Daniel Samper Pizano ’81

A native of Colombia, Pizano has been an investigative reporter, editor and columnist

When I arrived at Harvard with my Nieman Fellowship floating as a proud aureole over my balding head, I took, among other courses, John Womack’s class on Latin American history. His course led me to the fascinating subject of Mexican history, and the fascinating subject of Mexican history made me an avid reader of stories about Mexican generals Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, and other characters active in the country’s peculiar, bloody and picturesque 1910-1920 civil war. Thirty years later, the comparison between fiction and nonfiction writing on the topic of the Mexican Revolution is the basis of my seminar about journalism and literature at Gabriel García Márquez's Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Nieman year was a wonderful journalistic gym, in which we Fellows became stronger, healthier and more athletic as professionals. I felt more prepared to keep doing what I had been doing, and I knew I wasn’t alone on this dangerous planet, something that was very important to me a few years after my Fellowship ended, when threats from the Colombian drug mafia forced me to flee to Spain, where I have been living and working ever since.