Gustavo Gorriti: The Fearless Fighter for Justice

Last Updated: June 16, 2024By

Gustavo Gorriti: The Fearless Fighter for Justice

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For over forty years, Gustavo Gorriti has been a nightmare for corrupt officials, always exposing government corruption in Latin America. Recently, he blew the lid off Operation Car Wash, a huge scandal that’s caught almost every Peruvian president of this century.

A Fearless Reporter

Gorriti first became famous reporting on the violent rise of the Shining Path, a Maoist rebel group. During Alberto Fujimori’s 1992 power grab, Gorriti was kidnapped by military intelligence agents after exposing Fujimori’s shady spymaster, Vladimiro Montesinos.

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Facing New Battles

Now, at 76, Gorriti is facing something he’s never dealt with before—a criminal investigation and a massive smear campaign, all while battling aggressive lymphatic cancer. He finished chemotherapy in December, just as fake news about him started spreading like wildfire.

Accusations and Defiance

Prosecutor Alcides Chinchay has demanded Gorriti hand over his phone numbers from 2016 to 2021, claiming he traded “media support” for leaks from Operation Car Wash prosecutors. Gorriti, sitting on his terrace in Lima, defiantly said, “You want my phone number? Half of Lima has it. Enjoy.” But he vowed never to reveal his sources, stating, “I won’t give you anything, not now, not ever, at whatever the cost.”

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Protecting Democracy

Gorriti believes that this isn’t just about him. It’s about defending journalists’ rights in Peru and protecting democracy from the “massive use of lies and intimidation.”

Intimidation Tactics

The campaign against Gorriti includes more than fake news and court cases. Far-right activists, calling themselves La Resistencia, frequently protest outside his home and office, where he runs IDL-Reporteros, an investigative journalism outlet. They’ve thrown bags of excrement, shouted antisemitic insults, and made death threats.

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Political Enemies and False Claims

Gorriti’s political enemies, especially those he’s investigated, have joined the disinformation wave. Jaime Villanueva, a detained former advisor to a suspended attorney general facing corruption charges, has made baseless claims, including that Gorriti celebrated the suicide of former president Alan García, who shot himself when police tried to arrest him in connection with Operation Car Wash.

Once a Hero, Now a Target

Not long ago, Gorriti received standing ovations at public events and hugs on the street for his investigative work. Now, he feels like the country has sunk into a swamp. Lima’s far-right mayor, Rafael López Aliaga, has even called Gorriti the most powerful person in Peru and accused him of ties to George Soros. Gorriti says the legacy media has largely ignored the attacks against him.

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A Broader Battle

For Gorriti, this is a “counterattack by the most sinister and corrupt forces against democracy and plain human honesty.” He believes the timing of the attacks is no coincidence, coming just before the trial of Keiko Fujimori, accused of handling illegal campaign funds. He likens his situation to that of José Zamora, a veteran journalist in Guatemala who was jailed on money-laundering charges.

Journalists Under Siege

Gorriti is not alone. Many journalists in Peru, like Rosa María Palacios and Paola Ugaz (my wife), face harassment and lawsuits for their investigative work. International press freedom organizations have called for the politically motivated investigation against Gorriti to be dropped.

Press Freedom in Decline

Peru has seen the largest drop in press freedom in Latin America, falling 33 places to 110th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index. Studies show state actors, including police and politicians, are the main aggressors against journalists.

The Fight Continues

Despite battling cancer, Gorriti has regained some of his strength. “I had hoped at this time in my life to write all those unwritten books that I have inside me,” he said. But now, he’s focused on fighting back with all his knowledge and strategies. “You can make the best plans, but fate has its way,” he added. “But I will fight back with my best efforts, knowledge, strategies, and tactics, and I have always fought to win.”

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