LAII Sends Journalists to Learn About Latin America's Energy Future

July 14, 2011

In May, 2011, two New Mexico journalists received support from the Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII) to attend the 29th Annual Journalists and Editors Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean sponsored by Florida International University. The workshop took place May 5-6, 2011 at the Hotel Sofitel in Miami, Florida, and addressed topics related to "Latin America's Energy Future." Adriana Sanchez, a reporter who has written on U.S.-Mexico border issues, and Carlos Navarro, a writer and editor for the Latin America Data Base (LADB) News Service, both attended the event with funding provided by the LAII. Ben Witte-Lehbar, a freelancer who writes about South and Central America for the LADB, was also able to attend with funding from Florida International University.

As part of its outreach to media representatives, the LAII offers a media travel grant each spring to support a New Mexico journalist's attendance at the annual Journalists and Editors Workshop. The workshop is intended to provide journalists with an enhanced understanding and awareness of news issues related to Latin America by bringing together media professionals, policy-makers and scholars for on-the-record discussions about the hemisphere's most pressing issues. In 2011, prominent journalists and scholars from the US, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Mexico came together to discuss Latin America's energy powerhouses, Central America and the Caribbean's energy needs, geo-politics and conflict, nuclear and non-conventional renewable energy and energy development and security.

"Attending the conference was a life changing experience for me," said Sanchez. "It allowed me to see the potential Latin America has to develop economically and socially through the biofuel industry. The support of UNM to publications, professionals, and students interested in alternative and traditional energy sources is an investment in the economic development of New Mexico."

According to Navarro, the theme of the conference was very much in line with topics that are covered in NotiEn, the monthly newsletter on energy in the Americas that is published through La Energaia-L project at UNM. "We had very dynamic speakers, who discussed important topics like renewable energy, nuclear power and energy policy in countries like Brazil, Venezuela, and Mexico," said Navarro, who is editor of NotiEn. "I was able to get a lot of background that will be useful for NotiEn." Indeed, the latest edition of NotiEn (Vol 2, Issue 9) expands on the workshop's topics, particularly with an article by Sanchez on Biofuels Fighting for Space in Central America and Cuba.

Navarro, who also oversees the publication of the three newsletters at the LADB, said the speakers at the conference also provided valuable information about energy in Cuba and Central America.

The 29th Annual Journalists and Editors Workshop was presented by the Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) at Florida International University (FIU) and co-sponsored by the Miami Consortium for Latin American and Caribbean Studies' US Department of Education Title VI Grant, ExxonMobil InterAmerica, FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the FIU International Media Center. The LAII was able to support the attendance of New Mexico journalists at the event with funding provided by the LAII's Title VI National Resource Center grant and TICFIA program grant.