Note from BW of Brazil: It never fails to amaze how Brazil has for so many years been promoted as a cordial country free of racism. Since 2011, this little site has detailed countless examples of how this simply isn’t the case. This is not to say that people don’t have friendly conversations in bars, don’t enjoy cheering for their favorite futebol team or enjoying the beach. I’m simply saying that there is another side of the country that may come as a shock to foreigners who see Brazilians as simply friendly, good-natured people. As a matter of fact, futebol fields and beaches have been two of the country’s national pastimes in which rivalry, aggression and/or class/race distinction have reared their ugly heads more than a few times. In many ways, black Brazilians continue to see their country as a place rooted in the social hierarchy established by three and a half centuries of enslavement of Africans and their descendants.
Everyday Brazilians will continuously repeat the cliché that “we are all equal” or that “racism doesn’t exist in Brazil”, but for many Afro-Brazilians, this is often only true when they stay in “the place” that Brazilian society deems appropriate for them. This means, as long as they remain in the favela slums, keep cleaning/guarding the houses and taking care of the kids of white middle-class families or driving their bosses around, there’s no problem. But the minute these people start attending prestigious universities, taking flights (see here, here and here) and ritzy malls and doing other things that suggest a certain status, the society at large is quick to voice and show its discomfort. This is surely what was behind the recent experiences of four Afro-Brazilian politicians, three of them in Rio de Janeiro and another in the state of Minas Gerais. All four are members of PSOL party, which was the party of Marielle Franco, the Rio de Janeiro councilwoman whose execution in downtown Rio shocked the world in March of last year.
In Minas Gerais, Congresswoman Andréia de Jesus was the target of a racist comment on a social media platform. In Rio, recently elected Congresswoman Daniela Monteiro’s car was sprayed with threatening graffiti, Congresswoman Talíria Petrone, who has already been a target of death threats, was barred from an area exclusive to members of Congress, and in the most surprising turn of events, three term Congressman Jean Wyllys stepped down from his post in fear for his life after numerous death threats.
It is important to bear in mind three important factors as we consider the experiences of these parliamentarians. 1) It’s been nearly a year since the unsolved murder of Rio councilwoman Marielle Franco, in a professional assassination that sent shock waves around the world, and 2) the election of Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro and the rise open political intimidation and aggression among his supporters, and 3) recent reports that exposed possible links between the Bolsonaro, his politician son and militia groups which investigations show could be the culprits in Franco’s murder. Brazil has a long history of intolerance against Afro-Brazilians and their culture, and with the rise of a number of black political figures, might it be possible that displays of this backlash may get even more pronounced under the administration of a man who openly supports violence, murder and torture?
Congresswoman of Minas Gerais is targeted by racism and the perpetrator will be sued: ‘There will be free soap and shampoo’
By Rafael D’Oliveira
The state deputy elect Andréia de Jesus (PSOL) was a victim of racist attacks on social networks during the week. The offensive comments were made on a page of the event that the congresswoman participated in last Tuesday, known as “Terça à Esquerda” (Tuesday to the Left) in the neighborhood of Santa Monica, in the Venda Nova region.
According to the parliamentarian, one of the offensive comments concerned her appearance and that of the other guest of the event, the philosopher, Markim Cardoso. In the print registered by the deputy, one of the users said that “there will be soap and shampoo for free and a lecture on ‘hygiene, believe you can too.”
According to the congresswoman, other comments were excluded from the publication, however, her lawyers were able to register prints and will continue the action.
“This kind of behavior is linked to biased stereotypes. For example, women, blacks, peripherals, etc., are inferior and cannot occupy positions of power. This feeds these totalitarian and authoritarian stances that hinder the evolution of society. The elite don’t accept this type of advance and respond with this kind of prejudiced action,” said the congresswoman.
In addition to the formal denunciation to the authorities, the case is being followed up by the OAB-MG (Brazilian Bar Association of Minas Gerais) Racial Equality Commission and a group will be created to combat racism, in partnership with the agency and fronts of combat, to prevent actions of this type in the future.
Black congresswoman says she was barred in places “exclusive to members of Congress”
From the Twitter of the congresswoman Talíria Petrone, of the PSOL:
Our body really causes strangeness here in Congress. It’s still my first day and they’ve tried, sometimes, to stop me from going to places that are “exclusive to congresspeople.” They’ll have to get used to seeing black women walking around here.
– Taliria Petrone (@taliriapetrone) February 1, 2019
On her first day of work, Rio congresswoman has threatening graffiti sprayed on her car
Courtesy of Hypeness
Daniela Monteiro (PSOL-RJ) is one of the former advisors to councilwoman Marielle Franco, who was shot dead in downtown Rio de Janeiro last March in an unresolved crime. On the first day of her work at the Rio Legislative Assembly, she had her car sprayed with death threats.
“We will not be intimidated,” wrote the parliamentarian on social networks.
Dani says the car spent all day in one of the official parking spots of Alerj, in the Palácio Tiradentes (Tiradentes Palace), downtown region of Rio de Janeiro.
Another female member of parliament threatened with death in Brazil
“It is unfortunate to receive such threats on the day I take office. Another proof of the fragility of democracy these days,” she protested.
The parliamentarian is in her first term and although she didn’t reveal the threat, she registered the case with the police and Security and House Presidency were informed of the incident.
She received messages of support in the social networks from people like the federal deputies Talíria Petrone (PSOL-RJ) and Áurea Carolina (PSOL-MG).
My friend and state deputy Dani Monteiro had her car cowardly sprayed with threats on her first day in office in Alerj. What is this democracy that intimidates elected parliamentarians? We are together, @ danimontpsol.
– Talirria Petrone (@taliriapetrone) February 4, 2019
On her 1st day at Alrj, Congresswoman Dani Monteiro had her car sprayed with threats. A cowardly attempt to silence an elected parliamentarian, a black woman and of the struggle. All our solidarity, companion! We are together. ✊🏿💜
– Aurea Carolina (@aureacarolinax) February 5, 2019
Since the death of Marielle Franco in March 2018, the number of threats against parliamentarians has grown alarmingly. Not long ago Jean Wyllys, once again elected federal deputy for Rio, resigned from the position. The journalist listed death threats against him and his family. “I want to stay alive.”
Marcelo Freixo (PSOL-RJ) escaped a fatal ambush. The plan was to kill Freixo in Campo Grande, where he would fulfill his work schedule. Police believe in the involvement of a military police and two merchants linked to the militia group in the city’s West Zone.
“Within the limits of the possible, we have a policy and protocols of security well delimited by the teams of the deputies of the bench of the Psol, the party itself and Alerj. Safety first”, Dani told the newspaper O Dia.
At the end of February, when we were inaugurated in the ALERJ, we found our car – parked all day in the official space of the Palácio Tiradentes – threatened. All security and verification measures are being taken. We will not be intimidated!
– Dani Monteiro (@danimontpsol) February 4, 2019
Death threats lead Jean Wyllys to give up his mandate to leave Brazil
Since the murder of councilwoman Marielle Franco, re-elected in the last election, the congressman lives under police escort due to increasing harassment
By Heloísa Mendonça
Re-elected Federal congressman Jean Wyllys (PSOL-RJ) announced on Thursday that he will not take on his new mandate because he has received several death threats in recent months and now fears for his own life. In his Twitter account, Wyllys thanked voters for their support and said preserving his integrity is also a form of struggle. “We did a lot for the common good. And we will do much more when the new time comes, no matter what we do by other means! Thank you to all of you with all my heart. Axé!” he wrote.
The post was published after the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper published an interview in which the congressman revealed that he would leave public office and Brazil after successive threats. Since the murder of councilwoman Marielle Franco in March of last year, the parliamentarian has been living under police escort.
If he took office, this would be his third consecutive parliamentary term, in which he was elected with just over 24,000 votes. Wyllys was the first openly gay parliamentarian to take on the LGBT cause in Congress. The vacancy left by him will be assumed by David Miranda (PSOL-RJ), according to the website of the Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies). Miranda also has LGBT issues as his cause.
In an interview with Folha, Wyllys said that in his decision the information that relatives of a former Military Police soldier suspected of leading the militia being investigated for Marielle’s death worked for senator-elect Flávio Bolsonaro during his tenure as a state deputy for Rio de Janeiro. “I am terrified to learn that the President’s son hired the wife and mother of the hired assassin in his office,” he told the newspaper. “The president who always slandered me, who always insulted me openly, who always used homophobia against me. This environment is not safe for me,” he added.
The congressman also said that since Jair Bolsonaro was elected, the level of violence against him and minorities has increased. Wyllys was one of Bolsonaro’s biggest rivals in the federal chamber and confronted him directly when the now-president paid homage to Colonel Brilhante Ustra, ex-president Dilma Rousseff’s torturer under the country’s 21-year military dictatorship, during the vote on her impeachment in 2016. After Bolsonaro’s speech, Wyllys spat at him.
The recent threats by Wyllys have prompted the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to request the Brazilian Government to take measures to protect his life and investigate the threats. “The decision of the IACHR is a reaction of the international community to the inaction of the Brazilian State in the face of a situation that has been prolonged in time and which, in the last year, has become much worse,” the congressman told EL PAÍS in December last year.