Tag Archives: NYU journalism

Hacia la Paz: Celebrating Ceasefire in Bogotá

Posted by Hanna Wallis – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

A crowd of several dozen huddles against the rain under huge Colombian flags with white flowers in hand, paz written on damp faces. They gaze expectantly toward the huge screen at the front of the plaza broadcasting live news from Havana; the four years of peace negotiations between the government and the country’s largest guerrilla group FARC approach a conclusive ceasefire agreement, a symbolic move to end five decades of armed conflict. We are standing in the exact coordinates of Bogota where 68 years ago, liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was assassinated, catalyzing what is known in Colombian history as “La Violencia.” Today, the site where the conflict began is also where we inaugurate its conclusion. Hope radiates among people holding long embraces, statue-sized political handshakes projecting before us.

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I arrived to Colombia just a day before this historical moment. While the government and FARC have flirted with the possibility of final signed peace accord for several months (the original deadline was March 23), this latest agreement was not pre-announced. My first full day in Bogota I hear mutterings about celebrating a peace agreement the next morning. All of my adopted Colombian family adorns themselves in peace regalia and we proceed to the Séptima con Avenida Jimenez.

Although more steps remain before the country reaches a final peace accord, this latest message from Havana marks several important changes: the FARC have agreed to disarm in a binding ceasefire wherein their weapons will be transferred to the United Nations. The government has also to create a special unit in its general attorney office to fight paramilitary and other criminal organizations.

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The potential implications of these changes for the population at large has inspired broad speculation and concern. I’m here to research how the peace process will impact an indigenous resistance movement in Cauca, Colombia, which has fought for political representation and autonomy since the 1970s.  While quelling the tensions between the different armed groups is critical in the transition toward “post-conflict”, their movement represents the existence of plural interests excluded from the bilateral negotiations. I am excited to depart from the urban hullabaloo and immerse where I can hear a counter-point to the elation of the crowd in front of me.

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My academic research will loosely center around their alternative forms of development and pursuit of sovereignty. As a joint masters student in Journalism and Latin American Studies, I will also seek out a character-driven reportage. I’ve been networking with organizations and government representatives to broaden my contextual understanding. With this backdrop, the voices from Nasa community members in Cauca will ring distinctly.

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Q & A with CLACS Alum Eva Sanchis

Eva Sanchis CLACS Alum

Eva Sanchis, CLACS Alum

Eva Sanchis graduated from the CLACS  joint journalism M.A. program in 2003. At CLACS, she focused her research on media portrayals of Latino communities, and overall media coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean. Since then, she continues to focus on these issues, and has published her work extensively, She recently relocated to London, where she works for the international NGO REDRESS. Here’s more about Eva, her time at CLACS, and her current work.

Q. What did you focus your research on at CLACS?

A. While completing my joint master’s program in Journalism and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, I had the opportunity to intern with two CNN primetime shows:  American Morning with Paula Zahn and Greenfield at Large. I also began working as a full-time reporter for El Diario-La Prensa, the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, where I covered the Hispanic and Latin American and Spanish Caribbean communities in New York.  My thesis at CLACS was partly based on these experiences. It examined mainstream media portrayals of those communities in the United States as well as U.S. media coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Q. Is there any connection between your current work and your research at CLACS?

A. Yes, since I completed my M.A. in 2003, my journalistic career has been devoted to writing about Hispanic and Latin American and Spanish Caribbean communities.  An ongoing concern within my work has been to combat distorted perceptions of these communities in the U.S. mainstream media. After NYU, I became the Metro and National News editor at the New York-based El Diario-La Prensa, the U.S.’s second largest Hispanic newspaper.  As editor, I supervised coverage of local and national news, and major international stories such as the 2008 US presidential election, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the earthquake in Chile. Prior to being an editor, I was the New York City Hall Bureau chief for El Diario, and I also reported special coverage from Latin America as an IRP Johns Hopkins’ fellow.  I have written for El Diario and other publications such as the World Policy Journal, the Progressive magazine, and the Financial Times magazine. I was also an adjunct professor at CLACS, where I taught the course “Covering Latino Stories in the United States.”  Since I relocated to London in 2010, I have continued writing as a freelancer about these communities from Europe.

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