Press Memorandum: Brazil's Proposed New Press Law Darkens Lula's Presidency

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Council On Hemispheric Affairs

Monitoring Political, Economic and Diplomatic Issues Affecting the Western Hemisphere

Memorandum to the Press 04.67

Wednesday, 29 September, 2004

Word Count: 1400


Brazil’s Proposed New Press Law Darkens Lula’s Presidency

• Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is moving to enact a new press law calling for disturbing changes to the rules governing journalists that has some critics fearing a slow reversion to the era of dictatorship.

• Recent shake-ups in the Brazilian Press Association would allow the already powerful unions CUT and Fenaj to merge to form a new body based on their own fused agendas.

• This proposed new council is designed to accredit, regulate and censor all foreign and local journalists working in Brazil; it will have the power to impose penalties for violations and even ban journalists from practicing their profession altogether if the offense is serious enough.

• Despite this controversial proposal, Lula’s current popularity among Brazilians remains high. But the embarrassing incident involving a New York Times reporter last May, which is believed to have sparked the new legislation, has led other news organizations and groups both at home and abroad to be skeptical of the government’s intent.

On August 5, 2004, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva proposed a new measure that, if enacted, is sure to change the face of journalism as it is now practiced in the country. Calling for the creation of a Federal Council of Journalism, the new legislation would, at least theoretically, severely restrict the rights of journalists operating in Brazil. Serious consequences could befall any journalist who did not comply with a strict set of rules put forth by the Council. Critics of the law feel that Lula, elected on a progressive platform calling for social reform, is now resorting to some of the same restrictive practices routinely used by his predecessors who ruled during the country’s bleak epoch of military rule, 1964-85.


This analysis was prepared by Ashley Rasmussen, COHA Research Associate.

September 29, 2004

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