Acceptance speech of Gustavo Mohme - IAPA President


Acceptance speech of Gustavo Mohme Seminario, Grupo La República, Lima, Peru, of IAPA Presidency 2017-2018

Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, October 30, 2017

A very good evening to all.

It is for me, my family and my company a surprise to return to you to speak from this podium. I felt myself up to yesterday to be a happy IAPA retiree and here I am, on your mandate, again assuming this honorable post.

A well-known waltz by Julio Jaramillo in our country titled Desdén says: "every repetition is an offense" so I will have to redouble my efforts so as not to keep in step with that melody, especially considering that re-election has been throughout the more than 80 years of life of the IAPA only a cause of judgment when not of a joke.

I would like firstly to highlight the role of Juan Luis Correa, a partner and friend who has worked practically without non-attendance and with an unusual generosity towards our cause during 28 continuous years. Thanks to his leadership we were three times in Panama holding our membership meetings. He has been chairman of the Executive Committee and several other committees during these years.

Juan Luis, proposed for this role, declined the nomination until the questionings that affect other people around him disappeared. This notable gesture inspires me and commits me to face this re-election. Our institution and you, Juan Luis, emerge strengthened by this situation. I shall be in charge of orientating this strength in our fundamental task of the defense of freedom of the press in the Americas.

I thus call upon each one of you to dedicate your strength and knowledge to continue fighting together for those who have no voice and to defend press freedom in our continent. You well know that the strength of our institution does not depend only on the leadership, but rather on the delivery of each one of you.

So unexpected and so fast was this request to assume the Presidency that I beg your understanding in order to establish my work strategy in just a few days, but I foresee that together with Jorge Canahuati in the chairmanship of the Executive Committee our mission will be entirely productive.

Of course I shall give continuity to the projects that Matt Sanders headed so effectively and I will put into practice the valuable conclusions of the strategic plan that María Elvira Domínguez, our first vice president, with the important contribution of various members, presented at our last Executive Committee meeting.

Three years ago, when I assumed this role for the first time, financial difficulties threatened our normal functioning, it was imperative to take drastic decisions, so with the valuable support of the newly-appointed executive director, Ricardo Trotti, we began to work.

We sold our old headquarters, the deficit that it generated for us and even more the time that its maintenance demanded of our executives made that decision necessary. After a long and severe process that took almost a year it was achieved to do it under optimal conditions.

Today I tell you enthusiastically and happily that the subsequent presidencies of Pierre Manigault and Matt Sanders with the important contribution of Jorge Canahuati have ended up consolidating our institution, our shares have thus reached record highs and our restructured organization, made up of few but effective executives to whom I extend my greetings, is today self-sustainable.

It is therefore the time to concentrate efforts in our mission of defending press freedom in the Americas. I congratulate here the 20 new directors that have incorporated, to them and to the other 40 I ask for their help and contribution for this noble mission.

It is at this time that press freedom deserves our greatest attention, due to the political crises that still accompany us, the violence of organized crime, the corruption of public officials and those that seek to dishearten the public with the renewed rhetoric of false news. It is more necessary than ever to have a strong IAPA, with a massive, active, supportive and united membership.

It is at difficult times that the IAPA knew how to fight its best battles. Today the dictators continue to lurk in both Venezuela and Cuba. But neither should we allow ourselves to be fooled by those that use subtle weapons to continue attacking journalists and media. We should continue calling for protective measures for journalists and demand justice to local and international bodies. I count on you, Roberto Rock, from the chairmanship of the of the Press Freedom Committee, at this stage.

I repeat that it is important that our membership be proactive, that our press freedom vice chairmen be very active. Today we are 981 members with the ones we have approved this morning, but I wish for that number to constantly increase.

I will attend to the request of our General Assembly and soon we will be in Quito and in Washington to promote press freedom. But also we will do so in Colombia and in Argentina and in some countries of the English-speaking Caribbean that are calling for our presence, and to those that we will go to holding hands with the second vice president, my colleague Chris Barnes, whom I congratulate for his great distinction, a pride for all in the Caribbean, as was Oliver Clarke.

You all also know that we are in the process of revising the by-laws and I hope that in the coming months the respective sub-committee will give fruit. I hope that soon we can have new lineaments for the IAPA governance to be diverse, plural, representative and we can take better decisions in all aspects.

We will have to be creative. Although we must maintain transparency and filters of affiliation, we will have to have more rapid processes in identifying those media and persons that we would believe can help use to create a more proactive and present IAPA. Any traditional or new media should feel the obligation to belong to our institution.

And when I say be creative it is that we should think even of the possibility of reducing membership fees for those media overwhelmed by economic and political crises, and also for them to attend our assemblies and meetings.

We will sit down with Google and other technological companies to see in what best ways we can contribute to our industry as they are doing in other parts of the world. We want to experiment with projects that we have underway without fear of trying and see which projects work.

I thank Matt for the leadership this year and I ask him to think about not ceasing to work in the IAPA, as he can receive the prize or the punishment, it depends on how we see it, that he been chosen as president again.

I will devote my best efforts to the service of the IAPA and our cause, and like the first time I will do so with the strength that gives me the memory of my dear father, Gustavo Mohme Llona, the company and understanding of my dear wife Jacqueline, of my six children, of my beloved mother Ramona and of my brothers and sisters. To each of my companions of the Grupo La República I ask for license, because again I will have to give time and effort to this new responsibility that I am assuming with deep humility and commitment.

I am grateful for the confidence that you have placed in me, dear fellow members. To our past presidents, to Jorge Canahuati, to Ricardo Trotti, to our directors and committee chairmen and to our officials, to all of you I call upon you to accompany me in the task, the 150 journalists murdered in the past 10 years ask us to do so, and a countless number of journalists threatened for practicing this noble profession demand it of us.

Let's get to work then!

Many thanks.