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  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at a swearing-in ceremony for the country's new army commander in Brasilia, Brazil Jan. 11, 2019.

    Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at a swearing-in ceremony for the country's new army commander in Brasilia, Brazil Jan. 11, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 January 2019

Rio de Janeiro State and Labor Party representative Martha Rocha was nearly killed Sunday as 4 armed men opened fire on her car. Rocha was not hurt. 

An assassination attempt took place on a Brazilian labor party legislator Martha Rocha Sunday in Rio de Janeiro as several armed men opened fire on the car she was riding. Rocha got away physically unscathed but the driver of the vehicle, former legislator Geonisio Medeiros was shot in the lower leg.

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Local reports say that an unidentified vehicle blocked the Rio representative's car when at least four hitmen exited the vehicle and rained bullets on Rocha’s car while in the historic Penha neighborhood.  

Medeiros was taken to a local hospital but has already been released.

This is Rocha’s second term in the Rio de Janeiro State Assembly. She was also the first woman to head the Rio de Janeiro State Civil Police.

There is no information regarding any suspects but the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro (ALERJ) released a statement saying that it “expects the case to be urgently investigated and that those responsible be arrested and punished.

Martha Rocha, 59, created the Specialized Commissions for the Care of Women (Deam).

Political violence has been ramping up since last March when Rio municipal council member  Marielle Franco was gunned down in the sprawling city. Franco was an Afro-Brazilian lesbian and socialist councilwoman highly critical of police violence and the right-wing government under former President Michel Temer. Her killing sparked international outrage and attention toward the level of violence that human rights defenders encounter in Brazil. 

Rights defenders are even more at risk, when after just days into new President Jair Bolsonaro's term, the far-right leader removed longstanding protections for Indigenous people, restrictions against farming, mining and logging in the rainforest, and took the country out of the recently signed 'Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration' (GCM).

Bolsonaro also said he would "purge Brazil from communism." Rocha is a member of the Brazil's Labor Party. 

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