Radio journalist gunned down in Brazil

São Paulo, March 2, 2015–Brazilian authorities should immediately investigate the murder of radio journalist Ivanildo Viana, identify the motive, and bring the killers to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

“Journalists in Brazil have faced a wave of deadly violence in recent years and, in most cases, the killers have gone unpunished,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s Americas senior program coordinator, from New York. “Brazilian authorities must thoroughly investigate this crime and examine all possible motives.”

Unidentified assailants on a motorcycle pursued Viana, who was on his own motorcycle, and shot him several times, news reports said citing police. His body was found on the side of the highway that runs between Santa Rita and João Pessoa, the capital of Paraíba state. None of his belongings, including his motorcycle, were taken, police said.

“It’s not a particularly dangerous stretch of road. There’s no track record of murders or robberies there, and so that’s why we think it was a hit–maybe because of his work or because of a dispute he had with someone,” Heber Rommel, an officer with the federal highway patrol, told CPJ.

Viana, 51, had worked on two television shows and three different radio stations before joining 100.5 FM Lider about 20 years ago, his colleague, Jose Antonio Borges, told CPJ. Viana hosted a daily show called “100% You,” which ran from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in which he spoke to callers, played music, and offered opinions on the stories of the day.

“He would run campaigns asking for donations, and he really tried to help people,” said Borges, who has an afternoon show on the station. “He was very popular and much loved.”

Borges told CPJ the journalist had not reported any threats or harassment.

Viana often spoke favorably about a half-hour politics show that followed his own, which was hosted by Damião Feliciano, a federal deputy who was also a friend of Viana’s, according to local journalists and Feliciano’s adviser. Feliciano’s wife, who is the vice-governor of the state, and the governor released a statement condemning Viana’s murder and said they would do all they could to solve the case quickly.

The officer in charge of the investigation told CPJ they had no leads. “We are working all lines of investigation,” detective Everaldo Barbosa said.

The Union of Professional Journalists of Paraiba State condemned Viana’s killing and called on police to speed up their investigation. “After three days, the police investigation still has no suspect or motive.”

Journalists in Paraíba are rarely targeted for their work, according to Rafael Freire, president of the state’s journalists’ union. Other parts of the country have seen an increase in lethal anti-press violence in recent years, according to CPJ research. Critical blogger Marcos de Barros Leopoldo Guerra was shot to death in his home on the northern coast of São Paulo state in December. At least 13 journalists have been killed in direct retaliation for their work since 2011 when President Dilma Rousseff took office, according to CPJ research.

  • For more data and analysis on Brazil, visit CPJ’s Brazil page here.