Hello folks, we continue our focus on El Paso's mujer writers. This turn in focused on Diana Washington Valdez who's new book Cosecha de Mujeres is raising a storm in Mexico. We republish an article by Noemi Herrera:
El Paso’s Newest Chicana Writer
Published in Pluma Fronteriza, Summer 2002
“I wanted to
be a poet. I
wanted to be
writer. I can’t
A true hermana of the written word, we know Diana Washington Valdez best as El Paso Times border affairs reporter, but we can soon add
her to our roster of Chicana authors.
Expect her first book, Harvest of Women (proposed title), to hit shelves early next year. Estimated at 200 pages and roughly 10 chapters, the book promises to give readers a revealing account of the Cd. Juárez women murders from an insider’s perspective. Diana has been the lead reporter on the Juárez murders since it attracted national attention about two years ago. About six months into her investigative reporting, she realized there was a lot of information that would fall on the cutting-room floor, never to be seen by readers.
“So I had the idea for the book,” Diana said. “I thought I had wrapped (the book) up last year in the summer, until the eight bodies in November were discovered. Then I realized I had to go back and do some updates.”
It was during the process of updating, and shortly before the eight bodies were found, that official sources revealed to Diana the identities of several of the alleged killers, information Diana discloses in a special El Paso Times two-part report, June 23-24. But she assures us her book will have more details.
“(The book) will be told from a personal account, basically for literary purposes, to be able to tell a story. This is a result of my asking several people in journalism and other areas about what kind of book they would prefer to read: an academic book, a 200-page newspaper-like report or something that’s more personal. They said they definitely want to know the personal stuff.”
Now nearing completion, several big-name publishers are wooing Diana for rights to publish and market the book. Expected to attract wide attention, the book may be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in the category of new authors.
La periodista internacional
Until she retires to pursue a full-time book-writing career, Diana will continue to hold one of the most coveted beats, border affairs. It’s a beat highly sought after by aspiring reporters because of its enviable travel opportunities, world perspective, and wide-ranging news topic possibilities.
As border affairs reporter, Diana has covered the gamut of topics: crime, social injustice, environmental woes, NAFTA, various U.S. government agencies, corruption, political elections, drug busts, immigrants, the economy.
On the other hand, there is a sobering reality that comes with reporting on a country known for its crooked police, corrupt government officials, and ruthless drug lords. In fact, in all her years of reporting, drug trafficking and the Juárez women murders are two subjects Diana considers most challenging.
“It’s not easy to go to a country where you don’t have access to public documents,” Diana said. “You have to use many different ways of getting information. It can be dangerous sometimes. It’s like being a war correspondent without going off to a formally declared war.”
Diana accepts that fear may come with the territory; but looks at it with clear eyes, citing a philosophy that cuts to the chase: don’t base your life on fear and don’t be afraid of evil people.
“No matter how shady (people) are or what their reputations are, they really are just human beings. They are no less immortal than we are,” she said.
On the topic of Sept. 11, the day many say changed the world, Diana offers this observation on how the border changed. “One of the ways it’s affected us most visibly is the long lines at the bridges and how it’s hurt the economy on both sides of the border. It’s consequently affected our quality of life. We spend a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of resources paying attention to one area of
our national security to the neglect of others.”
La mujer detras la periodista
Born in Cuernavaca, Mexico, El Paso is home for Diana. From infancy, she grew up in East Central El Paso, graduated from Bel Air High School, and received her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in political science from UTEP. Having grown up in a military family and having retired from the National Guard herself, she’s lived in Europe and on the U.S. west and east coasts.
People can find her early bylines in the Prospector where her investigative talent first reared its head when, in a UTEP restroom, she cornered an evasive Diana Natalicio, who later was being considered for the university’s presidency.
After college, she took her first daily newspaper job with the Las Cruces Sun News. Later, she worked in northern California for The Modesto Bee, followed by a stint in Palm Springs, California, writing for The Desert Sun.
She’s received numerous journalism awards over the years, the most recent being the UTEP Communication Department Hicks-Middagh Award for outstanding ex.
It’s not many who can say they are living their childhood dream successfully. For Diana, the dream was always writing.
“I remember in sixth grade doing a short story for one of my classes and realizing that was one of the things I really wanted to do in life,” she said.
“I didn’t devote myself as much to writing as an artistic style, as much as I did to journalism.”
But that’s something she plans to change. With dreams of becoming a full-time book writer, Diana hopes to publish a couple of nonfiction novels before dabbling with fiction.
Although she cannot imagine not writing, other professions that interest her stay in the realm of global affairs, including teaching, human rights advocacy, work with the International Red Cross, involvement with community development programs for the United Nations.
To read more of Diana’s writings, “Google” her online.
The link we share with you today is:
Alberto Rios' website: