Silencing Dissent: The Assault on Free Speech in Latin America by Noriega, Hirst,Cuesta,Coleman, Pérez

Silencing Dissent: The Assault on Free Speech in Latin America
Thursday, February 09, 2012 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

You can see the video at :

Over the last several years, freedom of expression has been under attack by governments in Latin America, including Ecuador and Venezuela. As part of their populist platform, these regimes have waged systematic campaigns against the independence of their countries’ media, including implicit and explicit threats against journalists, publishers and media company owners. In their attempts to silence any criticism of their political agendas, these Latin American leaders have engaged in what the New York Times has called “an assault on democracy.” Please join us for a timely panel discussion on the state of freedom of expression in the Americas.


MILTON COLEMAN, Inter-American Press Association and Washington Post
RAFAEL CUESTA, Canal Uno (Guayaquil)
JOEL HIRST, George W. Bush Institute
Nicolás Pérez, El Universo (Guayaquil)


Milton Coleman is the senior editor of The Washington Post and the current president of the Inter American Press Association. He joined The Washington Post in 1976 and was promoted to deputy managing editor in 1996. Mr. Coleman became president of the American Society of News Editors in April 2010, and he has served as a member of a nominating committee for the Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, a judge for the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and National Association of Black Journalists and Asian American Journalist Association awards, and a judging committee chairman of the Seldon Ring Award for Investigative Reporting.

Rafael Cuesta is the news vice president of Channel ONE. He started his career as news reporter in TV media to become news director and vice president of the largest television stations in Ecuador. Because of his comments during the coup of January, 2000, he was the victim of an assassination attempt with a cassette bomb that exploded in his hands. Mr. Cuesta has also been Consul of Ecuador in Genoa, Italy, and a congressman representing his native province.

Joel D. Hirst is a Human Freedom Fellow at the George W. Bush Institute. Previously, Mr. Hirst received the International Affairs Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations. He worked with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiative (OTI) and for two years for OTI in Uganda. Before this, he worked as a humanitarian relief worker with World Vision. He has written chapters for books by the International Republican Institute and the University of Miami, as well as many articles for Americas Quarterly, Fox News, International Business and Development Exchange, The Commentator, and El Universal. He blogs for Huffington Post.

Roger F. Noriega is a visiting fellow at AEI and the founder and managing director of Visión Américas LLC, which advises U.S. and foreign clients on international business issues. He served as the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and as the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States. Ambassador Noriega currently serves as vice chairman of the board of directors of the Congressional Award Foundation and as a member of the advisory boards of the Canadian American Border Trade Partnership and the Americano, an online forum reaching out to Latino voters.

Nicolás Pérez is co-owner and co-director of Ecuador’s El Universo newspaper, the country’s largest independent newspaper. In recent years, El Universo has investigated and exposed official corruption in Ecuador. Since 2011, El Universo has been fighting a criminal libel suit filed against the paper by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who disagreed with an opinion column the newspaper printed criticizing his response to the 2010 police protests. Despite a pending final appeal amidst substantial judicial interference, Mr. Pérez continues to fight corruption at the risk of facing three years in prison.