Maria Hinojosa and Simon Romero have built careers on telling stories.
Both journalists have stepped into the realm of border issues, among many others.
516 Arts, in partnership with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, is bringing the pair to explore issues of immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border at 7 p.m. Friday at the KiMo Theatre.
The event is also the final in a series of public programming for the exhibit “The US-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility.”
“We knew we wanted to present public programs that really speak to the current moment in conjunction with the exhibition about the US-Mexico border, as the exhibition was curated over several years before the 2016 election,” said Suzanne Sbarge, 516 Arts executive director. “Maria Hinojosa’s name came up right away as someone who has her finger on the pulse and can speak to what’s happening now. I reached out to her as a fellow alumnus of Barnard College and she responded right away. And our curator Josie Lopez contacted Simon Romero last year when she heard he would be relocating back to New Mexico after over a decade of reporting on Latin America with the NY Times. Both of these leading journalists focus on immigration as one of the key issues facing our region and the planet.”
Romero is the national correspondent for The New York Times and focuses on immigration. He is based out of New Mexico.
“We’ll be talking about the situation on the border,” Romero said. “I have a broad definition of it like borderlands. It reaches up here in Albuquerque and further north. And then even further south to Monterrey.”
The development of National Guard troops being sent to the border as well as the decline of new immigrants crossing the border will be discussed, Romero said.
The pair will also discuss drug trafficking.
Some of what Romero and Hinojosa will speak about is the 516 Arts exhibit.
“A lot of what we will talk about relates to the great works of art at 516 Arts,” he said. “They’ve organized an incredibly evocative exhibit. We’ll also be talking about the work we do as journalists and how crucial our work has become. I’m looking forward to hearing from Maria about her body of work that is incredible and richly textured.”
Romero returns to New Mexico after being posted out of the country for 11 years.
The Ribera native was based in Brazil from 2011-2017. During his time there, he covered Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Romero was the Andean bureau chief, based in Caracas, Venezuela, from 2006 to 2011. He joined the Times in March 1999.
“I was based in Venezuela and wrote about human migration in Latin America as well as political issues,” he said. “I had spent time on the (U.S.-Mexico) border and I’m getting to know the region again. I spend a lot of my time in Texas and Arizona and it’s different from covering a foreign country. You have to play very close attention to what you’re writing about and get everything right.”
Lopez said free and independent press is an integral part of a functioning democracy.
“At a time when journalists and journalism in both the U.S. and Mexico are under attack, it is more important than ever to be aware of obstacles facing the press and to understand the sources of information that are circulated through a widening array of media formats,” Lopez said.
If you go
WHAT: Maria Hinojosa and Simon Romero in conversation followed by exhibition closing reception at 516 Arts
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, April 13
WHERE: KiMo Theatre, 423 Central NW
HOW MUCH: $12 general admission, $8 friends of 516 Arts at kimotickets.com