Fernando González, AP head of Caribbean information, dies in Cuba
MEXICO CITY — Fernando González, who spent many years masking and directing main tales for The Related Press throughout Latin America, from papal visits to frame skirmishes, hurricanes and hostage standoffs, has died in Havana.
González, 60, died at his dwelling early Monday after struggling a coronary heart assault, Cuba’s forensic medication director mentioned.
Gregarious and seemingly inexhaustible, González, recognized for his trademark lengthy grey ponytail, was particularly robust and compassionate in disaster conditions, each masking the information and tirelessly organizing assist when colleagues have been unwell or injured.
“Fernando represented the perfect of AP. He was a terrific journalist and liked the massive tales,” mentioned AP Government Editor Julie Tempo. “He was additionally a heat and caring colleague, somebody whose affect was felt throughout all corners of the group. He might be dearly missed.”
Born in Uruguay, González graduated from highschool in Santiago, Chile, after which attended the College of Miami. He labored for an area radio station earlier than ultimately transferring into information manufacturing, usually freelancing for The Related Press in Latin America.
González joined the AP full time in 2002 as senior producer for tv information in Havana. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 2014 as regional video editor for Latin America and the Caribbean after which to Mexico Metropolis because the AP’s deputy information director for the area in 2016. González returned to Cuba in 2020 as information director for the Caribbean and Andes.
Among the many main tales he coated have been the 1996 hostage siege on the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Peru, Hurricane Mitch’s devastating affect on Central America in 1998, and the 2004 coup that overthrew Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
In 2007 González reported from Antarctica on the go to of U.N Secretary-Basic Ban Ki-moon.
González additionally coated three papal journeys to Cuba by St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, in addition to President Barack Obama’s historic go to in 2016 and the dying of former Cuban President Fidel Castro later that yr.
Anita Snow, who reopened AP’s Havana bureau in 1999 after an almost 30-year absence, praised González as “a fantastic journalist,” calling him, “a good higher human being: heat, beneficiant and persistently variety.”
“And he most likely knew Latin America higher than anybody,” mentioned Snow, who labored with González in Cuba and Mexico. She is at present an AP author in Phoenix.
Chris Gillette, senior video producer for the AP in Brazil and a highschool classmate of González, agreed.
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“He was a extremely good folks particular person, and really charming, so he was in a position to get into locations others may discover difficult — a real raconteur, amiable and good,” Gillette mentioned.
Nico Maounis, head of particular information occasions for AP’s broadcast companies, recalled Gonzalez because the consummate deal dealer, gaining the AP entry to everybody from presidents and different excessive officers to the straightforward man on the road.
“What was he like as an individual? He was outgoing, he was cosmopolitan, he was humorous, he was a diplomat, he was severe, a comic book and a joker. He was every little thing,” Maounis mentioned.
Longtime AP photographer Enric Marti summed up González’s compassion for these much less lucky, noting how he continued to patronize his favourite Mexico Metropolis restaurant, Lucille, even through the pandemic when others stayed away, tipping the waiters handsomely.
“He stored going and raised cash for the waiters. … They mainly had no suggestions and no cash,” mentioned Marti, AP’s deputy director of pictures/world enterprise. “Each time I used to be on the town we might meet in Lucille. It was Fernando’s bar.”
González is survived by his spouse Lisa, kids Maria Linda and Nicolas, and three grandchildren, in addition to his dad and mom.