The murder of two journalists over the weekend in Brazil and Peru brought a sharp protest today from the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).
Killed in Brazil on Friday (February 22) was Mafaldo Bezerra Goes, host of a program broadcast on Radio Jaguaribe FM in the town of Jaguaribe, some 180 miles from Fortaleza city in the northeastern state of Ceará.
Goes, 61, at 8:00 a.m. that morning was walking to the radio station when he was fatally shot five times – twice in the head and three times in the chest – by two assailants on a motorcycle.
According to local media and preliminary investigations by the police, in which it was learned that he had been threatened, his murder could have been linked to what he broadcast on his program, in which he used to expose corruption.
In Peru, Luis Choy, news photographer with the Lima newspaper El Comercio, was killed. The paper reported that at 3:40 p.m. on Saturday (February 23) Choy was leaving his home in a pickup truck when he noticed a man waiting for him on the street. Choy, 34, got out his vehicle and was believed to have exchanged words with the man, who shot him twice, once in the head and once in the chest, according to an eye-witness.
The Peruvian police, who began special investigations into the case, ruled out robbery as the motive for the crime and said they were looking into several theories.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, offered his condolences and solidarity with colleagues and families of the journalists killed in Brazil and Peru. He declared that “a prompt and in-depth investigation to learn the motives, identify the murderers and bring them to justice is the best way to honor the memory of those no longer with us and to challenge the culture of violence that believes itself to be unpunishable.”
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added that the IAPA is concerned at the lack of assurances and protection that many members of the press face while doing their work. “This is a matter that we plan to continue raising until we get a consensus on what are the appropriate measures to ensure the physical integrity of journalists. Neither we nor the governments can remain impassive when journalists continue to die like flies in Latin America,” Paolillo said.
On March 8-11 the IAPA will be holding in Puebla, Mexico, its Midyear Meeting at which it will review the state of press freedom in the Americas and hold panel discussions that will focus on the expansion in the Western Hemisphere of the phenomenon of violence against the press and what are the responsibilities that governments, journalists and news media should share in order to put an end to it.