Trailblazer Gives Big Gift to Posterity

Lion Ruth Molenaar ran the Spanish language newspaper La Tribuna for decades, helping generations of spanish-speakers and immigrants find a sense of community and belonging. PHOTO BY MAXIM RYAZANSKY

Lion Ruth Molenaar, vice district governor 16-N, recently received the Cultural Preservation Award from the Newark Public Library for her donation of archival material, articles, and photos from La Tribuna, the largest and oldest Spanish language newspaper published in New Jersey.

La Tribuna was founded in 1962 in Newark, N.J. by Carlos Bidot, a Cuban émigré who saw a need to provide a newspaper in the Spanish language for others of Hispanic origin and those Cubans fleeing the Castro regime. The newspaper was published on a bi-monthly basis and over the years diversified to provide in-depth coverage of matters important to the Hispanic community.

On March 11, 1988, Molenaar purchased La Tribuna and became the owner and publisher. Molenaar worked alongside Bidot for a year after purchasing La Tribuna, learning many of the aspects necessary to successfully operate and publish a newspaper.

Born in Caracas Venezuela, from a Dominican mother and Dutch father, Molenaar lived in Aruba until the age of 14, when she and her family moved to the United States.

At its 30th Anniversary Gala in 1992, Governor of New Jersey, Jim Florio, said “La Tribuna Newspaper has been a lighthouse for the Latino community of New Jersey, showing them the path to a better future. Under the leadership of Ruth Molenaar, La Tribuna increased its influence on the aspects of life that not only affect the Latino community, but all New Jersey’s communities at large.”

“It is an honor and privilege to own a paper that has been a community paper, a decent paper, and has supported the Hispanic Community,” says Molenaar.

Molenaar has been a member of the Newark Borinquen Lions Club for 24 years.

Original reporting by John Romano.