Co-author of Uruguay dictatorship crimes in XIV Premio Nacional de Periodismo jury

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Danilo Arbilla, who shut down media and had journalists arrested, tortured and disappeared for the Uruguayan dictatorship, now leads a "press freedom" jury in Panama

Today La Estrella ran a full page ad on page 12A presenting the jury for the 14th National Journalism Awards. And to our big surprise, on top of the list features one Danilo Arbilla. And this, dear reader, is a shame.

Who is Arbilla? He was in charge of suppressing free press during the bloody Uruguayan dictatorship between 1973 and 1985, of which he was a member. In that capacity, he co-authored a long list of crimes committed against the media, journalists and opinion leaders. Under Arbilla's reign the director of magazine "Marcha", Julio Castro, was assassinated. Dozens of journalists and writers were kidnapped and tortured, such as Carlos Quijano, Carlos Borche, Santiago Puchet and poet Juan Carlos Onetti. Arbilla was also responsible for decrees that made it illegal to opine that the government was a dictatorship or to publish anything that could "disturb public order and tranquility".

That guy is now in the jury of journalism awards in Panama? Yes, he is. This guy. When he became president of the Inter American Press Organization, an extreme right-wing club that consistently supports military coup d'etats in our América, a number of Uruguayan newspapers with better memories and ethics than their Panamanian counterparts resigned from that club in protest.

That Danilo Arbilla. A declared enemy of the free press. A dictatorship criminal. He was responsible for closing down more newspapers than Panama ever had: La Gaceta de San Ramón (Canelones), Ultima Hora, La Mañana, Ahora, Crónica, El Popular y Acción, Marcha, Idealismo, El Faro de Sauce, Ahora, Mensajero, Valdense, 9 de Febrero, Víspera, Darbas, La Idea Nueva, Civismo, Perspectiva.

This man was in charge of the media and guess what? Journalist Edmundo Rovira was arrested and died in jail. Norma Cedrés was arrested and died in jail.

Welcome to Panama, Mr. Arbilla. Is that blood drooling from your mouth? It must hurt to talk about "press freedom" and "freedom of information" after all, with a track record of murder, torture, repression and media shutdowns.

So who for Christ's sake selected this piece of shit for a jury for journalism awards in Panama?

Never mind. Shame on you, whoever you are. Shame on any journalist who visits the ceremony or worse, accepts an award from this man with blood on his hands.

And shame on the sponsors of this press freedom fraud: Cable & Wireless, HSBC, CEMEX, Copa Airlines, Hotel El Panama, Grupo Melo, Odebrecht, Burson Marsteller, Cerveceria Nacional and Grupo Mundial.

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