“I am interested in exploring the economic and political roots of migration — the why.”
Name: Diana Montaño
Birth place: Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation: Multimedia Journalist and Youth Media Educator
Languages: Spanish, English, enough Tagalog to impress a Filipino grandma, and currently working on my French.
Currently reading: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. He is one of those authors I keep trying to force myself to like because everyone else seems to.
What is your most memorable international experience?
Working as both a business reporter and an arts and culture editor at the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia. On the business side, I was able to learn about the virtually unbridled development taking place in the country and region, and both the benefits and downfalls that come with it.
On the cultural side, my eyes were opened to the role that artistic expression plays in a post-conflict society — both in healing old collective wounds and in creating a new sense of identity from the ashes.
I also did a lot of reporting on deportees, Cambodian refugees raised in the U.S. and recently deported back to Cambodia. Seeing the human side of what happens to people when they return to a “homeland” they hardly know — most were born in Thai refugee camps — was also a very powerful experience.
How did you become interested in international affairs?
I’m an immigrant kid — I was born in Mexico and grew up in the US — so my life perspective is international by default. However, I did a study abroad program in college where we visited India, South Africa and Brazil to study urban development, and this was definitely what first exposed me to the development and human rights issues that I am passionate about to this day.
What international issue is of greatest interest to you today? Why?
The massive displacement of people from their homelands and territories, also known as migration. I am interested less in the “crisis response” angle that often dominates coverage, especially in Europe, and more interested in exploring the economic and political roots of migration — the why.
I am interested in speaking with immigrants about the free trade policies that jeopardized their ability to compete in the market and make a living as farmers, or in the colonial legacies that have played a hand in creating unstable political systems. Without this understanding, we lack the context to come up with solutions.
As a Mexican journalist, I am also extremely concerned with the systematic harassment and assassination of journalists in my home country. I personally do not feel safe going to Mexico to practice my profession, something that is both heartbreaking and infuriating.