Miami (November 1, 2010)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed outrage at the murder in Brazil of journalist José Ruben Pontes de Souza – the second of its kind in the South American country in less than two weeks – and called on the authorities there to pay special attention to these demonstrations of violence and investigate swiftly to determine the motives so as to bring those responsible to justice.
De Souza, 39, was killed early on Saturday (October 30) morning in Paraíba do Sul, 92 miles from Rio de Janeiro. Police reported that the editor and publisher of the newspaper Entre-Rios in the town of Três Rios was fatally shot in the neck by an assailant who was traveling in an automobile and then sped off. The attack occurred as De Souza was leaving a party in a tavern. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died from his wounds.
IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre declared, “We are saddened by this murder of yet another colleague and we trust that the Brazilian authorities will investigate this crime right away.” Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, added, “The issue of violence unleashed against journalists and news media in our hemisphere will have a prominent role during the IAPA General Assembly in Mérida,” which begins this Friday (November 5) and continues through November 9.
Local media reported that recently the Entre-Rios paper had given prominent coverage to the murder in Três Rios of a young woman from São Paulo.
Aguirre recalled that on October 18 another journalist had been murdered in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Norte state, Francisco Gomes de Medeiros. “We hope that the authorities will act swiftly to avoid the possibility that such crimes become a pattern of conduct for those who resort to violence,” he added.
In another development, the chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, expressed concern at death threats having been made to journalist Jorge Medellín of the Mexican weekly Milenio Semanal.
On October 31, in remarks made on the Internet about a report by Medellín on General Felipe de Jesús Espitia, former commander of the Chihuahua Joint Operation, the journalist, who specializes in covering military topics, was issued a death threat.
So far this year a total of 21 journalists have been murdered in the Americas – two in Brazil, 10 in Mexico, eight in Honduras and one in Colombia.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. The IAPA Impunity Project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com