MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Associated Press has named Ricardo Mazalan, who has covered major stories ranging from the Rwandan genocide to the rise of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, as deputy news director for photography and storytelling for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The announcement was made Thursday by Matt Chandler, AP’s news director for the region.

“Ricardo is very respected among photographers, with decades of experience managing big, breaking stories and organizing challenging special events. He is very focused on making AP’s Latin America report as competitive as possible and meeting customer demands,” Chandler said.

“That includes telling stories in innovative ways to help the AP reach new audiences.”

Mazalan, 54, joined AP in Bogota, Colombia, in 1990 at the height of that country’s drug war. Beyond the conflict in Colombia, he has covered political instability, coups and social upheaval throughout the region, including Chavez’s rise to power in Venezuela.

His career with AP has taken him to dozens of countries. In the mid-1990s, as chief photographer in East Africa, he supervised AP’s photo coverage and documented civil war and conflict in Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo. In 1994, he was shot through both legs by a sniper in Kigali while covering the Rwandan genocide.

Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, Mazalan has led challenging breaking news and major sporting events including the first visit by Pope John Paul II to Cuba. He has also taken part in covering many World Cups and Olympic Games and twice served as a juror for the World Press Photo Awards.

Mazalan will work closely with Senior Photo Editor Leslie Mazoch in the running of the regional photo desk in Mexico City, a desk he set up in 2006. Together they will focus on speed and breaking news and the quality of AP’s news, sports and enterprise projects.

Mazalan is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina.