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IAPA to hold 56th General Assembly in Santiago, Chile

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 6 October 2000 IAPA press release:


More than 500 media representatives to examine press freedom violations in the Americas

MIAMI, Florida (Oct. 6) - More than 500 editors and publishers from throughout the Western Hemisphere will discuss the major issues curtailing press freedom in the Americas in the past six months at the 56th General Assembly of the Inter American Press Association in Santiago, Chile, from October 13 to 18.

Legislation restricting free speech and freedom of the press, such as insult laws, discrimination in providing information to reporters and placing official advertising in the news media, and the fact that those who kill reporters are literally getting away with murder are among the meeting's featured topics. It will also focus on the political unrest and the plight of the press in Peru and in Paraguay, the official harassment of attempts at a free press in Cuba, and violence in Colombia.

The five-day assembly at the Sheraton Santiago & San Cristobal Tower in the Chilean capital will be officially opened by Chile's President Ricardo Lagos, together with his counterparts from Argentina, Fernando de la Rúa, and Uruguay, Jorge Batlle. They are expected to raise the issue of freedom of expression and the strengthening of democracy and the economies of their South American countries.

This will be the fourth time that the IAPA, a free-press organization representing more than 1,300 newspapers, magazines and news agencies in the Western Hemisphere, will hold its annual assembly in Chile. The previous such meetings were in 1962, 1972 and 1987.

Delegates will have an opportunity to hear presentations by two major figures of Latin American literature - Chilean Jorge Edwards, winner of this year's prestigious Cervantes Prize, and best-selling author Paulo Coelho of Brazil.

International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Eduardo Aninat will address the assembly on "The Opportunities and Challenges in Globalization for Latin America" and a roundtable discussion with the theme "News Bureaus in Cuba" will explore the Cuban government's discriminatory policy on allowing U.S. media to report out of the island. Panelists will include Alberto Ibargüen, publisher of The Miami Herald, Miami, Florida, whose request to have a bureau in Havana has been repeatedly denied, and Earl Maucker, editor of the Sun-Sentinel, Florida, which was recently granted such permission. Another topical issue to be addressed will be "Insult Laws," whose enactment is seen as an attempt to muzzle the press. This will be the focus of Marilyn Green of the Washington, DC-based World Press Freedom Committee.

The Press Institute, the IAPA's educational section, under the overall title of "New Business for a New Millennium", will present five seminars on such topics as the training of journalists, how to increase newspaper readership among women and young people, new trends in free newspapers and recent developments in reader surveys. The seminars, to which local journalism school students and teachers have been invited, will be conducted by leading specialists from Europe, the United States and Latin America. Among the speakers will be Michael Smith from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, Carlos Soria from Navarra University in Spain, Norwegian consultant Norvall Skreien and Fernando Leñero from Costa Rica.

As is customary at IAPA General Assemblies, time will also be set aside to recognize excellence in journalism. The Association's Grand Prize for Press Freedom this year is to be presented to "The press of Colombia, for its honorable and courageous role during the violence, intimidation and overall crisis their country is currently undergoing."

In addition to the recognition of the Colombian media, other awards are to be presented for coverage of and support of human rights, inter-American relations, newspaper in education programs, comment, news photography, spot news, feature and in-depth coverage, and other categories. The award winners are newspapers and individual journalists in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, United States and Venezuela.

The Inter American Press Association has its headquarters in the recently inaugurated Jules Dubois Building in Miami, Florida.

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