Note from BW of Brazil: Last month, millions of Brazilians took to the streets in protest to a number of issues affecting everyday citizens. But within those historic protests that showed that the Brazilian masses are willing to fight for the betterment of their country, a another massacre in a poor community begged the question of whom the fight was/is for and whose very existence is worth fighting for. This is how Global Post reported the latest in a long line of bloody atrocities:
Brazil protests: Rio favela police operation leaves nine dead
by Jill Langlois
At least nine people are dead after a gun battle broke out in a Rio de Janeiro favela between BOPE police and drug dealers, following a protest against an operation by the special forces. The clashes started on Monday evening (June 24th) in the northern neighborhood of Bonsucesso after a peaceful demonstration against a BOPE operation in the nearby Complexo da Maré favela. The protests reportedly ended in mass robberies near Rio’s main access road, Avenida Brasil. Hundreds of officers from the police and National Guard were deployed, along with a tank, to secure the area.
Nine people were also arrested during the confrontation, which lasted into the early morning hours Tuesday. Edson Ezequiel Bezerril, 28, was arrested for allegedly killing BOPE Sergeant Ednelson Jeronimo dos Santos Silva, 42, during the exchange of gunfire. Rodrigo da Silva, 28, was arrested for drug trafficking and assault with a deadly weapon. Police said protesters, passers-by and shops had been robbed by a group of criminals, who they followed into the Maré favela after they left Avenida Brasil.
The clashes took place inside the favela, where the BOPE sergeant was killed. A civilian returning home was shot in the head after being caught in the crossfire, and another seven civilians also died. Local schools remained closed on Tuesday (June 25th), keeping thousands of children home. The Maré area is home to more than 130,000 people and has yet to be the subject of the Rio police’s pacification program (UPPs), which works to encourage favela residents to push out drug traffickers.
Note from BW of Brazil: The aftermath of the violence in Maré would put the death toll of the incident in Maré at thirteen. In reaction to the latest assault in a Rio de Janeiro favela, the Liga Estratégia Revolucionária (Revolutionary Strategy League) released a piece detailing the community’s sentiments, the involvement of political parties and student unions and factors that influence the regular stampeding of rights in periphery areas.
RJ: Governor Cabral’s Police kill 13 people and trample all civil rights of Maré residents
By Leandro Ventura
Killer Cabral! While protesters in lower-middle-class neighborhood proceed, police kill 13 in Complexo da Maré
Since Monday, June 24th, the most murderous police of the country, Rio de Janeiro state governor Sérgio Cabral’s police, embarked on an operation of murder, repression and systematic disregard of constitutional rights formally guaranteed by the bourgeois state on the communities of Complexo da Maré (1)
After a peaceful demonstration being repressed in Bonsucesso (2) with allegations of looting, the police went to the Maré neighborhood in an operation of systematic repression and murder. With the same allegations, these police took revenge for the death of a BOPE (Batalhão de Operações Especiais or Special Operations Battalion) (3) sergeant killing 13 residents of the community. The media and the government soon mislabeled all Maré protesters as being associated with drug trafficking and hoodlums. With this claim the rifle was opened fire to hit any resident, but especially young blacks.
At dawn on Tuesday when residents could see some light (because in this mega-operation the lights of the whole community were cut off at least until the early hours of Wednesday) the entire complex was besieged with troops, helicopters and tanks. Demonstrations by residents denouncing police violence and the killings were suppressed, prevented from coming to Avenida Brasil.
The Maré murders occurred under the protection of the media and the parties supporting Cabral (PT, PCdoB) (4) and mass organizations that they direct (CUT, CTB, UNE, UEE-RJ) (5). This latest massacre so far has not led to even one note from these entities. The brutal abuse and disrespect for civil rights in the slums are applauded by the entire bourgeoisie criminalizing all as “criminals”. In Maré there is no right of association, or demonstration, there is no right to inviolability of the home because the police with collective security mandates (a legal excrescence because this is of the individual sphere) breaks into houses. In these houses the police commit known of theft, torture and even rape. There are resident reports of murders being committed by police with armas brancas (white weapons) (6) in order to make any ballistic analysis (inexistent) difficult to be able to criminalize them.
The news of this barbaric and murderous operation came to the plenary of the “Fórum de Luta contra o Aumento (Combating the Increase Forum)” which met yesterday in IFCS in downtown Rio. There, thousands of young protesters came in solidarity and many argued that Thursday’s act had as its theme police violence and that its trajectory was changed to go to Maré. Thousands (at least 5,000 came together yesterday) continuing peacefully.
We must show solidarity. The repression we suffered in downtown Rio and every act is exponentially increased in the hills and slums. While at least three protesters were arrested following the last acts in Bangu (7), thirteen residents are slaughtered and vilified by governments, the media and the bourgeoisie in general. While making a state of siege in central Rio like last Thursday, there in Maré demonstrations are directly prohibited. It is necessary to defeat the naturalization of police murder in the favela (slum). It’s not only the commentator for Globo (TV network), Rodrigo Pimentel, but all the media that says these types of things: “Rifles should be used in war, police operations in communities and favelas (slums). It is not a weapon to be used in urban areas.”
We must put a stop to this naturalization. The favela is part of the city and its residents have a right to life.
Defeating this naturalization will not come from the hands of the Cabral government or the PT and PCdoB that supports it, much less Tucanos (8) and Democrats (9). The police cannot be “humanized”, it exists to defend the interests of the bourgeoisie and to repress workers, hunt and kill blacks. Thus, with this objective, it appeared in Brazil (for hunting “runaways” in Imperial Rio) and so it survives with its benefits for death (as occurred in the 1990s and benefits for working in the UPPs (10).
What happens today in Maré is preparation for the installation of a UPP. The impediment of demonstrations is precisely the reason of the existence of the UPP as we from the LER-QI (Liga Estratégia Revolucionária – Revolutionary Strategy League) have denounced for years. The UPPS are, to the contrary of its citizen discourse, a machine for the repression of the poor, workers and blacks. Its ratio of police to population is 80 per 1 (greater than the Palestinians front to “their” occupation army, the army of Israel, there the proportion is 100-1). There is no social UPP possible, as Friexo and other members of the PSOL (11) want. UPPs are murderers and repression. Humanized repression and killings are still repression and killings!
The UPPs are part of a city project and of a country that we need to defeat; a militarized, privatized city with no right to protest in order to ensure the interests of FIFA and the Eike Batistas (12). While the state of Rio has a budget of R$4.9 billion (US$2.18 billion) for public safety, their education budget is R$4.2 billion (US$1.87 billion). It spends more on rifles than schools.
It’s necessary to fight so that the youth movement group that takes to the streets, in assemblies, in their places of work and study that we speak in a loud and clear tone: Punish those guilty of this massacre! Down with the genocide of black people and morros and favelas (hills and slums)! Down with the UPPs! For the dissolution of all the police!
Note from BW of Brazil: A report after the massacre was released that would identify seven of the residents that were murdered as having had previous criminal records. This is a report from Exame magazine.
In Maré, 7 killed had criminal records
Two of the nine civilians killed in the BOPE operation in Complexo da Maré, in Rio on Monday, June 24th, had no criminal record
Two of the nine civilians killed in the BOPE operation in Complexo da Maré, in northern Rio, Monday, 24, had no criminal history: the waiter Eraldo dos Santos da Silva, 35 and shoeshiner Jonatha Farias da Silva, 16. BOPE Sergeant, Ednelson Jerome Silva dos Santos, 42, also died in action, shot in the head, allegedly fired by drug traffickers.
The other seven victims had previous criminal records according to the Civil Police. André Gomes de Souza Júnior, 18, had a prior record for theft. Fabrício Souza Gomes, 28, had three priors for murder, and trafficking, firearms and personal injury. Against him there was a temporary arrest warrant. Carlos Eduardo Silva Pinto, 23, had prior records for attempted murder, car theft and personal injury. His record also shows him as the victim of an assassination attempt in 2012.
José Everton Silva de Oliveira, 21, had priors including illegal possession of a weapon and robbery with death when he was a minor. Ademir da Silva Lima, 29, had a criminal record for drug trafficking and trafficking association, also when he was a minor. As an adult, had a prior record of murder, robbery and theft.
Renato Alexandre Mello da Silva, 39, had seven priors for theft, one for trafficking, one for theft and one for possession of drugs. He had already served time in the prison system. Roberto Rodrigues Alves had three priors for theft and another for burglary.
Note from BW of Brazil: In several pieces featured on this blog, there has been very strong evidence to suggest that not only is there a state-sponsored reign of terror going on in poor neighborhoods throughout Brazil, evidence points to the policy being drawn up by a think tank several years ago. So, what’s really going on in Brazil, the nation that continues to spend billions of dollars in preparation for the 2014 World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympics? Is this how Brazil treats its people? Is the report released detailing the criminal records of seven of the victims of the massacre supposed to be justification for the “Wild, Wild, West” styled tactics of Brazil’s police? Rather than addressing issues such as social inequality/exclusion, a failing public school system and racism that clearly play a role in the choices individuals make, the solution is just to kill them all? And what about those who are innocent? Eraldo dos Santos da Silva and Jonatha Farias da Silva are not the only persons with no previous criminal records that have been senselessly murdered in this so-called war on drug trafficking. And the Maré incident is simply the latest in a long history of Brazil’s police entering favela communities and “shooting first and asking questions later.”
The Vigário Geral massacre occurred at dawn on August 30, 1993. On the occasion, 21 people from the community, all with no criminal record, were executed by a group of 50 masked men, armed with machine guns, shotguns, pistols and grenades, which invaded the favela shooting the first people they saw. A massacre was motivated by the death of four soldiers of the Nono Batalhão da Polícia Militar (Ninth Military Police Battalion), who had been killed the day before, in the Praça Catolé do Rocha, one of the entrances to the favela. The victims were killed, mostly with shots to the head. This led police to believe that the group was formed by Military Police, who went to the slums to avenge the death of colleagues.
In October of 1994, 13 people were killed in a Civil Police invasion in the Nova Brasília favela of the Complexo do Alemão area of north zone Rio. Of the 13 victims, only three had previous criminal records. Then there was the March 31st, 2005 bloodbath in which 29 people were murdered in the Baixada Fluminense area of Rio. Police chief José Augusto Moreira Felipe was sentenced to 542 years in prison for this massacre involving the actions of five military police. None of the 29 people murdered had previous criminal records. In December, 2007, in the city of Simões Filho in the northeastern state of Bahia, four people were executed with shots in the neck by hooded, supposed police in a bar. None of the victims had previous criminal records although three were drug users. The murders had characteristics of a death squad and were carried out with 9mm pistols, weapons used exclusively by the Armed Forces.
As reported here in other posts, many members of death squads in Brazil are often off duty Military Police officers. These are just a few of countless examples of execution styled murders of the population by police forces or death squads in the past few decades. But why is it that these types of assassinations are never carried out in whiter, middle-upper class neighborhoods, often times the source of the persons who buy drugs from the poorer communities? As Marcos Carneiro Lima, chief of the Civil Police in São Paulo put it, “We never had a massacre in the Jardins area here in São Paulo. Why is that? Because it is so easy to kill the poor in the periphery. Why is there still a large portion of society that thinks killing the poor in society is killing tomorrow’s marginal. This is a biased view of the very society that sees this action of killing as a legitimate action,” he said.
The massacres featured above are just a handful of famous and lesser known mass murders that have routinely occurred throughout Brazil over the past few decades. This doesn’t even include the infamous Candelária massacre of 1993 that made world headlines when eight young people were killed by a group of men, several of which were members of the police. The men were tried for the killings, but only two of them were convicted. The 20th anniversary of this massacre is July 23rd. This also doesn’t include the countless lesser known or smaller number of victim assassinations that have occurred over the years (for example here, here, here and here). With these brutal facts in mind, a few questions come to mind: 1) Is this acceptable behavior for a country that was named host of two huge media events such as the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics? 2) If this how it treats its population when there weren’t such huge events coming, how will this treatment intensify as the dates for these events get closer? 3) Where are the massive protests over the lives of these people that are routinely killed primarily due to their social circumstances (majority black and poor and inhabitants of the favelas)? In reality, is it even shocking when poor, black people (particularly young males) are killed? In reality, we already know the answer to this question.
In conclusion, the rate of murders that happen in Brazil in general as well as those committed by police and death squads are the types of numbers that are associated with a country at war. The massacre in Maré was just the latest in a long line of slaughters that show that Brazil has problems and issues to deal with that will continue long after the World Cup and Olympics have ended. But with world headlines consistently focused on turmoil in the Middle East and in the US, one must ask, who really cares? Brazil, do YOU even care?
- Neighborhood in the north zone of the Rio de Janeiro with about 130,000 residents
- Neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro with about 18,000 residents
- The exploits of the unit became recognized worldwide in the film Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad). See here
- Partido Comunista do Brasil or the Communist Party of Brazil and the Partido dos Trabalhadores or Workers Party which is the party of the previous president (Lula da Silva) and the current president of Brazil, Dilma Rouseff
- Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) or Unified Workers’ Central, the main national trade union center in Brazil. Central dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras do Brasil (CTB Central of Male and Female Workers of Brazil), União Nacional dos Estudantes (UNE) or National Students’ Union. União Estadual dos Estudantes (UEE) do Rio de Janeiro or State Union of Students of Rio de Janeiro.
- Referring to axes, knives and hammers
- A lower-middle-class neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, RJ located in the western area of the city. It is one of the most populated districts with more than 244,000 residents
- The Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira, PSDB or Brazilian Social Democracy Party is a centrist political party. Originally a centre-left party (with social-democratic intentions, though they never held any actual strength in the unions) at the time of its foundation, PSDB moved to the centre after Fernando Henrique Cardoso forged an alliance with the right-wing Liberal Front Party and was elected President of Brazil in the 1990s. The third largest party in the National Congress, PSDB has been the main opposition against the administrations of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. Its mascot is a blue and yellow colored toucan; party members are called tucanos for this reason. The current governor of the state of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, is a tucano. Source: Wiki.
- The Democratas or Democrats is a centre-right political party in Brazil, considered the main party within the right-wing spectrum. It was founded in 1985 under the name of Liberal Front Party (Partido da Frente Liberal, PFL) from a dissidence of the defunct Democratic Social Party (PDS), successor to the National Renewal Alliance (Arena), the official party during the military dictatorship of 1964-1985. Source: Wiki
- The Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, Pacifying Police Unit or Police Pacification Unit), abbreviated UPP, is a law enforcement and social services program pioneered in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which aims at reclaiming territories, more commonly favelas, controlled by gangs of drug dealers. The program was created and implemented by State Public Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame, with the backing of Rio Governor Sérgio Cabral. The stated goal of Rio’s government is to install 40 UPPs by 2014. Source: Wiki
- Marcelo Freixo is a Brazilian professor and politician. He is in the second year of his second term as state representative for the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade or Socialism and Freedom Party.
- Eike Batista is a Brazilian business magnate who made a fortune in mining and oil and gas exploration. Presently, he is the chairman of Brazilian conglomerate EBX Group. His net worth in 2013 is estimated to be US$2.2 billion.