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News note

Iberoamerican Communication Children's Rights Awards

SAN SALVADOR, 7 November 2003 -  Journalists from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, México, Nicaragua and the United States are the winners of the 2003 Iberoamerican Communication Awards for the Rights of Children and Adolescents, an internacional jury announced here today.

The awards are given every two years by UNICEF, the Spanish news agency EFE and the Santillana Foundation for Iberoamerica.  The prizes are given to broadcast and print journalists for outstanding work that raises awareness about the plight of children facing poverty, discrimination and violence in Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

“We were very impressed by the quality of the nearly 800 entries submitted this year from more than 20 countries,” said Miguel Ángel Gozalo, President of the international jury as well as of the EFE news agency.  He added that “it is exciting in this era of superficial entertainment and consumerism to see so many journalists dealing seriously with the most vulnerable members of our societies, our children and young people.”

Former Colombian President Belisario Betancur, who coordinates the jury, sent a message from Spain stating that “by looking into the mirrors of childhood, we are planting the seeds of peace, love, dignity and justice.”

The jury – also composed of Alfredo Missair, UNICEF’s Deputy Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean; Maria Clara Betancur, representantive of the Santillana Foundation and Ricardo García, from UNICEF’s Spanish Nacional Committee – announced winners in the following categories:

The Grand Prize went to two communicators working for the U.S. Spanish-language TV network Univisión: Amalia Torres of Colombia and Mariano García of El Salvador, for their series entitled “Orphans of the Guerrilla War in Colombia”, a dramatic account of the devastating impact of war on children’s lives. This is the first time since the prizes began – in 1998 – that hispanic journalists in the United Status have received the prestigious award. 

The other winners are: 

- Print media: Lucio de Castro for his article “Nos Poroes do Futebol” (The Sewers of Soccer), published in the Jornal O Globo, Brazil –  original investigative journalism uncovering the exploitation of boys seeking careers in the region’s most popular sport, soccer. 

- Radio: Julio Alberto Paz for a series of programs entitled “La basura en los ojos…la esperanza entre los dedos” (Garbage in their eyes…hope in their hands), aired on Radio UTN, Argentina – moving accounts of the lives of children working in garbage dumps in the province of Mendoza, and of a group of young people who volunteer to help them.  

- Television: Heysel del Sagrario Garay for the program “Tan Solo Una Oportunidad” (Just a chance), broadcast by Telenica, Canal 8, Nicaragua – the story of former gang members and a Project empowering them to change their lives, a welcome alternative to repression as a response to violence and crime. 

- Media for children and adolescents: Marta Acevedo and her team, for “Un, dos, tres: por mí y por todos mis compañeros”, a children’s magazine published by    “La Jornada”, México – a high quality magazine with a multi-cultural, educational, human rights approach, produced with the participation of children.
- Photography and design:  Jaime Pérez Munévar, for his photo “Desplazamiento Forzado” (Forced Displacement), published in  “El Colombiano”, Colombia – a moving image of the country’s new “nomads”, hundreds of thousands of children and women displaced from their homes and communities by armed conflict.

The jury also awarded three Special Mentions:

- to “Cienpiés” of México, a longstanding children’s journalism project;
- to the Brazilian newspaper O Povo, for involving its entire staff in an innovative series of articles about young people’s attitudes toward politics;
- to the Diario de Hoy newspaper, El Salvador, for high quality entries in  several categories submitted to the contest. 

Ricardo García of the UNICEF Spanish Nacional Committee stressed the fact that a network of journalists committed to children’s rights is coming together around the awards process, with a real potential to influence public policies and public attitudes.

The winners will receive their awards of  $2,000 to $3,000 in Lima, Peru, on 20 November, at a gala event featuring the Grammy award-winning Peruvian singer Susana Baca, among others.  All winners will also receive a sculpture designed especially for the Iberoamerican Communication Awards by the late Ecuadorian artist, Oswaldo Guayasamín.

Jury member Alfredo Missair of UNICEF commented on the depth and seriousness of the entries submitted this year, noting the many articles, photographs and programs dealing with such priority issues as the poverty and exclusión faced by indigenous children, as well as the growing violence affecting young people in the region.

The jury announced that they have invited ANDI, a Brazilian news agency dealing with media and children’s rights, to become a co-organizer of the awards.  An ANDI study on media coverage of children’s issues will be launched during the awards ceremony in Lima. 

The Iberoamerican Communication Awards on Children’s Rights are sponsored by the Central American airline TACA and the Spanish Fundación Telefónica and its Latin American affiliates.

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For more information contact:

Robert Cohen, UNICEF
Tel. 507- 676 32 16

Carmen Vergara, UNICEF
Tel 503- 887 26 28

Fernando Ruiz, ACAN-EFE
Tel. 507- 269 31 37




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