The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed sadness at the death of former IPI Executive Board Chair Jorge Fascetto, who passed away Saturday at the age of 89.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1932, Fascetto studied civil engineering at La Plata National University. In 1967 he became the general manager of El Día newspaper in La Plata and in 1980 was appointed chairman of the Board of Directors of that daily as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the newspaper Diario Popular in Sarandí, Buenos Aires.

He became vice president of the Argentinian media associations ADIRA (Asociación de Diarios del Interior de la República Argentina) and ADEPA (Asociación de Entidades Periodísticas Argentinas) in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He was also chairman of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) from 1998 to 1999.

Fascetto joined IPI as a member in 1980 and served on its Executive Board from 1998 to 2006. In 2002 he was elected chair of IPI – one of only two Latin Americans to hold the position to date – and served in this capacity until 2004. When he took office, the media situation in Argentina was precarious. As head of IPI’s international community of editors, media executives and leading journalists he was able to vigorously oppose potential political attacks against the media in his country and elsewhere.

He also promoted a closer cooperation with the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), whose activities in the Americas mirrored the work of IPI around the world.

One of Fascetto’s most outstanding contributions to IPI was his work concerning the safety of journalists in hostile environments. Hailing from Latin America, long one of the the world’s most dangerous regions to work as a journalist, Fascetto was deeply convinced of the need for an organization dedicated solely to the safety of journalists and media staff. In November 2002, IPI, together with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and several other professional organizations, established the International News Safety Institute (INSI), which was officially launched on May 3, 2003, World Press Freedom Day. This authoritative coalition of media professionals worked closely with IPI to create a culture of safety for media in all corners of the world.

Fascetto’s energetic drive and dedication to the cause of free expression also led IPI to undertake important press freedom missions to Israel, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela, among others.

In 2014 Fascetto published his memoir, in which he detailed his press freedom work as leader of IAPA, as well as IPI. In the book, titled Portazo al autoritarismo – Vivencias de mi paso por la SIP (Slamming Authoritarianism – Experiences from My Time at IAPA), he reflected:

“I don’t think there can be a society worth living in without freedom of expression and freedom of the press. That is, where everyone has to right to speak, express an opinion, or think without fear of reprisal. Freedom of the press is a primary principle of humanity, derived from natural law. The exercise of this freedom is not some granting by those in power but an inalienable right of the people.”

IPI joins members of the journalistic community across Argentina and Latin America in mourning Fascetto’s death.

“The passing of Jorge Fascetto is a tremendous loss for the IPI community, for journalism in Latin America, and for the defence of press freedom around the world”, IPI Executive Director Frane Maroevic said. “Jorge was an indispensable and indefatigable voice for media freedom and journalist safety. His energy and dedication was integral to IPI as an organization.”

“On behalf of IPI’s global network, I extend our deepest condolences to Jorge’s family, friends, and colleagues. He will be long remembered as a great friend of IPI and of our common cause.”