Note from BBT: A pandemic can’t cover up the facts. Of course, we all know how much our daily lives have been affected by the effects of Covid-19, which in many ways have caused us to turn our attention away from other facts, problems and information. As I became immersed in the study of the black experience in Brazil, there were several things that were simply so mind-blowing that it was simply difficult to believe.
For example, as much as black Americans have learned about the cruel realities of slavery in the US, it seems to have paled in comparison to what happened in Brazil. While the American system seemed to want to exploit the labor of the enslaved as long as possible thus allowing the slave to live into old age, in Brazil, it seems slave masters preferred to work a slave to death and just replace him/her with another body.
In some eras of slavery in Brazil, the enslaved were only expected to last 8-10 years before death. One of the main reasons for this grim reality was that the coast of Africa was much closer to the coast of Brazil than the coast of the United States, which meant less travel time across the ocean and cheaper labor. For this reason, Brazil imported more than 10 times more enslaved African than the US. Well, if we are to believe what we’ve been told.
Other shocking data is the alarming number of violent deaths in Brazil, both as a result of everyday crime as well as assassinations by both police and death squads. Between 1980 and 2010, Brazil recorded 1,091,125 murders and in the past decade, the country’s total intentional homicides have been consistently between the 50,000-70,000 mark.
To put these numbers into perspective, consider that, in the United States the homicide rate per 100,000 people is 5.30. In Brazil, it is 30.50! And if these numbers consider all homicides or intentional murders, we can expect that the data involving police is as bad or worse. When we break the numbers down further by race, we can see what type of people Brazil clearly prefers to put six feet under.
The numbers show this. Between the years 2008 and 2018, non-whites have been consistently murdered at rates that are double to 2.5 times higher than white Brazilians. On average, over that period, while the homicide rates of white Brazilians is 15.4%, for black and brown Brazilians, it’s 37.4%.
To tell you the truth, although those are the official numbers, I tend the think they are probably even worse in terms of race. As racial classification can be so skewed in Brazil because there is often confusion on what constitutes black/brown or white, it is easy to imagine that some victims of murder who should be classified as black or brown may have been listed as white.
Anyway, that’s how I see it. Brazilian elites have always divided the general population into the category of “desirables” and “undesirables”. It’s no secret. So in reality, in a country that has repeatedly shown its preference for whiteness, what color would we expect the bodies filling up morgues to be?
I’ve said this for years, but don’t take my word for it. Check out what a report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) had to say on the topic.
For the OAS Inter-American Commission, Brazil is racist and exterminates its “undesirables”
Report highlights President Bolsonaro’s dismantling of human rights policies in Brazil
Courtesy of Brasil de Fato
New report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) is definitive about Brazil: the country is racist, practices “social cleansing, exterminating its undesirables”, in addition to maintaining a structure of discrimination against the most vulnerable social strata.
In 200 pages of harsh criticism, the OAS Inter-American Commission, a multilateral body dedicated to human rights on the continent, points to structural problems in the country and hundreds of failures by the Brazilian State, due to “omission, inefficiency or direct action by governments”.
The document also points out that Brazil practices and allows “historical discrimination” citing confirmed episodes of deaths and impunity linked to police violence throughout its territory. The Commission considers the high numbers of homicides of black people to be “alarming”. The report recalls that 73.1% of the 618,000 homicides registered in the country, between 2007 and 2017, were committed against black men.
The OAS classifies state violence against the black population as a “social cleansing process designed to exterminate sectors that are considered undesirable, with the consent of the state”. “The last few years, by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, show that the police approach is done in a ‘selective, discretionary and subjective way, not very porous to public control or regulation’”, points out the text.
Ariel de Castro Alves, a lawyer, a specialist in Human Rights and Public Security, says that the report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights highlights the disruption of human rights policies promoted by the current government.
“The OAS is mainly concerned with the increase in racism, violence against women and other vulnerable groups, such as LGBT and indigenous people. Increased persecution and aggression against social activists and human rights defenders. The violence against journalists and the expansion of police brutality against young people, the poor and blacks, which has the connivance of sectors of the Judiciary,” he said.
The OAS Commission’s analysis of Brazil is particularly emphatic in relation to racism, discrimination and gender-based violence. A phenomenon described as “engines of a historical and perverse cycle of inequality, poverty and crimes”.
According to the organization, the country gives invisibility and denies the identity of the quilombola population, as the State “doesn’t have exact data neither on the size of this population, nor on the characteristics of its members”. “The denial of the historical, cultural identity and rights of these people is the result of structural racial discrimination to which they have always been subjected in Brazil,” warns the OAS.
Discrimination, the report says, also affects indigenous people. On one of the pages, the organization recalls that there are more than 100 bills in progress in the National Congress that aim to restrict indigenous rights, especially in matters of land demarcation.
The Commission has also detected a weakening of environmental licensing policies and institutions, which has a direct impact on the rights of indigenous peoples. The report emphasizes to the State “that the ethnic-racial discrimination suffered by indigenous peoples has led these people to be exposed to diverse violations, such as the violence experienced in the territories by illegal groups of extraction of natural resources, as well as the absence of a robust policy that guarantees these populations adequate access to their economic, social, cultural and environmental rights”.
President Jair Bolsonaro is not mentioned by name, but the report criticizes several policies adopted by his government, such as facilitating access to firearms. According to the agency, Bolsonaro’s arms policy would increase criminality, in addition to “undermining citizens’ confidence in the State and deepening historical fissures in the social fabric”.
“The Commission sees with extreme concern the attempts by the State to expand, through the use of presidential decrees, the access of Brazilians to firearms, which could, in addition, exponentially increase the violence perpetrated against women”, emphasizes the entity.
In the report, the Inter-American Commission also expresses concern regarding Bolsonaro’s denial of the military dictatorship in Brazil and torture, condemning the “denial of this historical past by the Brazilian State” and the impunity of the “most crimes” committed in the period.
“The IACHR reiterates its special concern with Presidential Decree No. 9.831, of June 10, 2019, which determined the removal of members of the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Combat of Torture and, consequently, the execution of its mandate in favor of the protection of people deprived of their liberty”, warned the text.
The agency also criticizes the measures taken by the Bolsonaro government, such as the extinction of the Ministry of Labor, “which could weaken efforts to eradicate labor under conditions similar to slavery and child labor”. Since Bolsonaro’s inauguration until the end of last year, Brazil had been the target of more than 45 public criticisms, petitions and recommendations, in addition to the special report being finalized. In no other government has Brazil been the target of so many calls.
Women and LGBTQI +
Femicides, more frequently among black women, are also raised by the Inter-American Commission. The agency reports that it has received a series of complaints about worsening levels of violence against women.
According to the OAS, “the mere recognition of violence against women as a public problem, and not as a matter of private relations, took decades to occur in Brazil”.
The Commission also reiterated recommendations on the importance of “promoting laws and public policies that seek, through human rights education, to address and eliminate structural prejudices, historical discrimination, as well as stereotypes and false concepts about women”. Machismo and misogyny in Brazil, according to the OAS, continue to relegate women to a secondary position in the economy and public affairs.
On another page, the entity also observes a “downward trend in the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTI people in the country”, as well as “the increased use of hate speech and that tend to increase the rates of attacks against people different sexual orientations and gender identities”.
The report makes reference to Bolsonarism, citing the performance of “one of the candidates for the presidency of Brazil” in October 2017, and revisits the controversy surrounding an educational booklet about diversity created to combat bullying in schools that has become pejoratively known as a “gay kit”.
“Brazil continues to record extremely high rates of violence against LGBTI people, especially lesbians and trans women; and that, as a rhetoric of “defense of the family” and traditions gains traction within society, several rights of these people are under threat”, points out the report.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ends the text with a series of recommendations “to consolidate a system for the promotion and protection of human rights, in accordance with the commitments assumed by the State in the inter-American and international spheres.”
Source: Brasil de Fato