MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Raul O. Garces, a veteran Associated Press correspondent who defied military censors and leftist guerrillas as he covered many of the tumultuous events of South America for more than a half-century, died on Saturday from a massive heart attack. He was 73.
Garces died at the city's Spanish Hospital, where he had gone for a checkup, his son-in-law said.
For nearly 56 years, Garces covered the top stories in Uruguay and Argentina, where he was forced into an unhappy exile after his determination to report the facts clashed with military censors during Uruguay's 1973-1985 dictatorship. He also had faced death threats from the country's leftist Tupamaro guerrillas, and after six arrests, the military told AP managers they would not guarantee his safety.
"When they interrogated me for many hours they tried to get me mixed up in some situation, but I could always demonstrate it wasn't so, because it wasn't so: My only guide was my obligation to inform," Garces said. "I was never an activist of any kind; I didn't belong to any cause. I went to jail because of my news coverage ... for my refusal to agree to censorship."
With AP's help, Garces fled in 1977 to Buenos Aires, where he continued to write for the agency until the Montevideo correspondency reopened and he moved back home in 1991.
Raul Omar Garces Cabrera was born in Montevideo on May 7, 1939, and joined AP as a 17-year-old office boy in 1956, picking up journalism skills along the way. He also kept up side jobs writing for the Uruguayan newspapers El Diario, Sport, Busqueda and La Manana before focusing his work on AP.