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A Chilling Effect on Media Investigations in Mozambique

Journalist Carlos Cardoso’s assassination silenced more voices than just his own. On Nov. 22, 2000, the day Carlos Cardoso died, the 48-year-old journalist left the offices of the Metical — the paper that both defined his career and ended his life — to watch a soccer game at home. Instead, it was his assassination that became a spectacle, for fellow commuters in rush-hour traffic in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo. The 49-year-old journalist, who was killed instantly when two men with AK-47s blocked the road and sprayed his vehicle with bullets, had become internationally renowned for his investigative reporting, earning Mozambique praise for being at the forefront of Africa’s free press. Cardoso’s death would not just silence his own voice but also those of others: Two years after his assassination, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported a chilling effect on media investigations in Mozambique. Born in Mozambique in 1951 to Portuguese parents, the journalist, poet and activist was keenly aware of the privileges his race afforded him. He launched himself into a life as a Marxist and activist in neighboring South Africa, where he studied at the University of Witwatersrand. During that time, the apartheid government deported Cardoso to Lisbon, for his activism and work as a translator for Frente de Libertação de Moçambique, the nationalist movement fighting for Mozambican independence from Portugal.