Brazilian Supreme Court denies appeal of journalist who denounced land grabbing in Amazon

In an article titled "Will the land grabbers win?" and published Saturday, Feb. 11, the editor of the Brazilian newspaper Jornal Pessoal, Lúcio Flávio Pinto, reported that the Supreme Court denied his appeal to a lawsuit filed by one of country´s largest construction companies and ordered the journalist to pay roughly $4,600 in moral damages, according to the website Socioambiental.

In 1999, the journalist denounced illegal land grabbing practiced by the owner of the construction company from Paraná, C. R. Almeida, in his independent newspaper. The journalist alleged the company had seized about 5 million hectares of land, along with ore and other natural resources in the Amazon region in the Xingu River Valley, in Pará. The federal police confirmed the land grabbing, but did not arrest the company's owner, because too much time had passed since the crime was committed, said Portal Imprensa.

Pinto, the only editor of Jornal Pessoal, has faced 33 lawsuits, and has been repeatedly threatened, for his constant reporting on corruption, illegal deforestation and illegal trade in wood.

"After suffering all kinds of violence, including physical acts of aggression, I know what awaits me. But I will not stop doing what I consider my duty: journalism. Those in power, however, especially in Pará's judicial system, want to see journalism destroyed, if it can't be controlled by those in charge of the public voice. We're going to investigate the process and appeal," said Pinto in his article.

After the news of the denied appeal, the journalist received support from fellow press members of various news websites and blogs, who were responding to the manifesto published on Ricardo Kotscho's blog, "Journalist threatened: We are all Lúcio Flávio." For example, journalist Raul Bastos emphasized the harassment by the courts, which have been becoming a censorship tool in Brazil. "The big problem is the systematic pressure placed on him by regional authorities for publishing materials that denounce indignities and bother precisely these same authorities. They have tried to silence him in various ways, from intimidation to aggression, and he has bravely resisted. The have tried to gag and silence him with 33 lawsuits," explained Bastos.