Born at Laigueglia, Liguria, he studied medicine at the University of Torino and at the University of Pavia. In 1826 he emigrated to Brazil, coming from Genova, shortly after the independence from Portugal, during the reign of Emperor Dom Pedro I (1822).
He went to live in the city of São Paulo, where he soon founded a liberal newspaper, O Observador Constitutional (The Constitutional Observer), in 1829; and taught courses in what was to become the Law School of São Paulo. Badaró had republican tendencies and used the newspaper to strongly criticise the political situation and the authoritarism of the Emperor. During a public manifestation of liberal students who were commemorating the liberal revolution in France which had deposed King Charles X, he was assassinated. The suspicions fell on Cândido Japiaçu, a member of the law courts, who felt he was being slandered by Badaró's paper. He was tried but no accusations could be proved against him. Some historians think that the assassination order came directly from the Emperor, but there is no proof for that, either.
His death was received with a great public revolt and outcry, and the Emperor was blamed. More than 5,000 people went to his funeral. This episode accelerated the end of his reign, leading a few months later to his abdication in favor of his son, Pedro II, who was only 5 years old, and the establishment of a regent's junta to govern the country until he became of age.
Líbero Badaró is considered a martyr of press freedom. A few days after the proclamation of the republic by General Deodoro da Fonseca, on November 15, 1889, he was honoured by a public ceremony and his body was transferred to another cemetery.
A journalism prize is named after him, as well as a street in São Paulo downtown (the old São José Street, where he lived until his death).
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