Colombia seems to be a hotspot for constant conflict, yet the recent peace deal between the government and the FARC has been cause for hope.
Below, our student fellow Connie E spoke with Angelika Albaladejo about her on-the-ground observations as a freelance multimedia journalist based in Medellín, Colombia. Angelika’s work focuses on human rights, security, women’s rights, gender-based violence and social protest in Latin America, with an eye on U.S. policy and assistance to the region.
Between April 2015 and August 2016, Angelika worked as a Program Associate with the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) where she engaged in research, writing, advocacy and communications work for the organization’s campaigns on Colombia, Cuba, and the “northern triangle” countries of Central America: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Previous to working at LAWG, Angelika was the Latin America Rights and Security Fellow at the Center for International Policy (CIP) in the fall of 2014 and the co-host and co-producer of Periphery, an independent podcast on security and rights in the Americas from 2014 to 2015.
Fun fact: “I ran a small business called ‘Vans-Gogh: Hand-Painted Shoes’ through college, painting shoes and other clothing items for clients around the world.”
FPI: Why have you chosen to report on Latin America and the issues around human rights, gender and security?
My interest in Latin America was sparked by my family’s background. My mother is from Cuba, her family was exiled after the revolution there and my father’s family is from Puerto Rico. Growing up in South Florida around a very large Hispanic population, I was very interested in Latino politics. When I went to study at George Mason, I thought I would focus on the United States, but my research on the conflict in Colombia set me forward on this path of working on security in Latin America. I started researching issues of human trafficking and girl child combatants in the Colombian conflict and that’s really where my interest was peaked in how security situations throughout the Americas are impacting various groups but particularly women and marginalized communities.
My career started off more on the think tank and advocacy side of things in D.C. I was working mostly on U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America and the impact that U.S. policies were having in the region.
After working in D.C. for about two years, I decided to pick up, move to the region and spend time doing more fieldwork. I’d had an experience doing fieldwork in El Salvador with the Latin America Working Group. It sparked my interest in doing more on-the-ground reporting and that’s why I decided to move to Colombia.
Read the rest of this interview from the Interruptor Series on Foreign Policy Interrupted.