I’m a Washington, D.C.-based editor and reporter with the Agence-France Presse news agency. On assignment, I’ve covered the opening of Saddam Hussein’s trial and explored his underground bunker; been trapped in a jungle town by Colombian guerrillas; talked to smugglers and desperados on the U.S. border with Mexico; and interviewed victims in quake-stricken Chile. In Washington I’ve reported from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department. I even had a front row seat for Barack Obama’s January 2009 inauguration. (OK, getting that seat was just dumb luck).
Lately I’ve taken a strong interest in the U.S. Civil War. I guess that happens when you live in Northern Virginia, where streets, schools and strip malls are named after Confederate heroes. (Virginia even has a state holiday honoring two Confederate generals just before the Martin Luther King holiday. But I digress).
Most of the time you’ll find me on the Washington English Desk, where I help cover the news from across the Americas. It’s a high-energy, multilingual newsroom where I can be translating a story from Spanish on Honduran elections, then banging out an alert based on a White House statement, then translating a brief from French written by the Pentagon correspondent. On the overnight shift I’ve coordinated coverage with AFP editors across the planet and updated top world stories. I’ve also had to cover as best possible breaking news like tornadoes, riots, and the occasional celebrity car crash.
A California native, I grew up in Peru and studied history at the University of Santa Clara. Then I enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to a mechanized infantry unit stationed near the border of the former West Germany and Czechoslovakia. Preparing for a Soviet invasion got old quickly, so with Uncle Sam’s help I went back to school and obtained Masters in Latin American history from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a Masters in Journalism from U.C. Berkeley.
I began my journalism career in Peru writing for the Lima Times and the Andean Report at the height of the leftist insurgencies of the 1980s. I traveled extensively around the country, dodged a Tupac Amaru car bomb, and was almost shot by a drunk army officer in Ayacucho, the birthplace of the Shining Path.
Over the years I’ve had stories in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, The New Republic, and The Globe and Mail. Before moving to Washington I worked at the El Paso Times in Texas for two years, then stayed on the border freelancing for nearly two more years.
I’m fluent in Spanish, and I’ll speak decent French after a few drinks. I used to be conversant in German in my army days, but I haven’t practiced in years. Along the way I also picked up a few words in Arabic and Quechua.
And yes, I do wear fedora hats. My collection includes a Stetson Stratoliner, an Akubra Federation, and two indestructible Tilley hats. In the summer I wear a Fino Fino Panama that I picked up in Ecuador. Panama hats are made in Ecuador, and — as I discovered while on assignment in the Canal Zone — hard to find in Panama.
You can also find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.