Born in 1920, Roland Manteiga began his career at the age of 10 as a paperboy, delivering copies of his father’s newspaper. In the 1950s, La Gaceta became the only trilingual newspaper (published in English, Italian, and Spanish) in the U.S., a distinction that it still holds to this day.
The paper expanded dramatically between 1943-1953 with World War II bringing a massive increase in defense activities to the area. Manteiga left during that time to serve in the infantry in the Philippines and Japan. Upon his return, he took on a more active role in the direction of the newspaper.
Manteiga stuck with the paper as the expansion of radio and television news challenged smaller print media outlets for the public’s attention. He authored a popular column called “As We Heard It” that really appealed to local readers, who perceived him as a champion of the underdog and a fair and honest person.
In addition to increasing the readership of his column, Manteiga developed a following among readers who were fascinated by his ability to accurately predict the outcome of political races. This skill bolstered his influence and drew attention beyond the Tampa region. He became acquainted with a number of political hopefuls, even at the national level. Jimmy Carter and George Bush are two former Presidents who are said to have
Upon his father’s retirement in 1961, Roland Mantiega took over as publisher of La Gaceta and began teaching his son Patrick the finer points of the business. Roland Mantiega passed away in 1998, leaving the paper to his son, Patrick Manteiga, who is still the publisher of La Gaceta.
The statue of Roland Mantiega is located alongside El Centro Español de Tampa and is accompanied by a plaque that reads: “Roland Manteiga chronicled events and politics that shaped Tampa and Ybor city and championed human rights for more than 40 years through his weekly column “As we heard it.” From his private table at La Tropicana Restaurant, where he broke bread with presidents and locals alike, this formidable owner and publisher of La Gaceta newspaper served as a conduit between power brokers and the powerless. As the conscience of the community, Manteiga became a legend in his own time.”
The monument was dedicated in 2003 by Mayor Dick Greco and the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council, City of Tampa.