I first heard about Camilo Mejia in a Spanish-language media class last semester. I was developing a story about Latino resistance to the military and my professor gave me his name. After a quick, first telephone interview and reading the beginning of his book, I realized I needed to do a one-on-one interview in person with Mejia to really understand the depth of his story and amazing journey.
I was able to arrange a meeting with Mejia in his new North Miami home. The house was still empty, and there was an echo in the living room.
We talked about his childhood in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, where he said he experienced isolation and discrimination. He explained his opinions on war and peace, what he makes of the current state of Nicaraguan politics (his father was a vice presidential candidate in the 2006 elections) and his wonderful relationship with his daughter. For roughly two-and-a-half hours, I had a chance to pick the brain of an activist, an author, a true lover of life and language. It was worth the humidity and ant bites (he warned me against standing on an ant hill in his back yard).
The great thing about being a journalist is the ability to keep learning. As reporters, editors, publishers, etc., we are constant students and learners. That is truly what I love about my job. We are also liaisons between the public and information. We report news and distribute it to people who will hopefully read, listen and watch to learn something about the world they live in. In his book, Mejia gives a stark criticism of the mainstream media’s coverage of the war, calling them mediocre and superficial. I hope that this piece gives him hope that we as journalists, and as readers, can change that.