Mexico City (Associated Press)-Fernando González has spent decades reporting and directing major stories in Latin America for the Associated Press, from the Pope’s visit to border skirmishes, hurricanes and hostage confrontations , Died in Havana.
The Cuban forensic director said that González, 60, died at home on Monday morning after a heart attack.
González is gregarious and seemingly inexhaustible. He is particularly strong and compassionate in crisis situations, whether it’s reporting the news or tirelessly organizing help when a colleague is sick or injured.
“Fernando represents the best of the Associated Press. He is an amazing reporter who likes big news,” said Julie Pace, executive editor of the Associated Press. “He is also an enthusiastic and caring colleague who has had an impact on every corner of the organization. He will be deeply missed.”
Gonzalez was born in Uruguay, graduated from high school in Santiago, Chile, and then studied at the University of Miami. Before finally entering news production, he worked for a local radio station and often worked as a freelancer for the Associated Press in Latin America.
Gonzalez joined the Associated Press full-time in 2002 as a senior producer of Havana TV News. He moved to Washington, DC in 2014 as a regional video editor for Latin America and the Caribbean, and then moved to Mexico City in 2016 as the Associated Press’s deputy news director for the region. González returns to Cuba in 2020 to serve as Director of News for the Caribbean and the Andes.
The main stories he reported include the hostages of the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Peru in 1996, the devastating impact of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 on Central America, and the 2004 coup that overthrew Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
In 2007, Gonzalez reported from Antarctica on the visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Gonzalez also reported on the three Popes’ visits to Cuba by Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Francis, as well as the historic visit of President Barack Obama in 2016 and the previous visit to Cuba later that year. The death of President Fidel Castro.
Anita Snow reopened the Associated Press Havana bureau in 1999 after being absent for nearly 30 years, praising Gonzalez as “a great reporter” and calling him “a better man: Enthusiasm, generosity and consistency.”
“He probably knows Latin America better than anyone,” said Snow, who has worked with Gonzalez in Cuba and Mexico. She is currently an Associated Press writer in Phoenix.
Chris Gillette, senior video producer at the Associated Press in Brazil and Gonzalez high school classmate, agreed.
“He is a very good person, very charming, so he can get into places that others might find challenging-a true storyteller, kind and smart,” Gillette said.
Gonzalez left behind his wife Lisa, children Maria Linda and Nicholas, three grandchildren and his parents.