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Brazil July 5, 2006
H.E. Luis Inacio Lula da Silva
Office of the President
Palacio do Planalto
Praca do Tres Poderes
10.150-900 Brasilia, DF
Federative Republic of Brazil
Fax: (011.55.61) 411-2222
We regret very much having to write to you regarding violations of Freedom of the Press in Brazil. In many respects, we greatly admire what your administration has done to uphold civil liberties. However, two recent attacks on the press require that we express our views. As you know, the Overseas Press Club of America represents more than 600 journalists all over the world with great experience in news reporting.
In mid-May, masked gunmen broke into the offices of the Sao Sebastiao newspaper, Tribune Livre . They beat five employees, made all staff members lie on the floor, they poured gasoline on a printing press and on the day’s press run, set them afire, then tossed a home-made bomb into a building and escaped on foot.
The newspaper had been reporting on gunfights between criminal gangs and the police in nearby Sao Paolo. We understand that gang members told employees of the newspaper that they should not report on activities of their gang, which is known as Primeiro Comando da Capital. This same gang, it appears, was involved in a strike that crippled public services for a while in Sao Paolo. Apparently, they were protesting the transfer of gang members to a remote prison from one in the city.
In another attack on the press, in early May, the community radio journalist, Camelo Luis de Sa, of Quitereanopolis in the state of Ceara was shot in the arm while presenting a news broadcast. Local police said the attacker was probably the son of the mayor of the town — apparently to punish the journalist for disclosing several cases of possible corruption in which the mayor, Francisco Vieira Costa, might be implicated.
Your Excellency, we at the Overseas Press Club of America are sure that your government would not knowingly tolerate such brazen attacks on a free press in Brazil. Therefore, we respectfully request that your government investigate these two cases to make sure that local authorities bring the perpetrators to justice.
Norman A. Schorr
Freedom of the Press Committee
Rubens Antonio Barbosa
Ambassador of Brazil to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 238-2827
Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
Permanent Mission of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the United Nations
747 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 371-5716
John J. Danilovich
U. S. Ambassador to Brazil
Embassy of the United States of America
SES-Quadra 801, Lote 03
Fax: (011.55.61) 3225-9136
Inter American Press Association
1801 SW 3rd Ave.
Miami, FL 33129
Fax (305) 635-2272