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Gaspar Roca, 80; founded paper

SAN JUAN -- Gaspar Roca, a journalist who founded the Puerto Rican daily El Vocero and directed it for more than three decades, died of respiratory failure Sunday at his home in San Juan, his family said in a statement. He was 80.

The native of Yauco founded El Vocero in 1974 and worked as its editor until his death. The newspaper ranks among the major dailies in the US territory with a circulation of 132,000.

Oscar Serrano, president of the Puerto Rico Journalists Association, credited Mr. Roca with improving press freedom on the island through several court challenges. In the 1980s, he won a US Supreme Court ruling that opened preliminary hearings in Puerto Rican courts to the public when they involve criminal cases.

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