Enrique Zileri, stalwart publisher in Peru, dies at 83


Foto: El Comercio / AP.

Foto: El Comercio / AP.

By Douglas Martin*.- Enrique Zileri, the former publisher of Peru’s leading newsmagazine, which he called “a symbol of resistance” against censors and dictators and which brought him international honors and deportations by his own government, died on Monday in Lima. He was 83.

Ana Jara, Peru’s prime minister, announced the death. Peruvian newspapers, quoting Mr. Zileri’s daughter Drusila, said the cause was complications of throat cancer.

In a statement, the writer Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel laureate in literature, called Mr. Zileri an “indefatigable defender of freedom and democracy” who “could never be bribed or intimidated.”

Mr. Zileri’s magazine, Caretas (Masks, in English), was started by his mother, Doris Gibson, and Francisco Igartua in October 1950. By the end of that year it had already been briefly shut down by the dictator Manuel A. Odria, who said it had offended him.

Mr. Zileri joined the magazine full time in the mid-1950s after returning from Europe, where he had been traveling and writing travel articles for Caretas. Mr. Igartua departed in 1962 to start Hey, a political weekly magazine that found wide popularity in Peru.

Mr. Zileri and his mother, as the magazine’s co-directors, provided readers with in-depth news — in one instance it investigated how much Peru paid for oil properties it had nationalized — and incisive opinion, suggesting, for example, that advisers to Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado, Peru’s military dictator, were sycophants.

After a stream of such articles, readership increased, as did government scrutiny. “Caretas has now become a symbol of resistance,” Mr. Zileri said in an interview with The New York Times.

The government agreed. It shut down Caretas six times from 1968 to 1977, once for nearly two years, and twice deported Mr. Zileri, to Portugal and to Argentina. He received a three-year jail sentence on charges of damaging “the honor and reputation” of high government officials, but was later granted amnesty.

The government closed the magazine again in 1979, this time for five months. Ms. Gibson retired in the early 1990s, having gradually ceded responsibilities to her son.

Mr. Zileri’s sparring with the government only accelerated during the authoritarian presidency of Alberto Fujimori, from 1990 to 2000. In 1992, Mr. Zileri was fined $7,500 on charges of defaming Mr. Fujimori’s intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, when Caretas portrayed him as a “Rasputin” who exercised sinister power behind the scenes.

Another time, on one of its many provocative covers, Caretas depicted Mr. Fujimori’s head hovering over a toilet with the caption, “Flush.”

Enrique Zileri Gibson was born in Lima on June 4, 1931, to Ms. Gibson and Manlio Zileri Larco Aurelio. He had tuberculosis as a child, and attended boarding schools. He studied at Cornell University until family funds ran out, forcing him to leave before he could graduate. He later worked as a publicist and traveled in Europe in what he described as a voyage of self-discovery while contributing travel articles to Caretas.

Mr. Zileri was president of the International Press Institute, a global organization dedicated to freedom of the press and improving the practice of journalism. In 1975 he was awarded the Maria Moors Cabot Award by Columbia University for excellence in coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean. He later served as a judge for the awards.

Mr. Zileri was married for 51 years to the former Daphne Dougall, a native Argentine of Scottish descent who became a distinguished photographer. Besides Drusila, they had four other children, Diana, Domenica, Sebastian and Marco, who has led Caretas over the last decade, and a number of grandchildren. Complete information on survivors was unavailable.

Mr. Zileri saw a satisfactory conclusion to his clashes with Mr. Fujimori when the president, caught up in corruption scandals, was forced from office in November 2000, ultimately to be tried on charges of human rights abuses and convicted. Mr. Zileri had predicted his downfall in an interview with The Times published a month earlier.

“In the past, Fujimori was always able to defy the laws of political physics, but this time there is just no way,” he said. “All that is left is the process of disintegration.”

He was less prescient about the president in 1995. Mr. Zileri was so sure that Mr. Fujimori would be defeated in the first round of a presidential election that year that he announced that he and a group of his journalists would swim in the fountain outside the presidential palace if Mr. Fujimori won. Mr. Fujimori did win a second term, in a landslide, but when the journalists showed up, there was no water in the fountain.

Mr. Zileri ordered a tanker truck of water.

*Originally published in The New York Times.

Publicado el viernes 29 de agosto, 2014 a las 17:49 | RSS 2.0.

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