Free Speech Lunch Will Be "One of the Most Exciting Ever"

AAN's Free Speech Lunch featuring Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora will be a can't-miss event at next week's Annual Convention in New Orleans.

AAN Free Speech chair and San Francisco Bay Guardian executive editor Tim Redmond says that it has been a long tradition at AAN conventions to remind reporters and editors that the fight for free speech is "at the heart of what we do."

The struggle is known all too well to Zamora, who has faced beatings, kidnappings, grenade attacks, and a home invasion at gunpoint for his reporting on government corruption, drug trafficking and human rights violations within his country.

Zamora, who started in journalism at the age of 17, has founded three newspapers over the course of his career: Siglo Veintiuno (1990), El Periódico (launched in 1996 with donations from 125 citizens committed to the freedom of the press), and Nuestro Diario (1998).

Zamora's commitment to exposing the truth has earned him recognition by Columbia University, the Committee To Protect Journalists, and the International Press Institute.

"We always have good speakers and this year's is one of the most exciting ever," Redmond said.

Harlan Mandel, chief executive officer of Media Development Loan Fund, a non-profit that provides loans to independent news outlets in countries with a history of media oppression, will introduce Zamora.

"José Rubén has a rare courage that enables him to keep fighting for the truth, and an unshakable dedication to building a better future for his country," said Mandel, adding that Zamora has "shone a light into the darkest corners of politics and society, exposing terrifying levels of violence and corruption."

The limited admission Free Speech Lunch will take place Saturday, July 23 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for $25 per person by downloading the registration form here and checking the "Free Speech Lunch" box.

Tickets may be purchased by fax up until Friday, July 15. After this week, all tickets for the event must be purchased on site (if still available).
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