Murder attempt on journalist, arson attack on blogger’s car in Rio de Janeiro state
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for exhaustive and transparent investigations to ensure that a shooting attack on a journalist in Magé, a municipality in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state, on 17 August, and an arson attack on a blogger’s car in Magé on 8 August do not go unpunished. The authorities must also protect these journalists, RSF says.
“They tried to silence me but, thank God, I’m still here,” said Vinícius Lourenço, the founder and editor of the Portal Impacto News website, after his car was hit by several shots, one right beside his head, as he was driving between the nearby locality of Piabetá and Magé on the evening of 17 August.
Lourenço survived only because the car he has been driving for the past ten years is armour-plated. Although he had not reported receiving threats, he said in a video recorded outside Magé police headquarters that he believed that this murder attempt was closely linked to his journalistic activities.
Blogger Eduardo César’s car was the target of an arson attack while parked outside his home in Magé on the night of 8 August. On his Tarja Preta News blog, César reported that the fire that started on the car’s back seat was clearly deliberate because one of the car’s doors had been forced.
Both Lourenço and César cover Magé politics including issues linked to Mayor Renato Cozzolino’s management of the municipality’s affairs. On 17 August, shortly before the attempt on Lourenço’s life, Lourenço and César discussed the arson attack on César’s car in a joint Facebook Live broadcast, in which César said, “I regard myself as an already dead man.”
“These attacks are extremely worrying and cannot remain unpunished,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “It is unacceptable that journalists covering stories linked to local politics are subjected to attacks of such violence. We call on the authorities to conduct an exhaustive and exemplary investigation into this murder attempt and this arson attack, and to ensure that both journalists are protected.”
The Rio de Janeiro state branch of the national programme for the protection of journalists, with which RSF is in contact, reported that it is assisting in both cases.
Brazil continues to be a violent country for the media, especially at the local level, and journalists are often attacked and sometimes killed in connection with their work. In most cases, these reporters, radio hosts, bloggers or information providers of other kinds were covering stories linked to corruption, public policy or organised crime in small or mid-sized cities, where they are more vulnerable.
Brazil is ranked 107th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.