MIAMI, Florida (February 10, 2012)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today voiced anger at the killing of Brazilian journalist Mário Randolfo Marques Lopes and his girlfriend Maria Aparecida Guimarães and called on the authorities to conduct a prompt and in-depth investigation to determine the motive and bring those responsible to justice.
Lopes, 50, and his girlfriend were killed early yesterday (February 9) on a street in Barra do Piraí, a town in Rio de Janeiro state. According to eye-witnesses the two were kidnapped and found several hours later with signs of having been shot. Lopes was editor of the Web site Vassouras na Net in the neighboring town of Vassouras. On this Web site he denounced actions by judges, police officers and politicians and due his allegations he had already been the victim of an attempt on his life in July 2011 in which he almost died, the IAPA’s Rapid Response Unit learned. No one has been accused of carrying out that attack.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, expressed outrage at the journalist’s death and asked the Brazilian authorities to “investigate Lopes’ apparent murder transparently and speedily so as to be able to determine who was responsible.”
In another development, the IAPA publicly called on the government of Paraguay to take relevant action to provide protection for journalist Cándido Figueredo, correspondent of the newspaper ABC Color in Pedro Juan Caballero, a town on the Paraguayan border with Brazil.
Several weeks ago Figueredo was warned by officers of the Group for Special Action Against Organized Crime (Gaeco) of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul that they had intercepted phone calls made by a Paraguayan drug trafficker to an inmate of the prison in Campo Grande city. In that phone conversation the two proposed murdering the journalist. Figueredo, who has had a police escort for the past several years, recently published in ABC Color a report exposing drug trafficking along clandestine border trails.