El Mundo, which began its operation on February 17 1919, shortly after El Imparcial, was founded by Romualdo Real, an emigrant from the Canary Islands. He, along with is brothers created the printing press Real Hermanos and started publishing Puerto Rico Ilustrado in 1910, the first modern magazine of the Island which eventually  led to the creation of  the newspaper. The first issue of El Mundo consisted of twelve pages and in an unexpected strategy 15,000 issues were freely distributed all over Puerto Rico.

 

In 1929, Angel Ramos, a young Puerto Rican of humble origins from Manatí, that started working as a typesetter in 1924, bought El Mundo newspaper together with Jose Coll Vidal. Coll Vidal was a distinguished and respected journalist with excellent administrative skills, who started working with the paper as director in 1926. In 1944 Angel Ramos purchased the holdings Coll Vidal had in the paper leaving him as sole proprietor. Afterwards, Angel Ramos purchased WKAQ Radio, founded a TV station in 1954, and created a film and dubbing laboratory, becoming the island's first media mogul.

 

From its beginnings, El Mundo separated itself from other newspapers of the time, in terms of content as well as the use of modern technology. Contrary to other existing dailies that responded to particular political interest, such as La Correspondencia, the organ of the Partido Unión or La Democracia, associated with the Partido Liberal, El Mundo was a nonpolitical enterprise. The daily incorporated new graphic and printing technology, as well new marketing and management strategies.  El Mundo marked the beginnings of modern journalism in Puerto Rico, ressembling in its tabloid format and editorial policy The New York Times.

 

Between 1925 -1938 the circulation multiplied by threefold. That year it reached a circulation of 33,800 copies, beating its closest rival, El Imparcial, and becoming the most important newspaper in circulation and reliability. A position it held during most of the remaining 20th century. El Mundo covered the most significant events of Puerto Rico during the 20th century. In the period 1936-1939, currently digitized, it represents a primary source to study the radical turn of the Nationalist Party and the political tension that is aroused, the downfall of the traditional parties of the epoch such as the Partido Liberal, the Partido Republicano and the Partido Socialista and the emergence of a new leader and a new party that would provoke a complete turnover in Puerto Rican history and society: Luis Muñoz Marín and the Partido Popular Democrático.

 

It also covered significant social and cultural events, including original literature of Puerto Rican writers and reviews of their work. The list of writers, includes, among others, Luis Palés Matos, Luis Lloréns Torres, Julia de Burgos, René Marqués and José Luis González.  Literary critics such as Antonio S. Pedreira, Juan B. Huyke and Juan Martínez Capó contributed regularly with book reviews.

 

The downfall of El Mundo began around 1972, after a workers strike that lasted 7 months. During this period, El Nuevo Día, formerly El Dia from Ponce, under a new, dynamic administration started publishing in San Juan with a more graphic and easy to hold format than the regular tabloid type format which El Mundo had established and maintained through the years.  In spite of the efforts to revitalize the paper that included the adoption of a new format, El Mundo was never able to overcome the competition of El Nuevo Día and eventually closed on August 31, 1987.

 

 

This exhibition is a collaboration between the University of Puerto Rico Libraries, the George A. Smathers Libraries, the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC), and the Latin American Research Resources Project (LARRP).


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