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Uruguay: Claudio Paolillo was "one of the most powerful and lucid voices" for press freedom in Americas

The chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information of the IAPA, Uruguayan Claudio Paolillo, answers questions during a press conference in Guatemala City, 21 February 2014
The chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information of the IAPA, Uruguayan Claudio Paolillo, answers questions during a press conference in Guatemala City, 21 February 2014

JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on en.sipiapa.org on 19 January 2018.

With deep regret and recognition of his legacy the IAPA reports on the death of one of its principal leaders and also one of the most distinguished Latin American journalists of his generation.

Uruguayan journalist Claudio Paolillo, former chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), died today in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the age of 57.

The news immediately shocked the press circles in Uruguay and in several countries of the region in which Paolillo was known for his leadership in the IAPA battles in favor of press freedom and freedom of expression.

From 2010 to 2016 he was editor of the weekly newspaper Búsqueda, a role previously occupied by IAPA former president Danilo Arbilla.

"I can assure that in the press of the hemisphere there is felt a great anguish at the death of Claudio, a great fighter for press freedom who in recent years faced with bravery a serious illness," mourned IAPA President Gustavo Mohme.

Paolillo worked in the press as a reporter, newsman, feature writer, assistant news editor, news editor and editor of Búsqueda. By his own merit he rose through all the ranks of the profession. He was also a university professor and author and, as a young man, was midfielder of the soccer team Racing Club of Montevideo.

"We will remember with special esteem for Claudio his delivery and bravery in the defense of freedom of the press. He was a master in denunciating without reservation and with great judgment the violations of those regimes in power," declared Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República.

In July 2017 Paolillo was awarded by the Association of Argentine News Entities (Adepa) its Honorary Prize in recognition of his outstanding services to press freedom. Adepa declared in the award presentation ceremony in Montevideo that in his essential role in the IAPA Paolillo "helped raise awareness of the biggest abuses of freedom of expression throughout the Americas, in particular in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba."

"We Argentines were witnesses of the manner in which on many occasions his presence helped contain the attacks suffered by the press in our country and in other scenarios of the Americas," Adepa noted.

On accepting the award Paolillo declared that "when freedom of expression is attacked, what is being attacked is the human nature itself."

Paolillo was born on August 20, 1960 in Montevideo. Since 2010 he was Busqueda's academic and journalistic advisor. He also gave classes in journalism at the ORT Uruguay University and at the Catholic University of Uruguay. Up to 2017 he served as chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information. He was a columnist in various local and international media, the author of books titled "Con los días contados" (With the Days Counted) (2002) and "La cacería del caballero" (The Hunting of the Gentleman) (2004). In 2004 he received the Morosoli award and in 2006 the Bartolomé Hidalgo and National Literature prizes.

He is survived by his wife, Adriana Otegui Destri, and his children, Santiago, Tatiana and Juan Manuel.

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