Alma Guillermoprieto

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Alma Guillermoprieto (born May 27th, 1949) is a Mexican journalist who has written extensively about Latin America for the British and American press. Her writings have also been widely disseminated within the Spanish-speaking world.


Guillermoprieto was born and grew up in Mexico City. In her teens, she moved to New York City with her mother and she studied modern dance for several years. From 1962 to 1973, she was a professional dancer.

Her first book, Samba (1990), was an account of a season studying at a samba school in Rio de Janeiro.[1]

In the mid-1970s, she started her career as a journalist for The Guardian, moving later to The Washington Post''. In January, 1982, Guillermoprieto, then based in Mexico City, was one of two journalists (the other was Raymond Bonner of The New York Times) who broke the story of the El Mozote massacre in which some 900 villagers at El Mozote, El Salvador, were slaughtered by the Salvadoran army in December, 1981.

With great hardship and at great personal risk, she was smuggled in by FMLN rebels to visit the site approximately a month after the massacre took place. When the story broke simultaneously in the Post and Times on January 27, 1982, it was dismissed as propaganda by the Reagan administration.

Subsequently, however, the details of the massacre as first reported by Guillermoprieto and Bonner were verified, with widespread repercussions.[2]

During much of the subsequent decade, Guillermoprieto was a South American bureau chief for Newsweek.

Guillermoprieto won an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship[3] in 1985 for research and writing about changes in rural life under the policies of the European Economic Community.

During the 1990s, she came into her own as a freelance writer, producing long, extensively researched articles on Latin American culture and politics for The New Yorker,[4] and The New York Review of Books,[5] including outstanding pieces on the Colombian civil war, the Shining Path during the Internal conflict in Peru, the aftermath of the "Dirty War" in Argentina, and post-Sandinista Nicaragua. These were bundled in the book The Heart That Bleeds (1994), now considered a classic portrait of the politics and culture of Latin America during the "lost decade" (it was published in Spanish as Al pie de un volcán te escribo — Crónicas latinoamericanas in 1995).

In 1993, she published an article in the New Yorker on Pablo Escobar; this article, "Exit El Patron," was referenced in the Netflix series "Narcos".

In April 1995, at the request of Gabriel García Márquez, Guillermoprieto taught the inaugural workshop at the Fundación para un Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano, an institute for promoting journalism that was established by García Márquez in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. She has since held seven workshops for young journalists throughout the continent.

That same year, Guillermoprieto also received a MacArthur Fellowship.

A second anthology of articles, Looking for History, was published in 2001, which won a George Polk Award. She also published a collection of articles in Spanish on the Mexican crisis, El año en que no fuimos felices.

In 2004, Guillermoprieto published a memoir, Dancing with Cuba, which revolved on the year she spent living in Cuba in her early twenties. An excerpt from it was published in 2003 in The New Yorker. In the fall of 2008, she joined the faculty of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago, as a Tinker Visiting Professor.[6]

In 2018, she won the Premio Princesa de Asturias in Communication and Humanities, Spain's most prestigious award for authors.



  • Guillermoprieto, Alma (1990). Samba. New York: Knopf.
  • The Heart That Bleeds Knopf, 1994
  • Looking for History, Random House, Inc., 2001, ISBN 978-0-375-42094-8
  • Dancing with Cuba Pantheon Books, 2004, ISBN 978-0-375-42093-1
  • Las guerras en Colombia, Aguilar, ISBN 978-958-704-635-9
  • Al pie de un volcán te escribo Plaza y Janés, 2000, ISBN 978-968-11-0438-2
  • Los años en que no fuimos felices: crónicas de la transición mexicana, Plaza & Janés México, 1999, ISBN 978-968-11-0412-2
  • Las guerras en Colombia: tres ensayos, Aguilar, 2000, ISBN 978-958-8061-51-1
  • La Habana en un espejo, Debate, 2005, ISBN 9789802932986

Essays, reporting and other contributions[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-10. Retrieved 2010-05-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "The Dead Tell Their Tales", NEWSWEEK, Tom Masland, Nov 2, 1992
  3. ^ "Alicia Patterson Foundation".
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2010-05-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Alma Guillermoprieto". The New York Review of Books.
  6. ^ "Tinker Visiting Professors". Archived from the original on 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2010-05-09.

External links[edit]