“This is so you will shut up and stop talking nonsense on the radio,” Sandoval Braga Junior was told by the two gunmen who burst into his studio on 21 September and pinned him to the ground. They then shot him in the leg, shattering his tibia, and left.
The manager of Radio União FM in Jaguaruana, a small town of 30,000 habitants in Ceará, and head of the Ceará State Radio and TV Association (ACERT), Braga Junior often criticizes the local authorities and Ceará’s politicians during the radio programmes he hosts
He underwent an operation for the gunshot injury to his leg and is now out of danger. But three of the four other radio show hosts to be the targets of shooting attacks this year – Marlon Carvalho, Jefferson Pureza and Jairo Sousa – were killed. The fourth, Hamilton Alves, miraculously escaped an attack in the northern state of Rondônia in April.
“Three radio presenters have already been murdered this year in Brazil and two others have narrowly escaped death,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau.
“How many other journalists will have to be gunned down in cold blood or physically attacked before the local and federal authorities realize that this kind of violence is unacceptable in a democracy? Action by the authorities is all the more urgent because of the upcoming general elections. The attack on Sandoval Braga Junior and the previous attacks must not go unpunished.”
Local radio stations play a key role in Brazil, especially in small and mid-sized towns in the interior, where they are a popular source of news – often the only one – about local politics and the activities of local authorities.
The journalists who host these popular radio shows are often described as “polemical.” As well as being exposed to this kind of attack, they are also often threatened and subjected to intimidation campaigns, which tend to become more frequent in the run-up to elections. The polling for Brazil’s next general elections is due to take place on 8 and 28 October.
Brazil is ranked 102nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.