The change of government, although the result of the election of a presidential candidate from the party in power, Dilma Rousseff, has reduced some of the tension between the highest federal administration and the press over some matters of freedom of expression. Unlike former President Lula, who often made comments that revealed his displeasure with the work of the independent press, the new executive is not given to making polemic pronouncements, and since her first speech as president, she has affirmed her commitment to freedom of the press. The former minister of the Department of Social Communications of the executive branch, Franklin Martins, was replaced by an experienced journalist who has adopted a difference stance, focusing on disseminating government actions without politicizing official communications, unlike his predecessor. In this way, proposals for regulation of the media have lost some steam, although not disappearing altogether. Martins had been their primary defender. The new government took office on January 1st, and political debate has just now started up, due to summer vacation and carnival, which, as usual, had led the National Congress to suspend its usual activities. The startup of parliamentary work should produce debate of recurring issues surrounding freedom of expression, such as proposals for the regulation and social control of the media, limiting freedom of commercial expression, and introduction into the constitution of a provision that dates from a decree issued by the military regime, which would require a degree in journalism in order to practice the profession. In regard to the Judicial Branch, one of the first measures taken by the new president was to appoint the 11th member of the Federal Supreme Court, a position that had been vacant since the second half of 2010. The appointment does not change the composition of the Supreme Court which is already highly favorable to freedom of expression. This situation, however, does not prevent lower levels of the judiciary from proliferating voluntary and anti-constitutional views that open the way for decisions of a censoring nature and that undermine freedom of expression. Recalling an emblematic case, a decision is still pending on an appeal of a decision rendered by Appeals Judge Dacio Vieira of the Court of Justice of the Federal District and Territories. That decision prohibited publication by the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, other outlets in the Estado group, or any other media that subscribes to the group’s editorial services, of reports containing information resulting from recordings obtained by the Federal Police of Maranhão about supposed irregularities on the part of businessman Fernando Sarney, son of José Sarney, President of the Senate and former President of the Republic, under penalty of incurring a fine of R$ 150,000 for “each act of violation of this judicial order.” After having issued three decisions confirming the censorship, that Court declared itself incompetent to judge the matter further, removed Judge Dacio Vieira from the case, and transferred jurisdiction to the Federal Civil Court of the First Level of the State of Maranhão. In the meantime, the decision still stands. On January 29, 2010, the newspaper refused to accept an offer to withdraw the case by Fernando Sarney. In a statement submitted to the Court of Justice of the Federal District, the O Estado de S. Paulo declared that it preferred to go to the final judgment on the merits of the case rather than “be at the mercy of a precarious ‘withdrawal’ subject to future and unpredictable whims of the plaintiff (Fernando Sarney).” Below are the cases recorded over the past six months. March 23, 2011. On the morning of that day, blogger Ricardo Gomes was shot at in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. According to officials of the 19th Batallion of the Military Police, the blogger was hit by three shots (in the head, neck, and right shoulder) after being approached by men in a silver-colored car. Gomes has harshly criticized state and local authorities, but his most recent postings concern drug trafficking, declaring that an “entrepreneur” who supplied the Rocinha favela with cocaine was back on the street. He also revealed that members of the drug gang Nem (Antônio Francisco Bonfim) were also back in town, supposedly involved in a shootout at a hotel. The ANJ has insisted to the police that they intensify their search for the instigator of the attacks and his motives, and that they provide adequate protection to the blogger, who is hospitalized, in the face of evidence that the attack was meant to kill him. March 11, 2011. Journalist Alexandre Rolim, of the Parecis news program filed a complaint with the local police, accusing the mayor, Mauro Berft of Campo Novo do Parecis in the State of Mato Grosso, of having threatened and attacked him. At a meeting held at the department of culture of the city, Berft approached the reporter and accused him of having stated that he (Berft) had been booed in carnival and threatening him with the warning to “be careful with what you say.” He further pressed the journalist’s shoulder against a desk in the office, an action that was seen by a witness. Rolim filed his complaint and submitted to a physical examination, which confirmed an injury to his shoulder. March 4, 2011. Blogger Adriana Vandoni was prohibited by judicial authorities from citing on her personal webpage, Prosa e Política, the name of state representative José Geraldo Riva (PP party), who was removed from office at the beginning of the year and who is answering 118 charges from the Prosecutor’s Office. Adriana has six judicial suits pending against her and a censorship order that has been effect for more than a year and a half. On March 3, she announced her intention to abandon journalism for good. March 4, 2011. Just hours after release of the March 3 issue of the newspaper O Popular in the state of Goiás, a convoy of police cars circulated through the city with sirens going, stopping in front of the offices of the paper, without any motive other than that of intimidation. The paper carried a report on an investigation being conducted by Federal Police – Operation Sixth Commandment – on the existence of an extermination group involving members of ROTAM. On March 16, a sort of virtual pamphlet with the message “Military Police of Goiás—the Enemy is now the Press” circulated on the Internet. The Military Police, through its spokesman, said that the campaign “does not reflect the thinking of the institution.” The Editor in Chief of O Popular, Cileide Alves, said that reporters had stopped signing their stories on the case and that the threats are being reported to the Goiás Department of Public Safety. February 22, 2011. The newspaper Correio Popular of Campinas (SP), reported in its February 21 issue that police officers were making the press’s work difficult by preventing consultation of police reports at the city’s police stations. According to the paper’s report, the internal affairs officer of the Civil Police, Roveraldo Battaglini, determined that such information would no longer be made available to journalists, under threat of arrest. The decision was apparently motivated by the dissemination by a television station of an image of such a report in which the name of officer Battaglini’s wife appeared—supposedly involved in the disappearance of medications from a public hospital. Today 46 civil police, including precinct chiefs, are responding to an accusation of breaking operational secrecy as a result of the episode. On March 22, the newspaper published a new story on the case with further information on the officer, giving closure to the case. January 13, 2011. Journalist Luis Cardoso received repeated death threats after publishing articles about the arrest order of mayor Manoel Mariano de Souza in the city of Barra do Corda in Maranhão, who has disappeared. As a precaution, Cardoso has requested protection from the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Police. No employee of the mayor’s office would comment on the case, simply saying that the reporter’s words were untrue. January 6, 2011. A team of reporters from RBS TV, an affiliate of TV Globo in the state of Santa Catarina, was attacked while investigating an accusation from the Prosecutor’s Office (PO) against business people from Indaial in the Valley of Itajaí. Reporter Francis Silvy was attacked with blows to the face. After the attack, he, photographer Márcio Ramos and his assistant, Andrei Luiz, were threatened with a firearm. In addition to this, a window of their car was broken. The team was in the parking lot of the wholesale shopping center Vitória Régia, recording external scenes, when the owner of the property, Vilmar Gaio, his son Diego Gaio, and a security guard tried to prevent the recording. The reporters were investigating accusations from the PO that five business men of the city had made an agreement to boycott a wholesale shopping center in Brusque. January 4, 2011. Press spokesman Jorge Chahad, who now works for city hall of Aguaí in the interior of São Paulo state, had his car damaged by five shots. The journalist was watching television at home when he heard the shots against his car that was parked in the garage of his home. For Chahad, who also writes for the regional newspaper, O Imparcial. The journalist believes that the attack was a reaction to his articles published in the newspaper of Aguaí. The texts published in O Imparcial cover corruption schemes, embezzlement at city hall, and questions that involve politicians who run for city posts. November 9, 2010. A court decision prohibited the website Consultor Jurídico from publicizing a decision by the National Council of Justice (CNJ) about an administrative process that is going on in secret against a judge in São Paulo. The magazine was required to remove a report published on August 31 last year about the decision of the CNJ favorable to carrying out the investigation. The decision against ConJur is by Judge Ana Laura Corrêa Rodrigues, of the 16 Civil Court of the Central Forum of the capital of São Paulo. The editors received a copy of the decision, signed on October 8, not from an official process server, but from a representative of the office that is defending the judge. The fine for violation of the order was stipulated at R$ 500 per day. April 1, 2011. The magazine Caras circulated with black stripes over the name of a figure from the international jet set, the former husband of the model and actress Cibele Dorsa, who had committed suicide on March 26. The model had sent an e-mail to her best friend and editor of Caras telling the reasons for her act. The ex-husband obtained an injunction preventing publication of his name and photo. Ready for printing, the magazine resorted to the black stripes to comply with the court order.