AP Photographer Rodrigo Abd receives Cabot Prize

Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism honored five veteran journalists for distinguished coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean on Tuesday.

Rodrigo Abd, an Associated Press photographer who has spent years documenting social problems in Latin America, was one of four who received the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, considered the oldest in international journalism.

The other winners were Rosental C. Alves of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas; Margarita Martinez, a Colombian filmmaker; and Oscar Martinez of the digital newspaper El Faro in El Salvador.

A special citation was awarded to Marina Walker Guevara of the Panama Papers reporting team at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Abd said starting out he wanted to be a journalist finding his own stories rather than someone just waiting for a photo assignment. The 39-year-old Argentine said that when he documented the lives of gang members in Guatemala the world was focused on the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And when he immersed himself in the crisis in Honduras following the ousting of its president in 2009, much of the world's attention was on the global economic crisis.

"But here is the main point: we care, we love this continent (Latin America) and we want to tell stories in depth in our home countries," Abd said.

Abd, who also has worked in Haiti, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and other parts of the world, was on the AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for photographic coverage of the civil war in Syria.

The winners were announced in July. Judges noted Abd's ability to illuminate social issues in spite of great risks and experiment with technique.

The prize was established in 1938 to recognize distinguished journalism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Winners receive a gold medal and $5,000.

It is the third consecutive year an Associated Press journalist has been honored with the prize.