A Statement From the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes Board

May 13, 2024

As we gather at Columbia University to select this year’s winners of the oldest international journalism prize in the world and discuss press freedom in the Western Hemisphere, the board of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize condemns the criminalization of independent journalism in Latin America. In particular, we want to draw attention to the persecution of Gustavo Gorriti of Peru, José Rubén Zamora of Guatemala, past recipients of the Maria Moors Cabot Gold Medal, and the team of the Venezuelan investigative journalism organization Armando.info, recipient of a Cabot Special Citation

Gorriti, one of this board’s former members (2014 – 2022), is the target of a smear campaign and a criminal investigation in Peru. His crime? To practice independent, public interest investigative journalism, exposing corrupt politicians. These same politicians are now making unfounded accusations and demanding that Gorriti reveal his sources, with the implicit threat of imprisonment if he does not. The Peruvian State should not allow its judicial system to be used against independent, investigative journalism.

Meanwhile, Zamora has been in prison for almost two years in Guatemala in a case that international human rights and press freedom organizations have condemned as revenge for reporting on government corruption.

And in Venezuela, the Attorney General has just announced a clumsy, nonsensical investigation that accuses the team of Armando.info of involvement with a businessman that the journalists have denounced for corruption. The announcement comes days before PBS’s Frontline will air a documentary co-produced by Armando.info on corruption and the cost of independent journalism in Venezuela.

This board stands in solidarity with our medalists. Journalism is not a crime.