On the evening of Wednesday, May 8, investigative reporter Lourenso Véras received threatening text messages saying that he was on a list of people to executed in the frontier region between Brazil and Paraguay, according to the website Mercosur News.
Véras works as a press officer for the City Council of Ponta Porã and is a photojournalist for the website Pedrojuannews in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero, two cities known for their hostility to journalists. So far this year there have been several killings in the region, including radio station owner Juan Arístides Martínez in January; the owner of the radio station Sin Fronteras 98.5 FM, Marcelino Vázquez, in February; and radio journalist Carlos Artaza in April. Three Brazilian journalists were killed in 2012.
Léo Véras, as he is known, claimed that the text messages said that he was on a "black list" and would be the first killed, just like in the police reports he writes, according to Pedrojuannews. Besides the journalist, four others were threatened in the same way, including officials and their families. All the threats originated from the same cellphone number.
The photojournalist believes that whoever sent the threats was unhappy about an article published in a Brazilian outlet titled "Senator and judge have dangerous relationship in the frontier," which details the life of authorities who fight against organized crime, reported MidiaMax. Véras said in the report that a witness accused one of the supposed crime fighters of being behind the killing of journalist Carlos Artaza.
After the threats, Véras filed a complaint with the Pedro Juan police.
According to the website ADN Digital, organized crime in northern Paraguay is fond of using disposable cellphone chips to threaten journalist and authorities. The chips are usually bought under false names, maintaining the anonymity of the criminal.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.