Monday, June 14, 2021

Political violence is raging in Mexico

 Political violence

Running for office in Mexico’s recent midterm elections meant risking your life: Opinion

Diana Washington Valdez
Guest columnist/El Paso Times
Published 6 a.m. MT June 11, 2021

Candidate killed in Ocampo, Mexico.[Zuma]

Running for office in Mexico’s recent midterm elections meant having to dodge bullets, dying in ambush-type attacks, or being forced to resign after receiving death threats.

 A May 9 photograph by Marco Ugarte for the Associated Press shows Guillermo Valencia, a mayoral candidate in Michoacán, putting on a bulletproof vest before hitting the campaign trail. On May 25, mayoral candidate Alma Barragan, 61, was shot and killed while campaigning in Guanajuato.

Mexican citizens went to the polls June 6 to elect hundreds of candidates – the ones that survived with their lives intact - to federal, state and local positions. According to Etellekt Consultores, a consulting firm, the country just experienced one of its most violent election seasons in modern times.

Relying on open sources, Etellekt found 910 reported attacks between Sept. 7, 2020, and June 5, 2021, ranging from verbal threats to physical attacks and murders against candidates, officeholders, their relatives, and associates. A total of 91 politicians were assassinated.

Candidates from various parties were targeted, so mere political rivalries cannot explain this wave of political violence. Over the past two decades, the people of Mexico elected presidents from three different political parties, and they complained each time of disappointing results.

Besides politicians - numerous activists representing myriad causes, police and judicial officers - also were targets. Added to this are the relentless murders and abductions linked to organized crime (misnomer for drug-trafficking cartels).

The nonstop horror created by these brazen attacks seriously undermines Mexican democracy. The response by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been tepid at best. Who is killing these people? Security experts cited in news media accounts assert that drug cartels are involved. Apparently, criminal organizations select their preferred candidates and knock out the opponents. They act as proxies for politicians who want to remove rivals without getting their hands dirty.

Everyone knows the majority of these crimes will go unpunished, which contributes to the erosion of democracy. Obviously, the Mexican government cannot guarantee the safety of men and women that merely want to make their cities, states, and nation better.

Will we see more attacks, perhaps against the candidates who managed to get elected? If so, they could be forced to join the thousands of migrants fleeing violence in Mexico and Central America. They will have a good case if they apply for asylum in the United States.

Lopez Obrador is touchy when it comes to criticism about the widespread security issues that plague Mexico. Still, it is an issue that the United States cannot afford to ignore. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris likely was briefed on these matters ahead of her meeting with Mexico’s president this week.

In 2008, the U.S. Joint Forces Command released its “Joint Operating Environment (JOE)” report warning about Mexico’s potential collapse. "The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels,” the JOE report stated.

“How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."

Mexico is closer today to that precipice than it was when the JOE report first came out.

Going forward, the good people of Mexico deserve much, much better from their leadership. 

Diana Washington Valdez is an international author-journalist based in El Paso, Texas, and a former El Paso Times staffer. 


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New book about the Gulf War Syndrome

 Book explores the Gulf War Syndrome controversies

Book cover
New release of the book "Shadow of Death: Gulf War Syndrome" by author-journalist Diana Washington Valdez. Available on Amazon.

"The book is timely in light of the current pandemic we are experiencing," Diana Washington Valdez said. "Concerns about weaponized viruses and bacteria surfaced 20 years ago."

"Today's conspiracy theory is tomorrow's truth."

Monday, May 10, 2021

Estreno del libro digital "Cosecha de Mujeres: El safari mexicano"

 La nueva version digital del libro esta disponible desde hoy en sitios como barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, y mas.


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Una nueva versión digital del libro “Cosecha de Mujeres: El safari mexicano” se estrena el 10 de mayo de 2021 bajo el sello de Peace at the Border. La autora Diana Washington Valdez dijo que hizo algunas revisiones al libro de 2005, que fue publicado por Océano como “Cosecha de Mujeres: Safari en el desierto mexicano.” La versión digital se preparo debido a la demanda por este libro en formatos mas flexibles, y para distinguirla de las copias piratas que existen en sitios de internet. Esta versión es la única genuina y autorizada, según la editorial. La autora es una periodista internacional que ha colaborado con medios y documentales como “Investigation Discovery,” “Al Jazeera,” “Proceso,” “Discovery de Argentina,” “La Jornada,” “The Guardian” (de Londres),” “Letras Libres,” “CBC (Radio Canada),” “Al Punto con Jorge Ramos,” y con las películas y podcasts exitosas como “Border Echoes/Ecos de una frontera,” “Soles Negros/Dark Suns,” iHeart “Forgotten: Women of Juarez”. “Mi deseo es que los lectores puedan obtener una versión autentica y que contiene algunas sencillas revisiones y actualizaciones,” expreso Diana Washington Valdez. “No tiene caso ampliar más la investigación porque seria repetir mas de lo mismo, más muertes y desapariciones”. De acuerdo con la autora, “Aunque ya tenemos una nueva generación de mujeres jóvenes, que están mejor preparadas para enfrentar los peligros y que hacen un activismo contundente, las causas principales de los crímenes son las mismas: La corrupción y la falta de voluntad por parte del gobierno mexicano para esclarecer los crímenes y proteger a las mujeres vulnerables. Advertí en 2005 que las cosas iban a empeorar y que los asesinatos sistemáticos se extenderían si no hubiera una intervención importante. Y, lamentablemente, el tiempo me dio la razón”. El libro digital es disponible desde el 10 de mayo de 2021 por Barnes and Noble, Amazon, y otros sitios de internet. Para solicitar entrevistas con la autora pueden comunicarse por el correo electrónico thedigiezone@gmail.com.

 

 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Dolores Huerta: La reina del campo

 

Poster del documental
"Dolores"

La reina del campo

Ahí viene la guerrillera morena,
La reina del campo
Con su maleta viajada
Cargada de esperanzas;
Viene a convertir todos tus dolores
en una fuerza implacable;
Viene a levantar tu animo
Para luchar contra la injusticia;
Viene a darle un nuevo aliento
A tus sueños adormecidos;
El sol brilla alrededor de
Esta guerrillera morena
Que trae luz y alegría a tu alma;
Va a transformar tus tristes lagrimas
En abono para una grandiosa
Cosecha de milagros.

Diana Washington Valdez
15 de octubre de 2017

[Para Dolores Huerta,
la reina del campo.]


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Canada radio interview with Diana Washington Valdez



 Canada radio interview
http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-monday-edition-1.4295006/netflix-should-have-done-more-to-protect-narcos-location-scout-says-journalist-who-covers-

Juarez femicides documentary by California filmmaker

From the Digie Zone Network gallery

 
Diana Washington Valdez


Video clip from the "Border Echoes" documentary

Border Echoes film 

Links to more film collaborations are here Youtube clips



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

KTEP radio host interviews Diana Washington Valdez

Louie Saenz and Diana Washington-
Valdez at KTEP studio. (File photo)

Listen to the KTEP interview here Recording of radio interview with Louie Saenz, host of "The Weekend" program. It aired November 25, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Poem "When Cesar Chavez Died" April 23

Copyright © 1997, 2017
By Diana Washington Valdez
Cesar Chavez (Verso/Tumblr)

When Cesar Chávez died
grief flooded the fields

Dusty sandaled feet,
Darkened faces seared by sun,
Hands scarred by thorns,
Wounds and overuse;
The arrow of death flung
Stilled Cesar’s soul today,
Stunned farm workers
Gather, stare at one another,
Arrayed in stony disbelief,
In unbearable quiet silence;
Their stout hearts crushed;
Their hot tears and mine combine,
A river of grief begins to flow,
Watering the soil across the land,
From the grape yards of California,
To the apple groves of Pennsylvania.
The man who sets souls on fire,
yields his body to the field.

By Diana Washington Valdez

[Cesar Chavez died April 23, 1993. He and
Dolores Huerta co-founded the
United Farm Workers Union.]


Friday, June 30, 2017

International fashion and style over time

Diana Washington Valdez interviewed by reporters in
Mexico City. (Courtesy photo)
My fashion sense over the years ...

Diana Washington Valdez/DZN

If someone asked me if I have a sense of fashion, then I would have to say probably not. If it's a matter of style, which is personal and subjective, then yes, I have that and so does everyone else.

Recently, I read that we ought to determine and let everyone know what our "uniform" consists of, especially in case of becoming accident victim or dying unexpectedly. What could we be known for wearing that would help others to identify us quickly and positively?

After giving it some thought, I decided that blue denim shirts are my favorite thing to wear. My next favorite, for dressier occasions, are Asian-style jackets, like the one in the photo at left. I own two other such jackets that I will be glad to show off in later photos.

Dolce and Gabbana?

I never was the most informed person when it comes to fashion. This was more than evident when friends in Los Angeles told me that Dolce and Gabbana was a major sponsor of an event with Hollywood people that was going to include an excerpt of Lorena Mendez-Quiroga's film, "Border Echoes," in which I appeared. I asked the friends, 'What is Dolce and Gabbana?' They paused for a moment, and one of them politely responded, 'a fashion designer.' I went home later that day and mentioned this to a teenage niece, Rebe (pronounced ReeBee). The niece laughed at me, and said she had Dolce and Gabbana shoes.

Another time, I bought five identical shirts because I fell in love with the plaid pattern and soft pink and green colors, a combination I also use to paint walls and for bedding. For four days in a row, I wore a fresh pink and green identical shirt to work. I did not wear another one on the fifth day because I realized the night before that my fellow workers probably thought I was wearing the same shirt every day. No one said anything to me, but I can imagine what others in the newsroom were thinking.

There was another occasion when my fashion sense was challenged. I got up for work one morning, and I got very dressed up. I looked in the mirror and thought I was perhaps too dressed up. I headed to the car and after I opened the door to get in, I changed my mind and went back inside the house. I proceeded to "dress down" a bit. After that, I felt comfortable with myself and drove on to the office.

I must say that my mother, who lived next door, could see me leave the house from her front yard while she watered her garden. I caught her once nodding her head after waving goodbye to me, and after checking out my 'wardrobe.'


Diana's "chola" or "biker" look
First TV gig

The first time I was going to be on television, for an election-related panel, I knew better than to trust my fashion instincts. I sought my sister Maria's advice on what to wear. Maria was very attractive, and always dressed up. She was a head-turner when it came to the guys. 

She looked in my closet and picked out several items. I was to call the TV studio beforehand to ask what color background the studio was going to use. What my sister picked out for me to wear that day was perfect.

I've lost count on the number of international TV and other film documentaries I've appeared in over the years. None of them portray me as glamorous. Fortunately, my mother hasn't seen most of them .... You have to figure that my idea of clothing is limited the "Basic Editions" line sold in Kmart stores. For example, I would go into the store, pick out five of the same items in the same size, except in different colors. 

That doesn't mean I don't possess a style of my own; actually, it varies depending on my mood and the occasion. At the top left, is a picture of me that was meant to display a "chola"  look, although others commented that I looked more like a "biker." I couldn't find any fake tattoos in stores to finish the look, but maybe next time. Whatever. I thought it was pretty cool myself. I will post other "looks" in the future. In the meantime, consider what it means to develop your own style, and don't be afraid to experiment ....

Your unfashionista guru,
Diana



Thursday, March 23, 2017

The real UFO scare

My UFO scare, Part I

I met an interesting resident of El Paso, Texas, who wanted to share her experiences with me about alleged unidentified flying objects and alien abduction. After hearing some preliminary details about her encounters of the third kind dating back to childhood, I hesitated.

I’ve personally never seen any evidence of the existence of aliens from outer space. I’ve read plenty of articles and books, and like countless others, viewed numerous documentaries and movies about the phenomenon.

One of my favorite Hollywood movies centered on the topic is “Encounters of the Third Kind,” a 1977 release starring Richard Dreyfuss. The scene with him and the mashed potatoes is hilarious. I’m also a huge fan of “The X-Files” movies and television series with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, a made for TV match if there ever was one.

My reluctance to meet with this woman did not stem from my desire to scoff at these things. Friends and I have kicked around the UFO question for years. Are they real? What would we do if we encountered something strange like this? Why do so many people believe in what they claim to have experienced.

 As a journalist, I was reluctant to tread into something that would ultimately harm my professional reputation. Of course, it would not be the first time I was tempted to take a risk that might hurt in the end. It would be like writing about ghosts and things of that nature.

But even that was not the reason for my not wanting to meet with this woman. She was thoroughly convinced about what supposedly had happened to her in South El Paso over the course of several years. Her earliest recollection of allegedly being abducted by aliens and medically observed for this dated back to her childhood. She also believed the aliens had inserted an implant in her body to keep track of her. And, she had witnesses – other children – from the old neighborhood that “saw” her taken away.

She was active in the Mutual UFO Network MUFON, and spoke at forums and conferences about her experiences, and was supportive of others with similar claims.

Finally, I set a date to hear her out in greater detail. I grew more nervous as the day approached. I discussed my qualms about this with friends.

When we met, she showed me her album containing a feature news article about her experiences, which I believe the former El Paso Herald-Post had published. She also had drawings in which she described the beings that took her by force, along with the craft. Her story was typical of what other “abductees” have related, including medical-like procedures on her body. She also claimed that the aliens communicated telepathically.

At some point, she said, after rumors regarding the UFO’s began swirling through the neighborhood, the military sent doctors to examine her and the other children that alleged the alien encounters. The visitations in the low-income neighborhood had occurred decades ago. My source said that in the end, the doctors scolded the children and asked their families to stop spreading the UFO rumors.

The source said she was convinced about what happened to her, and I was convinced that she was convinced. I tried not to judge her but I couldn’t validate her story objectively. But, that wasn’t why I hesitated to meet with her in the first place. I’ve been in many scary situations and meetings which posed potential safety threats.

I’d met sources, including corrupt Mexican cops, after midnight in Juarez, Mexico, during my research into the drug cartels and other matters. Etc. This was different though. What if on the off chance this was real? The truth is that in my mind, on the possibility that her story was real, by associating with her, I could become a target for the aliens or government operatives or whatever they are, and maybe later begin to experience the bright lights and rattling at home that some have reported; or, maybe get whisked away along with her by a flying saucer. The fear, the trepidation, over this was real: it is the fear of the unknown. I could deal with the known far more easily. This was much harder to process.

I can report now that after listening to her fascinating story, nothing happened. No little grey men showed up in my life, and the source went on with her life and I went on with mine.

(In the next installment on the same subject I will share another interesting experience that took place in the newsroom.)



Thursday, September 29, 2016

The White House blacklisted journalist

George W. Bush on the presidential campaign trail in New Mexico with
Diana Washington Valdez, then a reporter for the El Paso Times. Photo by

Ruben Ramirez, circa August 2000.
Encounter of the unpleasant kind with a presidential candidate

Mesilla, N.M. - I can't help but recall each time I visit Old Mesilla the encounter I had with George W. Bush during an interview with him while he was campaigning for president in 2000. Bush, the Republican Party's nominee, was governor of Texas at the time.

The interview included only a handful of journalists: myself, El Paso Times Photographer Ruben Ramirez, and two other reporters from New Mexico newspapers and their photographers. 

Dick Cheney, the vice presidential nominee, was with and sat next to me at the table. It truly was a privileged opportunity as far as interviews with powerful people go. Several years before this, I was at the White House for a Hispanic journalists' round table with the younger Bush's father, George H. Bush.

Knowing ahead of time that Ruben and I might actually get this close to George W. Bush, I asked a senior editor for permission to ask questions about information related to some of the controversies that were "out there." Everything else we could talk about would be predictable, along with the responses. He paused briefly, and then said OK.

This was not necessarily to broach subjects about which we would write about and publish; it was a chance to get their (Bush and Cheney's) views about certain matters. If the opportunity presented itself, I would approach Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the same manner.

Later on, I will provide more details in this blog about the encounter that led Bush to stand up and point his finger at me and threaten to sue me if I ever published 'any of that.' One of the questions I asked was directed at Cheney and had to do with the Halliburton controversy. Cheney also got upset. As a result of Bush standing to scold me, he inadvertently caused my tape recorder to fall to the floor.

Ruben told me after the encounter that the Bush staffers standing against the wall began walking toward me when Bush stood up to scold me. Ruben did not wish to revisit this meeting for many years. He was probably smarter and more sensible than I was about such things. His view was that you don't mess with powerful people. The tape recording of that brief session with Bush and Cheney will be transcribed in the future here.

There were lessons to be learned, and in some respects, I believe that editors could take time out to explain to reporters and photographers that some of the information that is "out there," these days on the internet, is mere propaganda or near impossible to prove. Political rivals engage in information wars, at times mixing facts with bizarre and outrageous narratives.

Then again, if someone, whether known or unknown to me, was circulating wild stories about me, and I was running for office, I would appreciate the opportunity from the press to set the record straight. Or, I would address the wild stories through my campaign staff and or websites.

Needless to say, as a result of this encounter, I was blacklisted by the White House press office. No one ever returned my phone calls again from that office during the two Bush terms. Fortunately, I was not assigned to the White House press corps, where access is essential.

I'm thankful to Ruben for wanting to watch our backs. He can breathe easy now. Hopefully, I can, too.

More on this later ...


Diana Washington Valdez is a veteran journalist and Digie Zone Properties publisher. She is a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) and the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS).The Digie Zone principals are based in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico.

Friday, September 9, 2016

California dreaming didn't last long for Hispanics

City of Turlock (Courtesy photo)
California is such a vast place that you best can describe it in its extremes. It possesses a richly varied topography. Tall pines and cool temperatures in the north, a middle area with once-rich farm lands, and a picturesque desert and beckoning beaches in the south.



I did a short stint (about 11 months) at the Modesto Bee in Modesto, California, and after leaving the Bee, I was fortunate to be hired on again by a Gannett property, the Desert Sun in Palm Springs.


The same media company owned the Sacramento Bee, Modesto Bee and the Fresno Bee. I had hoped to work my way to the Sacramento paper to live in a city that had two large rivers and a central park with fragrant eucalyptus trees. The Tule fog season and the slow pace of the Modesto paper changed my mind: I wanted to leave.


My stint at the Bee's bureau in Turlock did not last long. I wrote stories and did a column for the paper. For some odd reason, I ended taking a photograph of kids with a cardboard toy train that ran on the front page. The paper issued cameras to all its reporters in outlying bureaus, so the multimedia roles came early then.


There were two things that surprised me during my time in the Modesto area, the presence of an active Ku Klux Klan organization (I interviewed its "cyclops" leader), and the oppression of the Hispanic farm workers. I guess the two go hand in hand. The KKK cyclops told me then that his organization was part of a "political movement."


Migrant farm workers who worked the harvests in "America's Breadbasket," as the Central Valley region was known, experienced great hardships in their housing and working conditions. I recalled that several of them lived with their families in automobiles along the farm country's waterways.


A man from a South American country acted as a spokesman for them before Modesto local politicians. The workers' greatest need was for decent housing. It was either city or county-level elected officials that responded to such petitions by making fun of the Hispanics' accents. The migrant workers also included Asians, and they all seemed powerless.


I did some personal research into the region's history, something I've done wherever I went, and learned that several of the white American settlers and or pioneers also discriminated against Native Americans.


The settlers included the ancestors of contemporary financial institutions and media leaders. I shared my findings with some of the reporters who wanted to know how I found out about certain things in the backgrounds of the local media companies. Short answer - the public library!


When I met a banker in Modesto that had a Hispanic surname, I thought he was Mexican-American. He said he was Portuguese, as were many of the middle-class residents with Hispanic surnames; they did not speak Spanish and did not identify with the migrant workers.


I observed a big difference between the Mexican-American and Asian migrants. A particular group of Chinese farm workers decided to pool their earnings until they made enough to buy their own tract. They planted the kind of crops that grew in the area and sold them after the harvest. They became business owners.


The Chinese families also placed great importance on the education of their children. Through the Modesto Bee staff I heard that the parents, who didn't speak or understand English, would sit their children at the dinner table until their homework was finished.


Although the parents could not help with the homework, they made it clear to their children that getting an education was crucial to their future success. How I wished at the time that Hispanic migrant workers could learn to work together in this manner so they would not have to depend on the whims of growers and ranchers who wanted their labor but did not want them living in their neighborhoods.


I was unable to adapt to driving in the thick Tule fog conditions, and for this and other reasons opted to find another newsroom. The moment I stepped off the plane in Palm Springs for my job interview, I knew I had to be there. Like others, I harbored stereotypes about Palm Springs, which was portrayed in publications as a playground for the rich and famous. What I discovered was a stunning countryside with a natural oasis park and orchards of date palm trees that transported you to another part of the world.




Indio (California state tourism photo)


It got pretty hot in summer, about 116 degrees while I was there, but you could take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to a mountain station (at 8,516 feet elevation) with much cooler temperatures. The ride that can transform your environment so dramatically lasts only a few minutes.


There was a series of smaller communities next to Palm Springs, close to each other, that included Hot Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indio and Coachella. From the farm fields in the Coachella Valley, one could catch a breath-taking view of the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains in the distance.


I was an assistant city editor (called an "ace") assigned to the bureau in Indio; my official title was East Valley Editor. Once again, as in Modesto, I encountered Hispanic workers who were mostly all at the low end of the economic spectrum. Many of them worked in the resort hotels, restaurants and golf courses. Two Native American reservations, some Indians (from India) and a small black community made up most of the rest of the non-Anglo population.


The newsroom had one of the most creative and energetic staffs I had ever worked with. Joan Behrmann, formerly of USA Today, was the executive editor at the time. Tom Tait was the managing editor. It was the best news job I ever had in terms of work and place. The other aces and I worked long hours, shuttling between the bureaus and main newsroom, supervising reporters and writing stories ourselves. I recall working some 14 to 16-hour-long days, but I never felt it.


Among the stories I got to work on was a paternity lawsuit by a local woman against Prince Albert II Grimaldi of Monaco, which attracted lots of obnoxious paparazzi. The prince did not show up for the proceeding in Indio, but years later, after he became the ruling monarch of Monaco, Grimaldi apparently settled the claims of two mothers. "He keeps in touch with all of his children from previous relationships, and has come to legal agreements to pay their mothers," according to a 2015 article in the Daily Mail Prince of Monaco settles paternity claim.


What on earth is a royal doing in the Palm Springs area? Well, Indio is a traditional favorite of royal polo players. Former President Gerald Ford was one of the paper's readers, along with other famous people. "Glitz" was one of the paper's news beats, and for this reasons, the photographers had to keep a tuxedo handy in case they were assigned to cover one of the many posh events that came up.


Other stories I worked on included one about a local prosecutor trading deals for golf privileges (really), and an in-depth article on how beer companies targeted Hispanics during popular cultural events like Cinco de Mayo.


Apparently, I was told later, that one of the advertising executives felt the story was too controversial to published. During my stay at the Desert Sun, a local radio talk show host insulted Chinese listeners who objected to the use of the term "chinaman" when referring to Asians in the community. The talk show host did not accept that this was an offensive term, and kept repeating it on purpose ....


I found it revealing that the editors at the Desert Sun could not decide whether to endorse the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). They were honest in acknowledging that they didn't know much about it, much less whether it was going to be good or bad. Ultimately, the free trade accord involving the United States, Mexico and Canada was approved and went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994.


Once more, as in Modesto, it was a non-Mexican Hispanic, a lawyer of Peruvian background, who acted as a spokesman for the Hispanics who were complaining about discrimination. I may have been the only Hispanic on staff at the Desert Sun at the time, and this lawyer and other Hispanic community leaders expressed disappointment when I told them I was leaving Palm Springs.


I wondered out loud why California was not a better place for Hispanics and other minorities in general. After all, wasn't the state at the vanguard of the Chicano Movement? In summary, the responses I received were that not much had changed in everyday life for minorities in the Golden State. In my short time, I was proud of having had a hand in getting the Desert Sun to hire another minority journalist, a young Asian reporter from a Central Valley newspaper.


Cesar Chavez, leader of the United Farm Workers Union who inspired the Delano grape boycott, died while I was at the Palm Springs paper. I spoke Spanish so I was asked to interview farm workers in Coachella for their reactions. By the time I arrived in the fields, the news had reached us that Chavez, who had received death threats and was nearly poisoned once, died of natural causes on April 23, 1993.


Several farm workers gathered at a center to talk to reporters. Something came over me when I approached the first two farm workers: I started to cry before I could finish asking my question about Cesar Chavez. So much for being a professional journalist. [A grandson of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union and Chavez's right hand, married one of my nieces in California.]


Palm Springs had great restaurants, beautiful scenery, and not all its visitors were royals or movie stars. A group of Hell's Angels bikers once sat two tables from me at an outside cafe. They wanted someone else's table and asked for it. Once I realized who the bikers were, I asked them if they wouldn't mind being interviewed by a reporter. They did. Their smiles turned quickly to scowls and they became hostile. I finished my meal and returned to the newsroom.


After I returned to El Paso, Texas, I learned that the dream newsroom that was the Desert Sun at the time fell apart. The paper got a new publisher and editor, and just about everyone who was there was forced out or quit. The upheaval led to the later removal of one of the new top editors. To use a cliche, nothing lasts forever; the talented staff that I had worked alongside scattered.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Politics, drug trade, corruption discussed on KTEP Radio

KTEP's Louie Saenz with Diana Washington Valdez at the

University of Texas studio.
Diana Washington Valdez and Louie Saenz talk about journalism trends, The Digie Zone and The Digie Zone Express and other interesting topics like politics, the drug trade and government corruption on KTEP Radio. 

Listen to the KTEP interview