March 24, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Shooting attack on outspoken Rio blogger, reprisal suspected

Reporters Without Borders urges investigators to actively explore the possibility that yesterday’s nearly fatal shooting attack on blogger Ricardo Gama on a Rio de Janeiro street was linked to his blog, which is often very scathing about the local authorities. The police said they were not ruling it out. Gama, 40, was in the Rio neighbourhood of Copacabana when individuals in a black car shot him three times, in the head, neck and shoulder. Onlookers went to his aid and he was rushed to a hospital where the news website Comunique-se quoted doctors as saying his life was no longer in danger but he had partially lost sight in one eye. Gama’s blog often contains sensational revelations and blistering criticism of Rio de Janeiro politicians and senior police officers. He takes sides in politics and is openly opposed to Rio governor Sérgio Cabral and the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes. He very recently claimed that a “businessman” was involved in cocaine trafficking in Rocinha, the city’s biggest favela. “The investigation must take account of this recent claim,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Covering organized crime exposes Brazilian journalists to serious threats. The continuing and often controversial attempts to restore law and order in the favelas before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics will be covered by the media and the risks will be high for them and their staff. The federal and state authorities must keep paying close attention to this point.” Brazil made great progress as regards freedom of expression during President Inácio Lula da Silva’s two terms. It included repeal of a 1967 media law inherited from the military regime, a general improvement in access to public information and results in some investigations into murders of journalists. The federal communication ministry recently announced a plan to facilitate access to broadcast frequencies for the many community radio stations. This marks another step forward, given the media landscape’s significant inequalities. But the media are exposed to a high level of criminal violence in many regions, as well judicial harassment by local officials, a form of censorship that also affects bloggers.