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The winners of the Latin American Investigative Journalism Award 2012-2013

Jury members María O’Donell (Argentina), Marcelo Beraba (Brazil), Gerardo Reyes (United States), Juan Luis Font (Guatemala) and Gustavo Gorriti (Peru) met for two days in Rio de Janeiro to select the best investigative journalism entries submitted for the 11th Latin American Investigative Journalism Award 2012-2013, organised by Transparency International and Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (Press and Society Institute, IPYS).

177 entries published in the press, on the radio, television and online media were submitted. Among the thirty shortlisted finalists, the jury granted honourable mentions to ten research works of outstanding quality and awarded prizes to three winners.

The first prize was given to A secret deal between the government and the Mara Salvatrucha-13 and Barrio 18 gangs (El pacto secreto del gobierno con las pandillas Mara Salvatrucha-13 y Barrio 18). The piece was authored by Óscar Martínez, José Luis Sanz, Efrén Lemus, Roberto Valencia, Sergio Aráuz and Carlos Martínez, from El Faro, El Salvador.

In this unprecedented and insightful journalistic research project, the team from El Faro documented a secret deal between the government of El Salvador and gang leaders. The deal involved a commitment to reduce violence in the country in return for the transfer of approximately thirty gang leaders from maximum security prisons to less secure facilities, in spite of their extensive criminal history. The team received a $15,000 prize.

Second place was awarded to the journalistic series Police above the law (Policía fuera de la ley) by journalists Mauri König, Albari Rosa, Diego Ribeiro, and Felippe Aníbal, from the Gazeta do Povo newspaper in Brazil. The team revealed the diversion of $2.5 million intended for police stations in the Paraná state between 2004 and 2011. Their bold and persistent reporting documented the systematic misuse of official vehicles assigned to this force. They were awarded a $10,000 prize.

Third prize went to a reporting series entitled The shoemaker's son always goes barefoot (En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo) by journalists Ernesto Rivera and Giannina Segnini, from the La Nación newspaper in Costa Rica. In the context of a tax reform, this reporting series used consistent data-mining work to prove, among other shocking revelations, that 11 of the 22 Cabinet members of Costa Rica, including the Finance Minister, understated the value of property by $22 million in order to pay less tax. After being questioned by the journalists, seven ministers rushed to raise the value of their assets. The journalists were awarded a $5,000 prize.

The runners-up are:


- The money-making machine (La máquina de hacer billetes). Hugo Alconada, from La Nación newspaper.


- Money Factory (Fábrica de dinero). José Ernesto Credendio and Andreza Mattais, from Folha de Sau Paulo.

- Public competition mafia (Mafia de concursos públicos). By a team made up of Giovani Grizotti, Renato Nogueira, Alexandre Tandy, Giancarlo Barzi, Marcelo Theil, and Halex Vieira, from the Fantástico television programme broadcast on RBSTV/TV Globo.


- Profit making in Chilean universities (Cómo opera el lucro en las universidades Chilenas). By Juan Andrés Guzmán, Juan Pablo Figueroa and Gregorio Riquelme, from CIPER.


- The land theft route (La ruta del despojo). Gina Morelo, from El Meridiano.

- Land disputes in Urabá, the eastern plains and Ovejas (Las luchas por la tierra en Urabá, llanos orientales y Ovejas). By a journalistic team including María Teresa Ronderos, Ivonne Rodríguez, Oscar Parra, Andrés Gerardo García Castiblanco, Juan Diego Restrepo, Ricardo León, Elizabeth Reyes, Tatiana Navarrete, and Felipe Quintero, from Verdad Abierta.

- The coltan fever (La fiebre del coltan). By Ignacio Gómez, from Noticias Uno, in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.


- The tax benefits of the presidential family (Los privilegios fiscales de la familia presidencial). Moisés Martínez, from La Prensa newspaper.


- Living the great life in London, at the expense of pensioners (La gran vida en Londres a costa de jubilados). Mabel Rehnfeldt, from the newspaper ABC Color.


- Illegal gold routes, from Madre de Dios to Switzerland (De Madre de Dios a Suiza, los senderos del oro ilegal). Oscar Castilla, El Comercio newspaper.

The jury would like to acknowledge in particular the outstanding work of Hugo Alconada, from the Argentinean newspaper La Nación, for his journalistic tenacity in uncovering the political and corporate web behind the tax haven operations of the Argentine company responsible for printing currency, and revealing it to have links to the country's Vice-President.

The jury would also like to highlight the work of reporter Gina Morelo, from El Meridiano, and the team from Verdad Abierta, for their research on conflicts surrounding the land restitution programme of the Colombian government. It documented unimaginable injustices in the restitution of millions of hectares to victims of violence in the country.

In addition, the jury congratulates Ignacio Gómez, from the Colombian network Noticias Uno, for his excellent television reporting work. The project successfully established the trafficking route of tungsten, a valuable chemical element, from a mine in a natural reserve exploited by the guerrillas in the jungle to Europe, where it was imported by a company providing raw materials used in manufacturing plane turbines.

Finally, the jury also recognizes the team at Ciper for investigating the shady business dealings behind university education in Chile, which evidences the need to investigate private sector corruption in the region.


Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

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Transparency International
Natalie Baharav
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Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
Christopher Acosta
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