Being a foreign correspondent means living between two worlds. You are an outsider, a foreigner. But you are also insider, with unprecedented access to those in power. You become part of the country in which you live, participating in the culture and developing lasting friendships. And yet you are always apart, observing, commenting, translating, and explaining.
Eloy Aguilar, left, the legendary former AP bureau chief in Mexico City, was the country’s ultimate foreign correspondent because he had one foot on each side of the border. He grew up in Texas and served in the U.S. Army before becoming a journalist in Latin America, settling in Mexico City in 1979. He had an intimate knowledge of both countries but always maintained a critical distance.
I first met Eloy when I was a young freelancer in Mexico City and he was the president of the foreign correspondents association. He helped me navigate the two worlds he knew so well, freely dispensing advice and wisdom. He was deeply committed to press freedom and the welfare of his colleagues and provided insight and information to CPJ on so many occasions.
Eloy died Friday at the age 72. His friends are gathering Wednesday to toast Eloy one final time. I wish I were there to raise a glass and say thank you.