By Michelle Kantrow-Vázquez
Xavira Neggers-Crescioni, who had
nearly three decades of experience as a business reporter in Puerto Rico,
passed away over the weekend. She was 51.
Her unexpected death has left
her friends and colleagues with heavy hearts. On a personal level, aside from
being one of the most incisive reporters I’ve known, Xavira was also one of my
very best friends.
I met Xavira in 1993, when we
coincided as reporters at Caribbean Business in San Juan. Me, a rookie, she, an
already seasoned reporter with a reputation for brilliant writing and
understanding of some very complex issues that she was able to explain clearly and
But perhaps what was most noticeable
about her was her kindness, bubbly personality and unmistakable laugh. Xavira
was a powerhouse in every sense of the word, and we soon became fast friends.
Less than a year later, Xavira moved
on to join the now-defunct The San Juan STAR newspaper’s business reporting
team, covering local markets, industries, with a particular focus on tourism,
shipping, aviation, retail. She also covered banking and finance, earning the respect
of many in and outside the newspaper.
In 1995, we met again when I
too was hired at The San Juan STAR, where I worked for 13 years until the
newspaper’s closing in August 2008. While we covered very different beats, Xavira
was part of a team of business reporters that collaborated on a number of
stories, winning multiple awards over the years.
From January 2000 to December
2004, Xavira moved to the newspaper’s city desk, covering Gov. Sila María
Calderón, the switchover of Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority management
from Ondeo back to the commonwealth, and the Popular Democratic Party’s 2004
electoral campaign, among other topics.
From January 2005 to August
2008, she covered federal court, including the Superaqueduct trial against
former Gov. Pedro Rosselló’s former campaign manager René Vázquez-Botet and
former New Progressive Party General Secretary Marcos Morell-Corrada on
extortion charges as well as the trial against Gov. Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá on
campaign corruption charges.
During all that time, Xavira was
able to express her creative side as Puerto Rico’s most discussed, popular,
epicurean restaurant reviewer, writing under the “nome de plume” Xaviera
Hollandaise, for San Juan City Magazine.
Her reviews were some of the industry’s
most inspired and entertaining at the time, as she had one of the most
developed palates in town. Her love for screaming hot and spicy dishes was legendary
among those of us who knew her best.
She entered the field of
journalism armed with an extraordinary educational background. Xavira earned a
Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature and Creative Arts Studies
from Columbia University and a Master’s in Journalism from Universidad
Complutense in Spain. She also spent a year earning a degree in Visual Arts
Studies from the Parsons School of Design.
Xavira was wildly intelligent, incredibly witty and razor-sharp in her job and in life. She was thoughtful, generous, funny and a loyal friend. While living in Old San Juan — a community she cherished for many years — she could often be seen walking her beloved dogs Moi and Germanicus down the cobblestoned streets and hanging out at the local restaurants and watering holes.
She was a devoted daughter and granddaughter
and a life-long animal lover. I will miss being greeted by her “hey girl!” whenever
we spoke on the phone or ran into each other at press conferences. While in
recent years we were competitors, that never got in the way of our genuine friendship…which
is something I will miss terribly. ‘Til we meet again, my dear Xavira.