Critical Brazilian blogger shot to death

New York, December 26, 2014–Brazilian authorities must thoroughly investigate Tuesday’s murder of a Brazilian blogger and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Marcos de Barros Leopoldo Guerra, who wrote a critical blog in Ubatuba, a city on the northern coast of Sao Paulo state, was shot to death at his home, according to news reports.

Guerra, 51, was a journalist and a lawyer who wrote the blog Ubatuba Cobra, which alleged local corruption and was critical of local authorities, the Brazilian press said. Guerra was gunned down on Tuesday night by unidentified assailants on a motorcycle, according to news reports.

The attackers opened fire on Guerra from outside the home through a kitchen window, reports said. The blogger’s father said that he was in the house when he heard the sound of a motorcycle accelerating and then several shots, news reports said. Guerra died after being struck by bullets in the face, back, and abdomen.

“We condemn the murder of Marcos de Barros Leopoldo Guerra, which is latest reminder of the extreme danger facing Brazilian journalists who report on corruption,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Authorities must bring all those responsible to justice and ensure that journalists can practice critical reporting without fearing retribution.”

Investigators are looking into Guerra’s work as a possible motive, according to press reports. Residents said Guerra had received threats for the articles on his blog, according to the reports. In one of his latest posts, Guerra questioned local authorities over the alleged diversion of public funds. “One of the hypotheses that we’re investigating is that the crime may have been motivated by one of his publications on the blog,” Ubatuba Civil Police chief Fausto Cardoso told the Brazilian press.

Twenty-nine journalists have been killed in Brazil in direct relation to their work since CPJ began keeping records in 1992. On May 6, CPJ released a comprehensive report on the press freedom climate in Brazil. The report examined Brazil’s record on impunity in journalist murders; violence against journalists; censorship by the courts; and Internet freedom. A CPJ delegation presented President Dilma Rousseff with the report’s recommendations.