A few days ago in the Dominican Republic, I had the honor of accompanying his Majesty King Juan Carlos I of Spain at the inauguration of the street which now bears his name in La Romana.
H.M. King Juan Carlos, alongside President Danilo Medina, cut the ribbon and declared the “Avenida Rey Juan Carlos I” inaugurated. This street provides direct access to Casa de Campo from the International Airport of Romana via the Coral motorway.
Ministers of the Presidency, Gustavo Montalvo and José Ramón Peralta, were also present at the ceremony as well as well-known businessmen José and Alfy Fanjul, Felipe Vicini and Ramón A. Méndez.
The Dominican Republic is one of King Juan Carlos’ most visited vacation places and he has become one of the country’s most loved visitors.
It fills me with happiness and pride to share with you that on April 21, at the VII International Conference on Transatlantic Studies held at Brown University, Cisneros: A Family History 1570-2015 was launched. It is a book inspired by my father and it crystallizes one of his biggest desires: to unearth the family history for posterity.
The text is a first edition originally created as a personal archive, but on October 15, we will be launching the publication at the Royal Academy of History in Madrid, Spain, in a format designed for a much wider audience.
While researching and journeying through the past to create Cisneros: A Family History 1570-2015, I have realized that our family DNA is made up of defining elements from modernity, such as predicting changes, innovating to bring them about and the resilience needed to live them and lead them. These are characteristics I see every day in my children and grandchildren and they remind me that this publishing venture which started as a tribute to my father’s memory is also a legacy for them and a project to continue enriching for years to come.
The book was written by José Ángel Rodríguez, with a prolog by Carmen Iglesias and an epilogue by Professor Julio Ortega. It is thanks to them it has been possible to compile our roots and give my family this beautiful gift.
I have also included an introduction I wrote in which I explain why this dream was important to me and why I would love to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it…
Following more than five decades, the restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba seems increasingly more feasible. It is something to celebrate, not just for the people in both countries, but for the whole region.
Already in 2014, several representatives from the business and political sectors as well as the Cuban-American community had expressed our support to President Barack Obama’s Administration, in his efforts to improve US relations with the island and support Cuban people living in the United States.
Eight months later, we celebrate a new stance on diplomatic dialog which we are sure will continue in line with national interests and values by improving the capacity of Cubans to work towards a more democratic and prosperous country.
It is clear the reforms announced in 2009 have helped set the foundations for positive changes, by helping Americans to reunite and better support their family members on the island. Similarly, the free flow of information, improved communications, expanded remittances and commerce, and support for Cuban civilian society have also helped the Cuban people take greater ownership of their own lives.
We are encouraged by President Barack Obama’s recent statements on his intention to continue to call on Havana to respect human rights. We now sign a new missive recognizing the White House for its efforts to propose the matter and congratulating it on its decision to take action.
For years, I have expressed myself in multiple forums, on the need to create a more integrated Latin America in order to successfully face the challenges posed to us by the current global scene. In this sense, the normalization of diplomatic relations between these two countries would be an enormous step.
Now the new objective will be to achieve a legislative framework with regards to Cuba which reflects the reality of the 21st century.
For the Cisneros family, our roots, values and legacy have always guided our actions both in our personal lives and as a company. We are proud of our roots and learning about our history became our life’s mission.
More than a decade has passed since my family and I began this great quest to explore our background. It was crystallized through publications such as, “La saga atlántica de los Jiménez Cisneros” (The Atlantic Saga of the Jiménez Cisneros Family) which was published by Fundación Cisneros… This quest led me to the town of Cisneros in Palencia, Spain, and confirmed us to be descendents of the Jiménez de Cisneros family.
It allowed my family, especially my grandchildren, to have in-depth knowledge of our roots, as well as visit the place where our ancestors lived and from where they left on an adventure to the Americas, which is extremely important for us.
It was during this quest, I recently had the opportunity to return to Palencia. I traveled through some of the most important areas of Valladolid and of course, Cisneros town, together with the National Delegate for Valladolid, Miguel Ángel Cortés; José Ma. Hernández, President of Regional Council; Carmen Fernández, Delegate for Culture; the Mayoress of Cisneros, Rosa Aldea and her team; as well as the Mayors of Frómista, Fernandez Diez Mediavilla, Pedrosa de la Vega, Arturo Calvo, Saldaña, Miguel Nozal y Becerril and Mario Granda.
La Casa del Esclusero in Frómista; La Olmeda Roman Villa in Pedrosa de la Vega; the Museo Parroquial de Arte Sacro in Becerril de Campos; as well as the Cisneros Museum and Church; were some of the main places we visited. We heard about some of the tourism projects promoting these places which are home to some of the greatest renaissance art expressions.
As the Spanish proverb says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, look to where you came from…” . Over the last seven years in our family, Villa Cisneros has already become a part of our daily lives and our history.
Recently, we have been pleased to see President Obama’s Administration take commendable steps towards improving relations with Cuba, by opening up travel to the Cuban-American community, allowing expanded remittances and purposeful travel for more Americans. Without a doubt, these are significant advances which empower the Cuban people and allow the two countries to be more connected than at any other time during the last fifty years.
Now more than ever, the United States can support Cuban people to decide their own future, by crystallizing political reforms that have already begun.
This is why a group of 46 members from the political, business and foundation sectors have written an open letter to President Obama to request he does not back down on this issue. We have listed four recommendations to deepen the reforms taking place in order to give greater freedom to both private organizations and individuals to become, either directly or indirectly, catalysts of change in Cuba:
1. Expand and safeguard travel to Cuba
2. Increase support to civilian society in Cuba
3. Prioritize relations in areas of mutual interest
4. Offer financial guarantees
I share with you the entire text, hoping we will soon see greater progress in relations between the United States and Cuba.
At least 30 people have died in Venezuela in the street protests between pro- and anti-government supporters of the past month. The economy, plagued by shortages and high inflation, is in near freefall. Politically, the polarisation long fomented by both the socialist government and the opposition has deepened even further.
Distrust, intolerance and confrontation have become the norm; how else to understand a recent ruling that banned websites deemed “harmful to the Venezuelan people”? Amid the disturbances, calls for political justice or ideology have also lost their old resonance – for both sides. The situation is no longer tenable, and it cries out for attention and help from the international community. So far, it has largely ignored Venezuela’s terrible plight.
The challenges of achieving meaningful dialogue are huge. The incendiary atmosphere makes it especially difficult for what I call “The Two Venezuelas” – one in favour of the government, the other against – to talk to each other. Efforts by both sides have so far been half-hearted, or duplicitous. Nevertheless, resolution of the country’s colossal problems requires a truly consensual project.
To begin with, both sides need to recognise the legitimacy and significance of the other, and, despite their differing national visions, to meet on common ground: their love for Venezuela and the desire to build a better future.
This better future, which Venezuelans of all socio-political persuasions can surely agree on, is a country where all opinions count, where human rights support democratic rule, and where minority rights and long term stability are nurtured. It is a country where parents can spend their time cultivating their children as good citizens instead of waiting half a day in queues to buy their groceries. It is a country where walking in the streets is safe and enjoyable, instead of fraught with peril as it often is now. It is a country that gives its youth the possibility of dreams, and where journalism is not a life-threatening profession. In brief, it is a country where everyone has the right to speak, and be listened to respectfully, and where that rich dialogue engenders growth of all kinds.
With so many currently mourning the loss to violence of beloved family members and friends, Venezuela’s crisis needs to become a defining moment that sparks a collective effort to resolve a conflict that touches all citizens – not just the government or the opposition. The country has, in the past, demonstrated the political maturity needed to establish common ground. It must do so again. Gifted minds that prioritise the future over the past and can focus on the task at hand rather than the losses suffered or the obstacles faced, will be the architects of that consensus. But to create consensus, bridges first need to be built trough honest dialogue.
Overcoming polarisation is the most urgent task. Unfortunately, the conflict has left the country void of honest brokers. Amid so much division, no single institution or individual is considered the depository of righteousness. And at a time when such a figure is so essential, Venezuela lacks an arbiter who loves our nation, understands its complexity and enjoys the deep knowledge of our history needed to propose consensus-building formulas that would be acceptable to all. The country is in dire need of a mediator whose work and deeds are inspired by a deeply felt conviction to seek the best for all and to set us on a path to a better future. The delegation dispatched to Caracas by the Union of South American Nations with the mission of promoting dialogue is a start, but is far from enough.
Perhaps His Holiness Pope Francis and wise Vatican diplomacy could be Venezuela’s salvation. Pope Francis could bring to a halt the nation´s destructive journey. Signs abound of his suitability for such a role: from the internal messages he has sent to his representatives in the country, to his expressions of concern over the violent turn that student protests have taken. “I beg all parties in conflict to seek peace and understanding,” the Pope has said. “I call on all the Venezuelan people, beginning with those with institutional and political responsibilities, to unite in seeking national reconciliation through mutual pardon and sincere dialogue and respect for truth and justice as the medium to achieve the common good”.
Opinions differ over who is responsible for what in Venezuela, or how things arrived at this disastrous point. But what seems self-evident and unquestionable is that the status quo is unsustainable. Both sides need to show good will by releasing all political prisoners, by ending all street barricades, and by lowering all voices of confrontation. If the Vatican's diplomacy can facilitate those initial steps, talks to reconcile Venezuelans around real solutions to profound problems can begin — which is what Pope Francis is praying for. Let's take his prayer to heart.
La colaboración diplomática del Vaticano, posible salvación para Venezuela
Con la violencia en ascenso, la situación en Venezuela ha alcanzado un punto insostenible al cual no podemos ser ajenos. Más allá de cualquier ideología, el país exige una reconfiguración y toma de decisiones inmediata, que nos permita definir el rumbo que Venezuela necesita tomar para encontrar -de mutuo acuerdo-, la senda de la paz, reconciliación y crecimiento.
Desgraciadamente, hoy la intolerancia y la desconfianza, así como el evidente ánimo de confrontación visto en nuestras calles, parecen reinar en el país. La reciente advertencia por parte de la Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CONATEL) a proveedores de internet para bloquear los sitios web que “agredan al pueblo venezolano” y “causen desestabilización y zozobra” es una clara muestra de ello, al igual que la consideración de una posible restricción para el ingreso a redes sociales como Twitter y YouTube.
Ante este tipo de actitudes, la idea de sentar en la mesa a dos Venezuelas tan distantes, parece lejana. No obstante, resolver los grandes problemas que hoy nos aquejan –criminalidad y violencia, desabastecimiento, un alto índice inflación y una apremiante situación económica- requiere de la voluntad de todos. Se necesita una apertura en la que cada una de las partes reconozca la validez de sus interlocutores, poniendo por encima de cualquier diferencia, esa gran coincidencia que nos une a todos los venezolanos: el amor y la lucha por nuestra patria.
Necesitamos comenzar un diálogo sincero, a trabajar juntos en la construcción del país que todos deseamos: un país en el que todas las opiniones cuenten; en el que el respeto de los derechos humanos, los derechos de las minorías y la estabilidad no estén peleados. Un país de progreso en el que las madres de familia no necesiten realizar una odisea para adquirir lo básico. Un país en el que la gente pueda caminar confiada por la calle. Un país en el que los jóvenes puedan alcanzar sus sueños. Un país en el que sus periodistas no tengan que jugarse la vida todos los días para hacer su trabajo, en el que la libertad de expresión y el oficio de la comunicación sean respetados. Un país en el que todos los venezolanos podamos expresarnos y ser escuchados.
Estamos en el momento justo para demostrar la madurez política de Venezuela y decidir la forma de resolver un conflicto que está afectando a todo el pueblo venezolano, no sólo a gobierno u oposición. El nivel de polarización que ha alcanzado Venezuela, merece ya la mediación externa de una figura que goce de credibilidad ante ambas partes: un árbitro que conozca y quiera a Venezuela y que comprenda la complejidad de su situación. Alguien que cuente con capacidad técnica para llamar a la reconciliación, con disposición para el diálogo y cuyo fin último sea la consecución de la paz y la unión entre todos los venezolanos.
En este contexto -tal como diversos personajes han propuesto ya- la intervención de una figura al margen de cualquier interés político, como la del Papa Francisco y la sabia cancillería del Vaticano, emergen como la opción más viable. Desde el recrudecimiento de las protestas en Venezuela, el Sumo Pontífice se ha mostrado especialmente preocupado por la violencia desatada y ha sido uno de los primeros en hacer un llamado “a la paz y la concordia” al pedir que “todo el pueblo venezolano, comenzando por los responsables políticos e institucionales, se una para favorecer la reconciliación nacional a través del perdón mutuo y el diálogo sincero, el respeto por la verdad y la justicia, capaces de hacer frente a cuestiones concretas para el bien común”. El Vaticano cuenta además con figuras como el Cardenal Pietro Parolin, hoy Secretario de Estado, que en su calidad de Nuncio Apostólico de Venezuela, tuvo la oportunidad de conocer de cerca nuestra situación y cuenta también con gran experiencia en materia de negociación internacional. La Conferencia Episcopal Venezolana tiene la confianza del país y podría tomar parte de este arbitraje y del establecimiento de un ambiente propicio para un diálogo sin exclusiones.
Se puede o no estar de acuerdo con lo propuesto hoy en Venezuela, es justo ese debate el que da fuerza a toda democracia. Pero lo que no podemos negar es lo insostenible de la situación que atraviesa hoy nuestro país, donde la protesta es una reacción normal como lo es en cualquier sociedad democrática; no obstante, debe poder hacerse sin violencia.
Tal como ha sido la constante en las grandes transformaciones de América Latina, los jóvenes venezolanos han sido los primeros en alzar la mano, mostrando al mundo el espíritu de nuestra patria: echado pa’lante, decidido, valiente, que no se doblega. Se trata de jóvenes que entienden que el progreso también está ligado con el bienestar de los menos favorecidos; que son capaces de visualizar las consecuencias, a mediano y largo plazo, que trae consigo la carencia de certeza; y que pugnan por la reconstrucción del país.
Si queremos encontrar la reconciliación, resulta indispensable el cese a la persecución; así como la investigación independiente y transparente de los fallecimientos ocurridos y las denuncias existentes sobre violaciones a los derechos humanos durante las protestas. La violencia –provenga de donde provenga- es totalmente reprobable.
Venezuela requiere de la unión de gobierno, instituciones, partidos políticos y ciudadanos, de un debate constructivo que nos permita recuperar esa Venezuela de oportunidades, de progreso y de bienestar.
Hoy me duele mi patria tan dividida, me duele el grado que han alcanzado nuestros desacuerdos. Me duele una Venezuela que sufre; pero confío en que el amor que los venezolanos sentimos por nuestra patria, nos permitirá superar la intolerancia que ha dominado el escenario político en los últimos años, para dar paso al debate democrático y la recuperación de la confianza en las instituciones. No podemos darnos el lujo de continuar divididos.
Si bien este pronunciamiento recibirá, estoy seguro, críticas de muchos; también estoy convencido que si las partes se sientan a la mesa del diálogo –contando con una mediación externa como la del Vaticano-, mi país encontrará de mutuo acuerdo, la paz y la reconciliación que todos aspiramos.
(Original article in spanish)
I would like to share with you another interesting interview by Bloomberg of my daughter Adriana as the new CEO of Cisneros. In the interview, she mentions relevant aspects of our future plans and the niche markets with the greatest potential for the organization’s growth. Adriana clearly states that her focus is on Latin America, where there are markets very favorable for expansion, as well as her goal to bolster our status as a leader in Spanish-language TV. How can that be achieved? Through new acquisitions, expanding our production companies and capitalizing on the growth of e-commerce in Latin America. I am convinced that’s precisely the most promising course for Cisneros, with Adriana at the helm, representing a new generation of leadership and knowledgeable of the digital tendencies from which new platforms and formats have originated like digital advertising, which is currently experiencing the highest rate of growth in Latin America and where there are markets with great potential. In this interview, she also mentions a number of our other investments, including Tropicalia, our real estate project in the Dominican Republic, and Miss Venezuela. The latter was exemplified to demonstrate how to generate greater growth in existing companies while expanding their digital reach.
I invite you to see the interview through the link below:
I would like to share with you a very good article The Miami Herald wrote about my daughter Adriana as the new CEO of Cisneros.
Published on October 28th, the article very well presents the challenges she has taken on in her new role, as well as the way she has prepared herself to face them. The journalist, Cindy Krisher Goodman, mentions several strategic points that I consider will be driving force behind Adriana´s leadership in the coming years: the first is innovation, which began a few years ago with her own initiative to create the company´s digital division; this marked the beginning of a restructuring that would ultimately establish three new corporate divisions: Cisneros Media, Cisneros Interactive, and Cisneros Real State. The second is to continue the company’s expansion, which produced optimal results in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and now presents a new challenge for Adriana; and the third is to transcend frontiers, conquer new territories, and increase audiences across the different formats in a world where creating relevant content has become a very competitive business.
The article also addresses the issue of successions in family businesses in Latin America, and how it has been a priority for our organization, a process meticulously organized and appropriately planned in Adriana’s case. She now devotes a portion of her time to contemplate how to engage the next generation in the business, and envision the type of company we want to be in the future.
I invite you to read it:
My father, Diego Cisneros, was a man who made a big impact on the Venezuelan business world. As an entrepreneur, he paved the way for creating industries, promoting democracy, and also strived to improve education, all of which helped lead Venezuela into modernity.
Diego Cisneros’ legacy is part of our core, and it will continue to be the stepping-stone of what Cisneros is today; our philosophy and our way of doing business.
This is why we pay a tribute to this great dreamer, a businessman who knew how to make any idea come true. This is a homage to this visionary who, with brains, a heart and courage founded what is today one of the most important media and entertainment groups of the world.
Without a doubt, my father’s story is worth telling; in fact, it is an inspiring story that I would like to share with you today.