May 08, 1978 12:00 PM

Poised and elegant, Argentina Schifano Ramos Hills would seem to be more at home at Vogue than in the newsroom of the Spanish-language El Miami Herald. But the gritty world of big city newspapers is Tina Hills’ natural habitat. She is publisher of Puerto Rico’s prestigious El Mundo and, as the first woman president of the Inter-American Press Association, she now has undertaken the formidable task of overseeing freedom of the press both north and south of the equator.

At the moment, Hills and the IAPA have their work cut out for them. Only six American nations—Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands Antilles, Venezuela and the U.S.—have such freedom. Cuba, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Honduras, Brazil and Argentina do not. Still, she can boast, “Journalists’ lives have been saved, newspapers allowed to reappear and press restrictions revoked, all because of IAPA efforts.”

Tina was born the eldest of five children in Pola, Italy and came to the U.S. with her family when she was 14. She learned English (she now also speaks Spanish and French) and attended New York University. At 18 she went to work for the Italian food and candy company Industrie Buitoni Perugina, but left to marry El Mundo publisher Angel Ramos. When he died in 1960, she took over the newspaper. Three years later she married two-time Pulitzer prizewinner Lee Hills, now publisher of the Miami Herald and chairman of the Knight-Ridder newspaper group, as well as past president of IAPA.

“Our life,” says Tina, 56, “is interesting, exciting, unpredictable.” Indeed, she skips all over the Americas setting up conferences, conferring with editors, publishers and politicians.

The Hillses’ primary home is a well-guarded Miami villa filled with sculpture, paintings and tapestries. “Everything she does is with grace and style,” Lee Hills boasts of his wife, “whether she’s cooking, giving a speech—or swearing at somebody in Italian!”

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