There’s life in Latin America

When a suicide bomber blows himself up in Islamabad, the eyes of the world go to the Middle East. Images of malnourished children with swollen bellies batting away flies turn our focus to Africa. If it’s bush fires and disappearances in the outback, then Australasia comes to mind. Just the mention of the terms ‘European Union’ and ‘ratification’ leaves us pondering what our neighbours are up to and as for the USA – well that doesn’t even need to rustle a crisp packet to warrant our attention.

But wait…something’s missing. Isn’t there another part of the world that lies forgotten by the UK’s media? An area of the globe that boasts the highest murder toll, the fastest growing rate of deforestation and the most unequal distribution of wealth than anywhere else in the world, yet still the stories go untold.

The summer before I jetted off to spend eight months in Central America I was doing work experience at Sky News. While I was there I asked Rob Kirk, the Editorial Manager, whereabouts their Latin American correspondents were located. I thought it would be a great chance to meet up with them and gain a first-hand insight into international reporting – a field that I’ve always dreamed of one day entering into myself.

He laughed, then replied: ‘We don’t have any.’

I was confused. This was Sky News – SKY NEWS – the 24-hour satellite news channel that prides itself on being: ‘First For Breaking News’. I didn’t understand. ‘Why not?’ I asked, surprised.

‘Because nothing happens there,’ he said, before going on to clarify that if it did then they would just fly somebody out there to cover the story.

Hmmm, that got me thinking – how can you be the first to break a news story if you wait for it to break before sending a reporter out to cover it?

 Then I thought about the BBC, ITN, Channel 4 News, the international news sections of various broadsheets and concluded that the last time I’d seen Latin America in the press was when a bus overturned in Ecuador killing five British girls. It was a tragic accident that shed momentary light on a corner of the world not usually explored by the British media but no sooner had the light been turned on than it was promptly turned off again.

 It’s taken a Pele-backed Olympic bid to cast the focus back onto Latin America and draw the nation’s attention once again to this largely overlooked area of the globe. In recent weeks Rio’s successful proposal has attracted a lot of media attention; some supportive and others critical. Many are speculating how South America will handle its first Olympic Games considering Brazil’s failure to deliver on their promises when it hosted the 2007 Pan-American Games.

This blog will be about about some of the events that unfolded during my time in Central America and some of the things that are happening both there and in South America right now – from conspiracy theories involving the Guatemalan president, to beheadings, military coups and various other stories that have failed to stir the media here.


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