20 years ago without even knowing how to speak English. He started his own newspaper without even knowing how to turn on a computer. That kind of hard work, determination, and dedication is what our newspaper Calle Ocho News is all about. My mother worked multiple jobs while the newspaper was getting started just to make ends meet as well. When I first became the editor, I had a mission to accomplish and that is all it was at first. Now, this neighborhood and its people are my passion…
I graduated from Florida International University back in April 2001 with a double major in International Business and Management. Like many of our youth nowadays I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I worked as a loan processor and then a mortgage broker. I liked the real-estate industry, I just did not like the fact that my duties everyday had no real meaning to me.
In the past year, I have had the pleasure of getting to know the neighborhood I represent a lot better as well as having had the pleasure of being exposed to the movers and shakers of Little Havana and I must say I am extremely proud of so many people. While I have had the pleasure of meeting many of them in person, there are still a large group that I am still researching and looking for because as we speak there is a lot of land being purchased and transferred in Little Havana. All these people have had varying degrees of involvement in the neighborhood but If you are like me, you know that the size of the task does not matter it’s the intentions with which things are done that should matter most.
I have met people like Pati Vargas of Pati Vargas Entertainment who has been the main person behind Viernes Culturales (the monthly iconic Cultural Friday event for the past 19 years held on the last Friday of every month) for the past 8 years. Dr. Paul S. George who has a PH. D in history and dedicates his life to giving twelve different history tours focused on just Little Havana. I also met Corinna Moebius who is known by anyone and everyone and is also currently getting her PH. D and writing her thesis on Little Havana. These are just some of the people I have had the pleasure of meeting and admire greatly. These people have told me stories that make me happy, sad, laugh, and lastly stories that bring both tears of sadness and joy to my eyes. Whether it’s the story about Guillermina Hernandez that has owned Los Pinareños on 8 st for 53 years or the man that lives on the street because he cannot find a place to rent that will allow his dog, these are the people who truly make up the neighborhood. This neighborhood and the street Calle Ocho have a very significant meaning to many people and I want to tell their stories.
Commissioners that seem to be paying extra attention to Little Havana like Joe Carollo who inaugurated the Little Havana flag, made a 30 foot Christmas tree possible in Domino park and had Pitbull named honorary Mayor of Little Havana has made it their sole purpose to do positive things that are done with the best of intentions despite the backlash that has been received from opposing parties. Others I am looking forward to meet are Manolo Reyes and Eileen Higgins. I am extremely proud to see everyone on the same page about the same area.
While I have not had the pleasure of meeting Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla of The Barlington Group which happens to own the land where you can nowadays find the famous Ball and Chain, Velvet Crème, Azucar, Union Beer, The Tower Hotel, Ella’s Oyster, and many more, I feel like I know them both from all I have gathered about them and I can only say that their parents must be very proud as should the rest of the community for what they have accomplished in our beloved Little Havana.
Finally, The Bush Brothers of Mad Room Hospitality who run the operations of Ball and Chain as well as Taquerias Mexicana and the new Los Altos which I felt honored to attend the launching of. They have created what I can only describe as a seductively secretive night club on the 2nd floor of the Taquerias restaurant. These men are legendary and making history on Calle Ocho on the daily. Their stories deserve to be told and read.
I know there are many people that I do not know yet, but one thing is for sure. Everyone in Little Havana will know me moving forward. I want everyone to know me. Not just the movers and the shakers but the whole community. I want them to see and know the face of Calle Ocho News. I want to extend my families resource to you the community, so you can make it yours. Let’s stay in touch I want to hear from you. I want you to inform me on your community wants, needs, feelings, and desires. I have created the email address [email protected] so that you may have an open line of communication with me.
Now on to my message… Yes, of LOVE… This message is to everyone… Whether you are a developer, a government official, or a business owner on Calle 8 the message remains the same. I would like to ask that all these amazing people remember that what EVERYONE needs is LOVE is. If you are fighting for the good of the community remember that above all else, we are all human and we all make mistakes. No one is perfect. No one deserves to live in the shadow of past mistakes and I am sure no one likes to be reminded of how they have messed up in the past. All of us are someone’s daughter, son or father or mother. While we may not always agree on the same things, it is imperative that we respect each other’s differences and perspectives as humans. After all, none of us have walked in each other’s shoes and it is not our job to judge. During this season of LOVE, I want to remind our community members not to lose sight of that message regardless of what may be going on. I am extremely proud to see everyone on the same page about the same area.
We are living a time when it seems like all forces are collaborating and I am happy to be involved in the change we all seek to be a part of which is to make the most of the area by bringing events and attracting the right kind of attention.
This is just the beginning with respect to meeting these key people and telling their stories. The people of Little Havana are made up of the residents, the business owners, the visitors, the tourists and I do not want to leave anyone out. In January we will tell the begin by telling the story of Guillermina Hernandez of Los Pinareños and follow up with a new person for you to know every month and allow the entire South Florida community to meet and get to know the people who make Little Havana and Calle Ocho what it is today!
Rosi R. Rodriguez
Editor in Chief