"Artists can raise awareness toward a more sustainable and equitable future"
Catalina Lobo-Guerrero, is the winner of the Simón Bolívar Premio al Libro Periodístico Los Restos de la Revolución and also alumni of the Master in Literary Creation.
What have you been doing career wise since you graduated from UPF-BSM?
I have been reporting and writing as a freelance journalist in Colombia, working on different types of stories: migration issues, vaccine access and treatments, social protests, trans women’s rights, murdered journalists, etc. Before the Covid-19 pandemic started I was also travelling often to other countries in Latin America, exploring and fostering a dynamic conversation about the future and possibilities of investigative journalism in the region, as the Global Investigative Journalism Network’s Spanish editor.
Besides my ongoing reporting assignments, I continued working on my book, Los restos de la revolución, a memoir-reportage of my previous years (2012-2015) as a foreign correspondent in Caracas, Venezuela. The book was finally published by Aguilar, Penguin Random House’s non fiction label in Colombia, in april 2021, and it won the Simon Bolivar national journalism award.
Congratulations on winning the Simón Bolívar prize with your book, what does this mean to you?
I’m thrilled. It's good to know that this kind of longform, slow cooked journalism, that only exists in books or documentaries, is still appreciated in such a fast paced instant news world. It’s also a great opportunity for the book to reach more readers who didn't even know it existed.
Los Restos de la Revolución is an attempt to understand and explain, to myself and others, what happened in Venezuela after Hugo Chávez came to power
What is Los Restos de la Revolución about?
It’s an attempt to understand and explain, to myself and others, what happened in Venezuela after Hugo Chávez came to power, and also how things shifted in the so-called Bolivarian Socialist Revolution after he died in march 2013. I explore key areas (the justice system, the armed forces, the economy, the media) crucial moments (the 2002 coup, elections) and themes (political polarization, ideology, populism, truth, hope and fear) of the country's most recent political history through the stories of different characters as well as my own experience as a key witness and foreign correspondent.
How did you transform your Master's Thesis into a book?
My master's thesis was part of my rough draft. I think it encompassed the first two or three chapters of the book. I then continued writing, expanding and improving that draft for two more years.
After UPF-BSM I know that having solid reporting isn't enough, good storytelling involves working carefully with language, structure, characters, scenes, timing...
What did you learn in the UPF-BSM that you apply to your current work?
As a journalist, I was always very focused on reporting and getting the information I needed. After UPF-BSM I know that having solid reporting isn't enough, good storytelling involves working carefully with language, structure, characters, scenes, timing... and other key elements which are now also part of my writing process, whether I’m working on a short story or a longer piece.
What is the role of literature, journalism or the arts in general in spreading the SDG?
Journalists, writers, artists can help raise issues, expand awareness, and explore urgent questions and problems that might help others understand the past and the present, and imagine different solutions that aim toward a more sustainable and equitable future.
How do you see your future in a few years?
Professionally, I see myself reporting, investigating and writing non-fiction longform pieces and books. I have also become increasingly interested in exploring other formats, such as podcasts and have started working on a series of short fiction stories.