21 October 2014


On Sunday, April 5, 1992, twenty two years ago,  I was at home watching TV while my wife was practicing what was her favorite hobby, to give me a haircut,  when suddenly there was a single signal on TV announcing the coup d’ etat perpetrated by Fujimori against Peruvian democracy. It was the start of the perverse model that destroyed the newly-born institutionality in the country, protecting itself under the umbrella of pacification and attempting an economic and moral raid against our nation. I rushed to the newspaper, talked to my father on the phone and asked him to protect himself because arrests and search warrants had begun.  When I finally got there, a after eluding three safety rings (our offices were located three blocks away from the government palace), I ran into a platoon of armed soldiers who were patrolling our newsroom at the command of an officer, all hooded. We could only see their eyes, but I could notice in them much more fear than in the journalists’ eyes. If there is something that differentiates free men is their conviction and, trust me, in these moments there is nothing that makes you feel more angry than the dragging of the boots in a newsroom and nothing that stimulates you more than feeling the force of ideas and the pens over that of the guns and the bullets. They urged us to correct our texts– “do not include the word coup”, they requested. “No” we told them, either we write coup or the page will be blank.  On the next day our edition revealed the censorship of that time through the spaces left in blank. My father told me “go and look for help outside” from organizations linked to the freedom of the press and that is how months later we joined IAPA.  It was only until 1995 that I attended the assembly that was being held at Tamanaco Hotel in Venezuela. Peru is no longer the same today, and Venezuela either.  In the country we recovered freedom while our colleagues from Venezuela continue to be sunk in one of the most repressive regimes in the Latin American history. And this is because the freedom of the press is not a goal in itself my dear colleagues, it is a constant battle we have to fight, in every act, in every gesture.  This is the spirit my family lives through and which I cultivated and enriched in this dearest institution and it is what inspires me in this stellar time of my life. Therefore, I will immediately promote a pronouncement to ask the immediate release of Leopoldo Lopez who is in jail and prevented from expressing his opinion in that country. In the past few days we have seen it again. The work of the IAPA’s Executive Committee, of all its different Committees, and the country-by-country reports show that we are facing a scenario full of difficult issues. This makes the challenge even more difficult, but far from dreading us it stimulates our task. Today that freedom of expression seems to be more throttled than ever before. Today, where your enemies are more subtle and they do not give up in their attempt of silencing voices. We tell them that we look to the horizon with the optimism and the conviction of men of faith, whose pens may destroy tyrannies. And I say this based on my own experience.  Because it is always darkest before the dawn; it is necessary to be firm because we know after the storm comes the calm, we know that after the storm we will reach the shore of our longed democracy. My first message then is to encourage our harassed colleagues, we are with you, we accompany you in every activity; we will double our efforts to accompany you in your fight, do not give up because we won’t. I would like to make a commitment. During my presidency of IAPA we will work toward the consolidation of the freedom of the press, the free practice of journalism and the recovery of democracy and the Republican regime.  We will fight over the separation and the balance of the powers and over the full enforcement of the State of Law that guarantees the freedom and the legitimate and undeniable rights of the human being. And we will do this in every single minute. We will be there: at the meetings, in the congresses, before international organizations, building up strength with friend organizations.  We will visit country after country, we will speak with their authorities, whether or not there is freedom of the press, we will be with our colleagues and with our committees, and journalists and citizens. This is why I would like for Claudio Paolillo de Busqueda – Uruguay to continue heading the iconic Commission for the Freedom of the Press and Information which he has been leading for the last few years in a very efficient manner. No doubt, Ricardo Trotti will add all his vast experience and knowledge. Ricardo will assume as the Executive Director and no doubt with his notable and broad experience will be an asset to our institution. Our roadmap will be very conscious of the recently approved strategic plan which commission I would like to be presided over by Maria Elvira Dominguez of El Pais – Colombia, who has advanced through a very perseverant and effortful mission. But this is not the only challenge we have ahead, dear friends. While we try to preserve the freedom, the world is undergoing a quick transformation that affects mass media in a very strong manner. I am speaking of the new world of Internet, which although releases us from restrictions presents us with new scenarios and tasks we must accomplish. We are talking about the defense of copyright and ways to establish a legitimate economic compensation. We talk about the reaffirmation of Internet freedom against government restrictions. We are talking about a system in which privacy and honor of citizens are not damaged, but where there is no hindrance or sanctions to safe, informative activity, except when they defame or libel with malice. So I have recreated the Internet Commission that will be chaired by Ernesto Kraiselburd of El Día -Argentina, who has already presided over in the past and whose competence and knowledge in the subject is proven. From this committee and shoulder to shoulder with the young people in our institution we will work to be leaders, as IAPA has done in all levels and in every task it undertakes. I am announcing a meeting of this commission and its members in Peru early next year to start working. This commission will work closely with the Institute of IAPA Press, chaired by Silvia Miro Quesada of El Comercio-Peru, who together with Matt Sanders Deseret News-USA, have been carrying out  intensive digital programs and have scheduled a digital annual conference “digital IAPA Connect” in June in Miami. I want to underline the great work of the Scholarship Fund which will have my full support. I will contribute so that CLAEP, our accreditation service of journalism schools and colleges, which is wonderfully headed by Tony Pederson of Southern Methodist University – U.S. and Maria Helena- Vivas from the University of Antioquia will perform an increasingly important and effective work for IAPA. Strengthening the Association is also our priority, with a more challenging outlook compared to last year’s.  We are in a stage of transition; we have a long way to go. To this end, we have as our legacy what Julio Muñoz– who leaves the Executive Management, has advanced. He did a great job during his 32 years in front of IAPA’s Executive Management, and Ricardo Trotti will inject renewed impetus. We will readapt and rationalize the office looking to optimize the resources without this meaning a downturn in its activity and in the objectives and the purposes of the association. We all have to work together. We will have to intensify the fund-raising efforts, since funding is always scarce.  We have ratified what we will call the Commission for Fund Raising and Resources which will continue to be led by Miguel Enrique Otero of El Nacional – Venezuela together with Maria Catalina Saieh of La Tercera – Chile who I ask to dedicate all their knowledge, prestige, ideas and imagination to find new sources of financing for our projects and programs. We will also face the updating and upgrading of our statutes, which becomes very necessary and for which we have asked Gonzalo Zegarra of Semana Económica –Peru to chair the Legal Affairs Commission, where they will be accompanied by Armando Gonzalez of La Nación - Costa Rica and Raul Kraiselburd of El Día -Argentina whose contributions, you will agree, are very transcendent. We will reinforce the Commission for New Members, whose co-presidents Ed McCullough of Agency AP- United States, Marcelo Rech of RBS – Brazil and Felipe Edwards of El Mercurio – Chile will be entrusted with the task of establishing a program to increase the membership, even with associated goals. You will have to work hard, my friends! I invite Roberto Pombo of El Tiempo-Colombia to the presidency and Hugo Hollman of La Prensa-Nicaragua to the vice-presidency of the Finance Commission. I invite Fernán Saguier of La Nación-Argentina to preside over the Commission of International Affairs and Lourdes de Abaldia of  La Prensa de Panama to the vice-presidency of the said commission. I invite Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz of El Universal-México to continue leading the Commission of Impunity and Marco Zileri of Caretas-Peru to the vice-presidency of the said commission. I invite Marcela Noble of Clarín-Argentina to preside over the Awards Commission. I invite José Roberto Dutriz of La Prensa Gráfica-El Salvador to continue chairing the important Commission of Chapultepec. And I extend this invitation to Gilberto Urdaneta of El Regional del Zulia- Venezuela to preside over the commission to find future locations. Let’s give them a warm round of applause. Last but not least, as you know the concentration of the media in public and private monopolies and oligopolies is subject to debate in our associations and of course in our institution. I am sure that after a deep reflection of its members IAPA will leave its imprint in connection with the huge challenge raised by history in this matter. Special Thanks I am an engineer by profession; after the death of my father who fought for many years I assumed the leadership of the newspaper and after 12 long years in it I'm a journalist by conviction. The executives and colleagues who welcomed me and supported me, namely Pepe Samanez and Carlos Castro, from which I learnt the noble profession of journalism and the young journalists of our online edition, who, led by Eduardo Solis show us the world that opens up before our eyes, I want to express my appreciation and thanks. I send a big Republican hug at this point which stresses the role and the importance of our beloved newspaper La República. I share with my brothers and sisters Stella, Gerardo, Carlos, and particularly with Maria Eugenia and Helena who came to this meeting, the joy and the commitment of this occasion; also I send a warm greeting to our mother Ramona, whom I like to send thousand kisses and blessings. My beloved wife Jacquie, fundamental and generous support in this journey; my children Gustavo, Vanessa, Daniella and Diego who are also here and my grandchildren Gonzalo and Doménica who could not come I would like to send them a big hug to embrace the joy of this moment with the apologies for the little time I will have to share with you, as I would want to I would like to tribute two men who inspired my life, who are and will be my guides in this honorable task.  One is Enrique Zileri who left us two months ago after 83 years of full trajectory of civic, professional and personal virtue. A special tribute to my father, my guide through the difficult times and harsh situations; no doubt my reference today.  Gustavo Mohme Llona was skeptical about the role of IAPA, which he linked more to a businessmen association. The years I have been in this institution show that the principles and not the interests rule this institution. I share with daddy Mohme the pride I am sure we both feel right now. But above all, I would like to thank you colleagues for coming to every assembly to share the joy of victories and to instill bravery and optimism in the defeats, but mostly to renew our free spirit. I commit to keep the flags of our institution high up, this institution I joined more than 20 years ago and which has granted me the most distinguished credential a journalist could be awarded. Thank you very much!