Miami (November 25, 2009)–The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed its appreciation for the Antonio Asensio Journalism Prize presented by the Zeta Group of Spain during a ceremony in Madrid this week. Presenting the award, the Prince of Asturias praised the work of the hemisphere organization in defense of press freedom and against violence towards journalists.
During the November 23 ceremony in the Spanish capital, murder and impunity were assailed as flagrant violations of press freedom; Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, accepted the statue on behalf of the IAPA. The Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbón, encouraged the organization to “continue moving forward”, because, “freedom propels democracy throughout the world.” Similar remarks were made by Spain’s King Juan Carlos I at the October 2008 official inauguration of the IAPA’s 64th General Assembly, in Madrid, when he defended respect for freedom of information and of expression as an “essential condition” to democratic nations.
During his acceptance speech Santos Calderón, immediate past president of the IAPA, referred to the “especially difficult times faced throughout the Americas,” citing among other problems the financial crisis that has led to the shutdown of numerous newspapers, the hostile and intolerant attitudes of certain governments, repression of journalists and news media, and the “persistent violence” unleashed by organized crime against news men and women.
Stating that 16 journalists have been murdered so far this year in Latin America Santos Calderón pledged the IAPA’s commitment to continue its battle to solve “unpunished crimes”.
For his part, current IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, managing editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, declared, “As an organization we are proud that the work we do on behalf of the people’s right to press freedom and free speech is being recognized -- work whose success is due to the support and commitment of the members of our organization in every country of the Americas and very especially the backing of foundations, such as the John S. and James L. Knight and the Robert McCormick foundations, closely identified with our mission.
In attendance at the ceremony, which paid homage to the more than 350 journalists murdered in the Americas over the last 20 years, were Princess of Asturias, Letizia Ortiz; representatives of political organizations, news media and Spanish civil society.
The Antonio Asensio Journalism Prize, named in honor of the founder of the multimedia Zeta Group, recognizes people and institutions for their outstanding contributions in the field of communication, for their journalistic work or their commitment to the defense of freedom of expression. It was awarded to the IAPA for “its determination in the constant battle for freedom of information and of expression” and in the defense of the dignity of journalists.