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[VIRTUAL] Free Speech Live!: Journalism and the Freedom to Report in Latin America

Street scene in Colombia in background; on top: “Free Speech Live! A biweekly virtual forum for students. Journalism and the Freedom to Report in Latin America featuring special guest: Daniel Alejandro Pinilla, journalist and human rights activist, Colombia”

An online forum hosted by PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program as part of our biweekly student-centered evening workshop series, Free Speech Live!

Attacks on the freedom to report have spared no country in Latin America. Throughout the region, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated already dangerous conditions for journalists as government crackdowns have intensified and protracted economic insecurities continue to fuel civil unrest and irregular migration. As these challenges continue to complicate public access to true and reliable information, raising awareness and advocating for rights of journalists in the region have become even more crucial. To support this effort, how should young journalists and activists contextualize press freedom among other human rights advocacy movements in Latin America? What can young people in the United States learn from the region so that they can effectively advocate for journalistic freedom everywhere?


Join PEN America for this interactive online forum featuring a brief presentation, discussion, and Q&A session with Daniel Alejandro Pinilla, a Colombian journalist and human rights activist in the 2021 Human Rights Advocates Program at Columbia University, to discuss answers to these questions and more. High school and college alumni of PEN America’s Institutes and other students are welcome to join.

Special Guest

Daniel Alejandro Pinilla headshotDaniel Alejandro Pinilla is a Colombian journalist with more than nine years of experience in human rights and sustainable development. Pinilla is currently in the 2021 Human Rights Advocates Program at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He has worked for international organizations such as the United Nations; Caritas Internationalis in Vatican City; and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, where he is currently project coordinator of the Rule of Law Program for Latin America. As a journalist, he wrote for the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo and the international news chain CNN. Most recently, he has led important initiatives using new technologies to promote human rights such as databases with open access to regional jurisprudence, virtual observatories of justice and journalism, the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, and online courses to access international justice. He has worked on interdisciplinary approaches like connections between arts and human rights. Pinilla holds a bachelor’s degree in social communication and journalism from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia) and a specialization in human rights from the Collège Universitaire Henry Dunant (Switzerland). In 2012, he was awarded a scholarship at the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica. Pinilla’s participation in HRAP is funded by friends of 1990 Advocate Felipe Michelini of Uruguay in his memory.


Nicholas Perez headshot

Nicholas “Niko” Perez is the manager of free expression and education at PEN America. In this role, he advances PEN America’s efforts to catalyze a more informed, civic culture through free expression education for the rising generation and the general public, and supports advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion in higher education. Perez co-directs the Free Speech Advocacy Institute and hosts Free Speech Live!, a biweekly series of youth-oriented discussions focusing on contemporary issues related to free speech, open exchange, human rights, and democracy. Perez previously worked for the Columbia University Human Rights Advocates Program and consulted for the Human Rights Education and Training section at the United Nations.

Leila Markosian headshotLeila Markosian is the free expression and education program assistant at PEN America, supporting the Free Speech Advocacy Institute and its advocacy for free expression in educational institutions. She earned her BA in comparative literature with a focus on French and English texts from Middlebury College. Her honors thesis addressed colonization within the publishing industry, and she continues to be interested in how identity and platform constitute power. Before joining PEN America, Markosian served as program coordinator for the Page One Literacy Project, and interned at the New England Review.

Peris Tushabe headshotPeris Tushabe is the free expression and education program assistant at PEN America, supporting PEN America’s advocacy for free expression in educational institutions as well as the Free Speech Advocacy Institute. Tushabe was born and raised in Uganda before moving to the United States, where she attended high school and earned her bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College in political science, minoring in French language studies. At Skidmore, she also wrote her honors thesis on youth movements in Uganda and the role that social media plays in pushing back against authoritarian governments. Prior to joining PEN America, Tushabe interned at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum as a public programming assistant, and worked for candidate Tedra Cobb in her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. Tushabe is a proud member of Phi Sigma Alpha and Phi Beta Kappa, and continues to be interested in the ways young people can harness power to push for their rights and more democratic and free futures.

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