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2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund. In honor of this milestone, IIE-SRF celebrated the 500 remarkable scholars from 50 countries who had the distinction of being awarded IIE-SRF fellowships. To raise awareness of the urgent needs of persecuted academics around the world, and the importance of responding in kind, IIE-SRF featured 10 scholars representing the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund's 10 years of service. News on special anniversary events and publications are also posted.
Professor Daniel Coronell, a renowned journalist from Colombia, has studied and reported on the links between Colombian drug traffickers, local self-defense forces and government officials for the past twenty years. In Colombia, where political or drug-related crime is the cause of death second only to cancer, intimidation by drug traffickers, guerrillas, and paramilitary groups plagues professional reporting. Illegal armed groups commonly threaten, kidnap, and kill journalists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Colombia ranks as the third most dangerous country for journalists.
In April 2005, Professor Coronell began to receive death threats as he investigated the election of the Commissioner of Television, who reportedly had the backing of a powerful drug trafficker’s brother. In the months following, the increasingly sinister intimidations started to target his family: they gave detailed information about the way his six-year-old daughter was dressed and how and at what time she arrived at school. The authors of the threats knew his wife’s schedule and appearance. Then, in May 2005, two funeral wreaths were delivered to Professor Coronell’s office. One arrived bearing his name; the other was adorned with the names of his wife and daughter. The family also received cards mourning their own deaths. Menacing emails were traced to a former senator’s computer, and though he denied sending them himself, he did admit that the messages were sent from his computer. The Colombian government reportedly did not press for further investigations.
After threats aimed at his daughter persisted, Professor Coronell and his family left Bogotá. Initially, he pursued his work as a John S. Knight senior research fellow at Stanford University. With support from the Scholar Rescue Fund, he was able to continue his research and writing at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley for the 2006-07 academic year. As a visiting scholar, he lectured in the center and conducted research focusing on the origins and history of the contemporary culture of political violence. “With this work, I hope to shine some light upon the complex historical conjuncture through which my country is passing, and reinforce an independent vision of our present reality.”
Currently, Professor Coronell is Senior Vice President and Executive News Director at Univision and is based in Miami, Florida. Before fleeing to the United States, he produced a Colombian national newscast “Noticias Uno”, where his wife, Maria Cristina Uribe, was also a journalist and news anchor. In addition, he founded a television company, which produces one of the country’s most watched weekend news programs. He continues to write a weekly column for Revista Semana, the country’s largest news magazine. Professor Coronell’s coverage of politically sensitive and controversial topics earned him Colombia’s highest journalistic accolades: the Colombian “Simon Bolivar” journalism award (on six occasions); in 2009, the highest award for a TV investigative report by the Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano – Cemex, for “Un Crímen casi perfecto” (An Almost Perfect Crime) together with a team of journalists from Noticias Uno. The program aired in 2007. Since 1994, Professor Coronell has taught undergraduate and graduate journalism at three of Colombia’s leading academic institutions in Bogotá, including most recently, the Universidad de los Andes.