Why Is La Opinion Changing the Tan Nguyen Letter?

La Opinión is the dean of America's Spanish-language dailies, dating back to the 1930s. Its owners, the Lozano family, are tireless advocates of Latinos, and the paper's Pilar Marrero is one of Southern California's best political reporters, damn the language.

But their coverage of the Tan Nguyen scandal (read previous Blotter posts below) is inconsistent when considering the infamous letter's most infamous passage–that illegal immigrants and resident aliens can't vote. The Spanish-language letter states, “Se le avisa que si su residencia en este país es ilegal o si es emigrado, votar en una eleción federal es un delito que podrá resultar en encarcelamientó, y sí sera deportado por votar sin tener derecho a ello (“You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are a non-citizen immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time, and you will be deported for voting without having a right to do so.”)

However, in this article, Opinión writer Araceli Martínez Ortega writes that the Nguyen letter says, “Estás advertido que si tu residencia en este país es ilegal o eres un inmigrante, votar en una elección federal es un crimen que puede dar como resultado la cárcel.” And in this second story, Martínez Ortega says the letter (sent to 14,000 Latinos in the 46th Congressional District) reads, “Te advertimos que si tu residencia en este país es ilegal o si eres un inmigrante, votar en una elección federal es un crimen que puede resultar en cárcel.” This article, however, has it right.

We're not going to translate the Martínez Ortega's two versions (mix-and-match with the original Spanish above!), 'cause it essentially translates word-for-word, sentiment for sentiment. Except for one word–inmigrante. Means immigrant, of course. But the original said emigrado.

So why the change? As reported earlier, emigrado refers to immigrants who are legal but not citizens; inmigrante refers to immigrants without distinction to legal status. The original letter tells readers non-citizens can't vote; La Opinión's version spins it so that readers think even former immigrants who are now citizens can't vote.

You can excuse the English-language press for mistranslation–we're just a bunch of gabachos y pochos, after all. But why would La Opinión change the content of Nguyen's letter. Honest mistake (twice)–or deliberate misdirection?

P.S. to Adam Probolsky: Cut the “Tan was a Dem” shit out. Readers: Probolsky said that in the first Opinión article. And same goes to the rest of the Republicans who are saying this (that's you, Chuck Devore). Ustedes weren't saying that before Nguyen turned stupid.

UPDATE: Today's Opinión article on Nguyen has yet another offering of the letter, this one now stating, “un residente con la tarjeta verde (green card) (a resident with a green card). But the letter said no such thing. Implied? Sure. But why not just print what the original letter said, not implied? Or is the nation's most prestigious Spanish-language paper in need of a Real Academia Español dictionary?

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