Enrique Zileri, led Peru newsmagazine

Enrique Zileri, right, and Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Enrique Zileri, right, and Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa join dozens in attendance at the opening reception and exhibition of peruvian photographer Daphne Dougall de Zileri at the Embassy of Peru in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 18, 2011. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Marvin Joseph

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LIMA, Peru -- Enrique Zileri, who as longtime director of Peru's leading newsmagazine defied despotism and battled corruption with stubborn independence, died yesterday at age 83.

Under Zileri, Caretas magazine was highly critical of the dictatorships that have afflicted modern Peru, Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa said in a statement, calling him an "indefatigable defender of freedom and democracy" whose weekly "could never be bribed or intimidated."

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Zileri succumbed to complications from throat cancer, his daughter, Drusila, said. Her brother Marco took over as Caretas' editor in 2007, while she works principally for the weekly magazine's society-focused sister publication, "Ellos y Ellas."

Younger Peruvians remember Zileri for fashioning Caretas as a standard-bearer of press freedom in the 1990s as then-President Alberto Fujimori, now imprisoned, put fierce pressure on media independence.

Maintaining that line, said Drusila Zileri, could be "solitary and quixotic." Her father's most epic battles were against military dictator Gen. Juan Velasco, whose government deported him twice -- in 1969 to Portugal and in 1975 to Argentina.

The government shut down Caretas six times from 1968-1977, once for nearly two years, said the magazine's marketing director Katia Ysla Delgado. Enrique Zileri received a 3-year prison sentence in absentia and was amnestied when Velasco fell, she added. In 1979, the ruling military junta closed the magazine again, this time for five months. -- AP

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