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$25,000 Award Announced for Best Latin American Journalism Report on Corruption

Award aims to call attention to corrupt practices, promote investigative journalism

Posted: November 30, 2005

Washington -- Two nongovernmental groups, Transparency International and the Press and Society Institute, have announced they will award $25,000 to the Latin American media outlet that publishes the best investigative journalism report on corruption.

In addition, two $5,000 prizes will be awarded for reports "specially worthy of recognition," the two groups said. Articles eligible for the prizes must have been published between January 1 and December 31.

The fourth annual awards are designed to raise awareness about "corrupt dealings in Latin American countries," where high amounts of "dishonest practices have been recorded in the state and private sectors," Transparency International said. In addition, the awards are designed to promote investigative journalism.

Transparency International is part of a global organization based in Berlin devoted to the fight against corruption worldwide. The Press and Society Institute, based in Lima, Peru, is a Latin American group of independent journalists.

A panel of five journalists will convene in May 2006 to decide who wins the prizes. The panel consists of Tina Rosenberg, a 1996 Pulitzer Prize winner and editorial page editor for The New York Times; Michael Reid, Latin American editor of The Economist; Marcelo Beraba, ombudsman of Folha de Sao Paulo in Brazil; Gustavo Gorriti, co-director of the daily La República in Peru; and Gerardo Reyes of El Nuevo Herald in Miami, who was part of an investigative team that won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize.

The deadline for submissions for the award is February 28, 2006. More information about the awards is available on the Transparency International Web site in English and Spanish.

Giannina Segnini, Ernesto Rivera and Mauricio Herrera, from the Costa Rican daily La Nación, won the $25,000 award in 2005. Those journalists wrote a series of reports on illegal payments made by two European companies to former Central American presidents.

Journalists from Brazil's TV Globo and the Brazilian newspaper O Globo were the two runners-up for the prize. (See related article.)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says nothing does more to alienate citizens from their political leaders and institutions and to undermine stability and economic development than endemic corruption.

Adolfo Franco, USAID's assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, says consolidation of democracy cannot be achieved without attacking corruption, which he describes as one of the most fundamental problems that undermines a democratic system.

In a June 7 interview with the U.S. State Department's Washington File, Franco said the fight against corruption is unlikely to be effective without transparency, the rule of law, prosecution of corrupt officials, and access for everyone to a judicial system that is functioning well and can render fair and impartial decisions. (See related article.)

According to the State Department publication, Transparency in Government -- How American Citizens Influence Public Policy, the heart of democratic governance is the ability of ordinary citizens to hold government officials accountable for their actions. The publication is available on the State Department Web site.

For information on U.S. policy in the region, see The Americas.

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer





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