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Annie Murphy

Annie Murphy’s work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Miami Herald, The Nation, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Times of London. Her essay “Father Copper,” about Chilean copper mining, appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of VQR. She is based in South America, where she works as a regular contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered, Marketplace, and Morning Edition.


All Rivers Lead to the Sea

Summer 2011 | Reporting

As a child, Oridia Paredes dreamed of walls. For the daughter of itinerant fishermen in Chilean Patagonia, daily life was built not around a house or a neighborhood, but the sea—and for Paredes, walls became a symbol of the life that her parents were never able to attain. Instead, the family hopscotched from islet to islet, piling possessions into their boat, and motoring to the next spot near where the fish were running.

Once More, Potosi

Santiago Qispe, twenty-nine, hollows out a hole for dynamite in Pairaviri, the largest mine in Potosí, Bolivia. Qispe is the leader of a group of fi ve, mining silver and zinc. He went to work when he was twelve.At Caracoles Mine, men unload mineral [...]

Father Copper

Fall 2010 | Reporting

When Carmen Ahumada first looked on the copper mining city of Calama, she wanted to die. It was 1958, long after Germany’s World War I-era invention of artificial saltpeter—the main ingredient in bombs—brought Chile’s glory days as a world supplier to an end and made obsolete the tiny, arduous saltpeter towns that had cropped up all over the Atacama Desert.

Past Tomorrow: A Letter From Bolivia

In 2004, Bolivia’s postal service led a campaign to write the world’s longest letter. It collected missives from school children, glued and taped them together to form a chain over fifty kilometers long, and addressed it to the United Nations. Th [...]