Two Venezuelan journalists who uncovered irregularities in the investigation of the Danilo Anderson case share first prize of US $25,000
Journalists from La Nación (Costa Rica) and El Imparcial, (Mexico) were tied for a second prize of US $5,000 each
Berlin / Lima 23 June, 2006 -Articles revealing the concealment of evidence in the murder investigation of Venezuelan state prosecutor Danilo Anderson won first prize in the yearly Latin American Prize for the Best Investigative Journalism Report on Corruption. The prize, which aims to recognise the efforts and courage of journalists that investigate corruption in Latin America, is awarded by the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) together with Transparency International’s network in Latin America and the Caribbean (TILAC). The award, for US $25,000, is sponsored by the Open Society Institute (OSI). The winners were selected by an international jury of prestigious journalists who assessed investigative stories on corruption published in Latin America during 2005.
Tamoa Calzadilla and Laura Weffer, won first prize for their findings exposing irregularities in the investigation of the Anderson murder case. Their articles, published in Últimas Noticias and El Nacional newspapers respectively, presented previously unknown incidences of Anderson’s actions that were later ignored during the investigation. Both reporters examined actions by the Public Ministry after the assassination of Danilo Anderson who was the victim of a car bomb at the end of 2004. Anderson, who was a state prosecutor during that time, was in charge of identifying those responsible of a failed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
According to the international jury, Tamoa Calzadilla revealed episodes in regards to Anderson’s conduct that were relevant to establish the motive of his assassination, based on testimonies that were later ignored during the murder investigation. Laura Weffer uncovered indisputable information showing how unsuitable the prosecutor’s main witness was for bringing accusations against the alleged participants of a political conspiracy to murder Anderson.
Now in its fourth edition, the Latin American Prize for the Best Investigative Journalism Report on Corruption received 139 entries from journalists in 17 Latin American countries. The jury was made up of: Marcelo Beraba, Ombudsman, Folha de S. Paulo; Gustavo Gorriti, columnist, Caretas magazine, Michael Reid, Latin America Editor, The Economist; Gerardo Reyes reporter and columnist, El Nuevo Herald and Tina Rosenberg, editorial writer at The New York Times.
Two investigative stories from Mexico and Costa Rica were selected for a second prize of US $5,000 each. Jorge Morales, from the Mexican daily El Imparcial, obtained documents and testimonials that proved a self-assigned loan of 350,000 Mexican pesos (US $30,700) by deputy members of the Sonora Congress, who later on attempted make the state responsible for the debt.
The second investigation that exposed corruption was carried out by Giannina Segnini, Ernesto Rivera and Mauricio Herrera, from Costa Rica’s La Nación newspaper. The team of reporters showed that the Canadian firm EBI paid commissions to San Jose’s mayor in order to be awarded the operation of the city’s waste disposal system.
The jury also made special mention of efforts made by the Brazilian press during 2005 to research and continuously denounce corruption cases within the judiciary and executive powers as well as political financing. The jury stated that two important finalist reports crucial for setting off the ongoing corruption investigations in the country were: “The key man of the PTB”, by Policarpo Junior, of Veja magazine; and “Interview with Jefferson”, by Renata Lo Prete, from the daily Folha de S. Paulo.
The Latin American Prize for the Best Investigative Journalism Report on Corruption 2005 will be awarded by Instituto Prensa y Sociedad and Transparency International for Latin America and the Caribbean at a ceremony during the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference to be held in Guatemala from 15 to 18 November, 2006.
Investigative stories from six other countries were also considered finalists and received a special mention from the jury.
List of Winners:
First Prize of US $25,000
Tamoa Calzadilla and Laura Weffer, won first prize for their findings exposing irregularities in the investigation of the murder case of Venezuelan state prosecutor Danilo Anderson. Their stories, published in Últimas Noticias and El Nacional newspapers respectively. Both reporters examined actions by the Public Ministry after the assassination of Danilo Anderson who was the victim of a car bomb at the end of 2004. Anderson, who was a state prosecutor during that time, was in charge of identifying those responsible of a failed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
Second Prize (2) of US $5,000 each
Two investigative stories from Mexico and Costa Rica were selected for a second prize of US $5,000 each. Jorge Morales, from the Mexican daily El Imparcial, exposed members of congress who sought to make the state responsible for their own loan.
The second investigation that exposed corruption was carried out by Giannina Segnini, Ernesto Rivera and Mauricio Herrera, from Costa Rica’s La Nación newspaper, who showed that a mayor received commissions for awarding a contract to a waste disposal firm.
“Los Incorregibles” (The Un-correctable), by the production team of Telenoche Investiga, Channel 13, which showed for the second consecutive year, the manipulation and blackmail that political leaders wield over the indigenous province of Formosa to obtain votes in their favour during elections.
Brazil“El hombre clave del PTB” (The Worker’s Party key man), by Policarpo Junior of Veja magazine, that revealed bribes charged by Mauricio Marinho, director of the Post Office, to supplier firms.
“Entrevista a Jefferson” (Interview with Jefferson), by Renata Lo Prete, from Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, which revealed monthly payments made to members of parliament allied to President Lula’s Worker’s Party, in order to guarantee their support of the government.
“Corrupción en Rondonia” (Corruption in Rondonia), by Eduardo Faustini, from TV Globo, which showed how Governor Ivo Cassol was blackmailed by members of the Legislative Assembly of the state of Rondonia, who demanded a monthly payment of US $20,000 in exchange for their support.
Ecuador“Venta de armas de Chile a Ecuador” (Chile’s arms sales to Ecuador), from Arturo Torres and Dimitri Barreto, published in El Comercio newspaper (Quito, Ecuador) which reveals the illegal purchase of arms by the Ecuadorian army from Chile and Argentina during the Cenepa War of 1995.
El Salvador“Empresa de Ministro de Turismo gana licitación” (Tourism minister’s company wins bidding process), from Rafael García, of La Prensa Gráfica newspaper that revealed the illegal participation of an enterprise of Luis Cardenal, Minister of Tourism, in business with the State.
Colombia“Chance: Paras doblan sus apuestas” (Chance: Paramilitaries double their bets), consists of research done by 17 Colombian publications: El Colombiano, El Heraldo, Hoy Diario del Magdalena, El Liberal, El Nuevo Día, La Opinión, El País de Cali, La Patria, La República, La Tarde, El Tiempo, El Universal y Vanguardia Liberal, El Espectador, Semana y Cambio, and Colprensa; which discovered the incursion of paramilitaries in the “chance” business, a popular betting model developed by bribing members of public institutions, intimidation and murder.
Paraguay“Proselitismo encubierto con dinero de Itaipú” (Proselytism concealed with money from Itaipú) by Jorge Torres, from Última Hora newspaper, that revealed the use of funds from the bi-national hydroelectric plant of Itaipú for the re-election of President Nicanor Duarte.
Past winners of the Investigative Journalism Award for Best Reporting on Corruption Cases awarded by IPYS and TILAC, include: Jorge Loáisiga, from La Prensa of Nicaragua (2002); Arturo Torres, Dimitri Barreto Jean Paúl Cano and Christian Torres of El Comercio from Ecuador (2003); and Giannina Segnini, Ernesto Rivera y Mauricio Herrera, of La Nación from Costa Rica.