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Brazil: Was the shooting of Ricardo Gama politically motivated?

Categories: Latin America, Brazil, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Media & Journalism

The Brazilian blogger Ricardo Gama, “forceful critic [1]” [pt] of the Governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Sergio Cabral Filho [2], and the Mayor of the city, Eduardo Paes [3], as well as “one of the most favorite activists of the blogosphere [4]” [pt] on what concerns abuse of power and other irregularities by the police in Brazil, was shot [5] on Wednesday, March 24.

Marcelo Delfino, from the blog Brasil, um País de Tolos (Brazil, a Fool's Country) reported [4] [pt] the crime:

Ricardo Gama […] foi baleado hoje de manhã em Copacabana. Levou dois tiros no rosto e um no tórax, disparados por um homem que o abordou em um carro prata.

Ricardo Gama […] was shot this morning in Copacabana. He was shot twice in his face and once in his chest, by a man who approached him in a silver car.

A “politically incorrect” blog archive

A controversial blogger, Gama is known for shooting videos with denunciations of the Government and posting them in his blog [6] [pt], gaining admirers and enemies wherever he goes. A few hours before the attack, Gama published two posts criticizing the governors of Rio de Janeiro – “his favorite targets”, as blogger Antônio Mello comments [7] – for the new procedures for disclosure of data about dengue in the city [8] [pt] and for the imprisonment of political activists [9] [pt] during Obama's visit to Brazil (reported [10]by Global Voices).

This is not the first time that Gama has suffered an attack, says [11] [pt] Conceição Oliveira, from the blog Maria Frô:

Ricardo Gama é aquele blogueiro que ficou famoso por exibir durante a campanha eleitoral um vídeo em que um adolescente negro cobrava o governador Sérgio Cabral e era destratado por este.

Em fevereiro durante a ocupação do Complexo do Alemão o Carro do blogueiro Ricardo Gama já tinha sido alvejado como ele denuncia aqui [12].

Ricardo Gama is that blogger who became famous for showing a video during electoral campaign where a black teenager was holding  Governor Sérgio Cabral to task and was insulted by [the Governor].

In February, during the [military] occupation of the Complexo do Alemão [a slum settlement in the north area of Rio de Janeiro] Ricardo Gama's car was shot at as he reveals here.

Concerning this particular attack and its investigation, journalist Antônio Mello shares some troubling information [13] [pt]:

A polícia ainda não tem pista alguma sobre o autor dos disparos. Testemunhas afirmam que ele chamou Ricardo pelo nome e este, quando se virou para ver quem o chamava, foi atingido pelos tiros. Ao cair, sempre segundo testemunhas, Ricardo teria repetido algumas vezes “queima de arquivo, queima de arquivo”.
Há pouco tempo teve um bate-boca com um policial da Delegacia de Copacabana [14], por causa do registro de uma ocorrência que o delegado se recusou a fazer. Nome do delegado: Bruno Giladerte, o mesmo que investiga agora o atentado.

The police doesn't have a clue yet about the shooter. Witnesses say that [the shooter] called Ricardo by name, and he was hit by gunfire as he turned to see who called him. While he was falling, still according to witnesses, Ricardo repeated a few times “file burning, file burning”.

Not long ago he had a quarrel with a police officer from the Copacabana bureau, due to a police report the officer refused to write. Name of the officer: Bruno Gilardete, the same person who now investigates the attack.

While Rio de Janeiro's police works within this context on the claim that Gama's texts may have been the motive for the crime [15] [pt], the blogosphere started wondering about the reasons for the attack.

The writer José Fonte de Santa Ana comments [16] [pt]:

A probabilidade de motivação política paira no ar porque Ricardo Gama fazia inúmeras denúncias sobre os descasos da administração pública (…).

The likelihood of political motivation hangs in the air because Ricardo Gama made ​​numerous complaints about the indifference of the public administration

Fernando Peregrino, a former candidate to Rio de Janeiro's government asks [17] [pt] if Gama would have raised political intolerance with his online advocacy:

Que Ricardo Gama é um militante social criativo e audacioso ninguém tem duvida. Mas será que ele despertou a intolerância política em nossa terra? […] e o uso de métodos criminosos para resolver divergências políticas. Ricardo exercia uma função jornalística destacada, então por que as instituições do setor não consideram um Atentado à liberdade de Imprensa? Ou elas só gritam para defender a liberdade de Empresa, e não de Imprensa como um todo. Será um recado? Podemos todos dormir tranqüilos de que as instituições de defesa da democracia estão em boas mãos?

No one has any doubts that Ricardo Gama is a creative and daring social activist. But may he have raised political intolerance in our land? […] and the use of criminal methods to resolve political differences. Ricardo pursued a distinguished journalistic function, so why don't the institutions from that sector consider an attack on press freedom? Or they just scream to defend freedom of enterprise, and not [freedom of] press as a whole. Could this be an message? Can we can all sleep quitely trusting that the institutions that defend democracy are in good hands?

The taxi driver and blogger Jorge Schweitzer prefers not to believe [18] [pt] that the crime may have had political motivations:

Descreio que a falta de inteligência ou motivação por ódio pelo blogueiro tenha levado algum político a tramar eliminar Ricardo Gama…Seria muita burrice…

I disbelieve that either lack of intelligence or a motive of hatred for the blogger has lead any politician to plot Ricardo Gama's elimination… That would be very idiotic …

The blogger Ricardo Gama, printscreen from a video posted by him in the web.

On the day of the attack, Paulo Ricardo Paúl, a professor, colonel and the former Mayor of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro, and also a friend of Ricardo Gama, vented [20] [pt] via Twitter that the “Rio's independent media has suffered an assassination attempt”. Paúl believes [21] [pt] that the crime's “early signs [pointed] an attempt of execution” and he does not discard [22] the possibility of an attack with a political connotation:

É muito cedo para falar em atentado com conotação política, uma hipótese que não pode ser desprezada, em face de Ricardo Gama criticar e denunciar diariamente os governos federal, assim como, o estadual e o municipal do Rio de Janeiro.

It is too early to talk about an attack with a political connotation, a hypothesis which can not be ignored concerning that Ricardo Gama daily criticizes and denounces the federal government, as well as state and municipal governments of Rio de Janeiro.

Blogosphere Solidarity

For some bloggers, such as Bruno Kazuhiro, from the blog Perspectiva (Perspective), the crime was [23] [pt] “clearly an attack on freedom of speech”.

A few hours after the attack, on Twitter João Carlos Caribé (@caribe [24]) showed [25] [pt] his solidarity:

A blogosfera precisa entender que somos todos Ricardo Gama, estamos todos sujeitos ao mesmo que ele, ou você tem duvida?

The blogosphere needs to understand that we are all Ricardo Gama, we are all vulnerable to what happened to him, or you still have any doubts?
"Dont touch the bloggers". A video of the protest on March 30 by coronelprpaulo on Youtube [26]

"Dont touch the bloggers". A video of the protest on March 30 by coronelprpaulo on Youtube

On the following day, March 25, Fernando Peregrino announced the creation of the movement “Don't touch the bloggers [27]” [pt], aiming to gather “everyone who maintains or reads blogs and now feels affected with the attempt of silencing one of us, the blogger Ricardo Gama!”. The movement had its first “civic-democratic act [28]” one week after the attack, on March 30, despite the restrictions [29] [pt] by Governor Sérgio Cabral.

On the following day, the 31st, Ricardo Gama was discharged [30] from the Hospital Copa D'or where he was hospitalized recovering from surgery. From the hospital he had given an interview [31] [pt] to a national newspaper promising he would start blogging again. Since the 31st of March, the blogger has been publishing almost daily still with visible wounds [32], and he keeps the promise [33] [pt]:

No mais esse blog em nada mudará, e vamos em frente.

Moreover this blog won't change, and we keep on going.

Reporters Without Borders issued a statement demanding [34] “a steady and deep investigation about the attack”. Meanwhile developments in the police investigation are awaited to determine whether this was “one more case of suffering and persecution of bloggers and journalists with sharp critical sense” as AF from the blog Mingau de Aço (Steel porridge) points out [35] [pt].

This post was proofread by Janet Gunter [36].