Earlier this week, Latino Rebels received an email from a freelancer writer looking for opportunities at LatinoRebels.com. Part of the email said the following: “I used to write for the website VOXXI.com. Sadly, the website will be discontinued and I am looking for any freelance positions in other Latino websites.”
After several emails and phone calls to VOXXI’s Miami offices asking whether the site had indeed closed shop, Emilio Sánchez, the site’s president and editor in chief, confirmed the news this afternoon via email, saying that it was a revenue problem. (Sánchez’s initial email read: “Yes, it is true. We couldn’t get enough revenues. Thank you for your interest. Best, E.”)
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) March 26, 2015
When a follow-up email to Sánchez’s confirmation of the news was sent asking for a quote, this is what Sánchez passed on in an email:
“Unfortunately Voxxi has been unable to reach several critical milestones. As a result of this, effective immediately, the company will be ceasing all operations and will wind down. We appreciate all of the efforts of those that have supported the company”, said Jason Perlman, legal counselor of VOXXI.
The site, which launched in August 2011, is still active, but after producing stories up to March 23 (including one about Ted Cruz’s presidential run), VOXXI stopped posting articles this week. Two political posts by Tony Castro published yesterday and today on the site suggested that the site was back in business. When asked if the VOXXI site was still active and rumors of its demise were not true, Castro, a contributor to VOXXI and not a member of the site’s staff, tweeted: “Like the guys at the Alamo, still firing.”
The VOXXI masthead lists Sánchez as its President and Editor in Chief, although Sánchez’s public LinkedIn profile also lists him as Business Development Director for EFE News, the place he left before joining VOXXI in 2011.
Other pages list Sánchez as Business Development Director for EFE, including a bio listed by the International Economic Forum of the Americas. Sánchez’s Twitter profile also says that he is at VOXXI, although the profile hasn’t tweeted since last summer.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported today that lawyers for Dr. Salomon Melgen, listed as VOXXI’s chairman and co-founder, have been contacted by the federal government to see if Melgen can “cooperate in the corruption case they are building against [Senator Robert] Menendez.”
In 2013, when news of the Melgen friendship with Sen. Menendez and alleged FBI investigation was being covered by national media, Latino Rebels received the following statement from VOXXI regarding Melgen’s involvement with the site:
VOXXI is an independent news site dedicated to covering the issues that are most important to the Latino community. We pride ourselves in our objective quality journalism that educates, engages, and entertains Hispanic America. Our news platform provides comprehensive coverage on sports, business, education, politics and more.
VOXXI’s co-founder, President and Editor-in-Chief, Emilio C. Sánchez manages the company and is the head of the editorial department. Dr. Melgen co-founded VOXXI as a philanthropic initiative.
With respect to Dr. Melgen’s case, we will not comment on an ongoing investigation. The source is anonymous and we continue to follow it closely. Given that is an open investigation, we are waiting for the FBI’s formal announcement.
Before that statement was issued in 2013, Melgen was listed as the Founder and Chairman of VOXXI on the site. (See older screen grab below.) Eventually, the VOXXI site was updated to say “Co-Founder and Chairman.”
Since its early days, VOXXI was considered a fordimable go-to site for English-language news about the U.S. Latino world, having carved a space in the Latino digital news space. Nonetheless, some contributors and media followers thought the site had too much of a Miami focus, although last September the site made national political news when it published exclusive comments from Dolores Huerta about President Obama’s immigration strategy.
According to its Facebook site, the site had positioned itself to “present news, commentary and analysis with a Hispanic focus,” saying that it was “committed to catapulting Latinos into the forefront of American dialogue.”
Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. A 1990 Harvard graduate in the History and Literature of Latin America, his personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. In the last two years, Julito represented the Rebeldes on several outlets, including MSNBC, CBS, NPR, Univision and The New York Times. Recently, he was a digital producer for Al Jazeera America’s The Stream and is currently the Digital Media Director for Futuro Media Group.