For one Brazilian journalist, harsh reality after exile

I have always been convinced that journalism is an instrument that transforms people and realities. I believe in this profession as a means of change, even if this implies some risk. I’ve been beaten almost to death and at another time have had to move to another city because I went to the limit of my possibilities in search of the truth in which I believe. But nothing is sadder than the psychological terror imposed by an omniscient and omnipresent enemy. An invisible enemy that hides in anonymity and is able to take away the ability to live with one’s family and freedom of movement.

I never imagined I’d reach this level of psychological torture by coordinating the Gazeta do Povo team that revealed corruption in the Civil Police of Paraná, one of the richest states in Brazil. Threats to shoot up my house were made to my  family. For five days we had to change hotels several times, protected by bodyguards. My 3-year-old son suffered most from the routine of stress and fear. My wife refused to go into exile with me in Peru. She preferred to stay away from me, the target of threats. Do not judge. She was thinking of the safety of our son.

Journalists in Exile
CPJ’s 2013 Exile report

For two months I was welcomed in Lima thanks to the generosity of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Press and Society Institute (IPYS), with support from the Gazeta do Povo. This forced exile led me to a thousand reflections. It is dificult to make decisions when you are alone, away from home. But it was necessary to make decisions, though by email or by Skype. Thus it was from a distance that I received the news from my wife that she would be moving to the city where she took refuge after the threats. Now back in Brazil, I try to accept the distance of more than a thousand miles from my son.

I see with a good deal of anguish the repetition of personal drama. In 2003, I had to move from Foz do Iguacu to Curitiba because of threats after my report that exposed a crime syndicate of police officers and car thieves on the border of Brazil with Paraguay. The move imposed on me a distance of 700 kilometers from my two older children from my first marriage. There is nothing sadder than a parent who can not enjoy living with his children, not being able to watch their growth–a story which repeats itself now with my youngest son.

The intention with these reports was to reveal what people have a right to know, in order to plant a seed of indigation in each of them, so that each one, within their means, could do something to improve the reality of all in turn. I just did not realize it would so negatively impact the reality of the people closest to me. I sincerely hope that no one else will have to pay such a high price for believing that journalism is a tool to improve our reality, to reveal injustices, to denounce corrupt governments, to expose an arbitrary police force.