Miami (September 16, 2011)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at the murder in Brazil of Vanderlei Canuto Leandor – the fifth such crime in the South American country this year – and urged officials there to investigate promptly so as to determine who was responsible and whether he was killed because of his work.
Canuto Leandro (known as Wanderley), 32, hosted the program “Séñal Verde” (Green Light), broadcast by the bilingual radio station Radio Frontera in Tabatinga, in Amazonas state, on the Brazilian border with Colombia and Peru.
He was killed on the evening of September 1 by two assailants riding a motorcycle as he was on his way home. They shot him eight times.
In his radio program he often reported on alleged wrongdoing and corruption in the local mayor’s office and in May this year he filed a formal complaint with the State Attorney’s Office after receiving death threats from a city official. It was not immediately known if his murder was linked to his work as a journalist.
IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín, president of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Siglo 21, offered his condolences and sympathy to Canuto Leandro’s family and colleagues, declaring, “We are stunned and concerned at the murder of another journalist in inland Brazil, which shows how vulnerable and unprotected are news men and women working for small media outlets far from the big cities.”
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, in referring to the numerous murders in Brazil and throughout the Americas this year said, “Regrettably, I think that we are losing the capacity to be surprised by such frightening statistics” and he expressed concern “that everyone is beginning to accept this culture of violence as if it were normal.”
Canuto Leandro’s murder was the fifth so far this year in Brazil, joining those of Auro Ida in Mato Grosso; Edinaldo Filgueira in Rio Grande do Norte; Valério Nascimento in Rio de Janeiro, and Luciano Leitão Pedrosa in Pernambuco. This year a total of 26 journalists have been killed in 10 countries in the Americas, these being, as well as the five in Brazil, five in Honduras, eight in Mexico, two in Peru and one each in, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Venezuela. In addition, a newsman has been missing in Mexico since June this year.
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.