Little done in Brazil to improve safety after fire

May 23, 2013

AP/ABC News, 05/23/2013

Little has been done to improve the safety of public gathering places since a nightclub fire killed 242 people earlier this year in southern Brazil, relatives of the victims said Wednesday.

The relatives met in Brasilia to discuss what safety measures have been adopted in Brazil since the Jan. 27 fire that destroyed the Kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria.

“Almost nothing has been done to improve the safety of nightclubs,” said Adherbal Alves Ferreira, whose 22-year-old daughter, Jennefer, perished in the fire. “We need more vigorous laws and demand they be followed and obeyed.”

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Brazil: Counterterror team at Confederations Cup

April 23, 2013

AP/ABC News, 04/22/2013

An officer in the Brazilian army’s counterterrorism division says about 600 soldiers will be taking part in security operations during the upcoming Confederations Cup.

The G1 news website quoted Col. Richard Fernandez Nunes on Monday as saying an additional 250 specialists in identifying threats from chemical, biological and nuclear threats will be also conducting sweeps during the June 15-30 football tournament.

The six Brazilian cities hosting Confederations Cup matches will each be assigned a counterterrorism team. Brazil is also hosting next year’s World Cup, and Nunes says all 12 of the tournament’s host cities will have such teams.

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More delays in Brazil air force upgrades

April 9, 2013

UPI, 04/09/2013

Piecemeal upgrades to Brazilian air force inventory are threatening to overshadow the Latin American country’s most important — and most delayed — plan to discard aging war jets and replace them with a brand-new inventory.

Brazilian military analysts say the defense establishment’s perceived priorities are not receiving the attention they deserve from President Dilma Rousseff’s administration.

Brazilian air force plans to upgrade its fighting capability have been stymied by delays over the acquisition of new fighter jets.

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Brazil safety concerns rise after arrest of police officers and gang rape on bus

April 4, 2013

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 04/02/2013

Brazil‘s efforts to improve public safety ahead of the football World Cup and the Olympics have taken two high-profile hits in recent days with the arrests of eight police officers in São Paulo and news of the rape and robbery of tourists in Rio de Janeiro.

The officers were arrested after a television broadcast showed two teenagers being shot dead on 16 March in the Bras neighbourhood of São Paulo, while the occupants of a nearby patrol car did nothing to help.

One of the victims – a 14 year old known as Piui who collected paper and cardboard from the streets – was shot six times. The other victim, whose name has not been disclosed, was shot 12 times.

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After Fire, Some Brazilians Fault a Nation’s Sense of Fatalism

January 31, 2013

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 01/29/2013

SANTA MARIA, Brazil — First there was the shock over the chaotic nightclub fire here that killed more than 230 people, many of them promising university students. Then there was the grief as families began burying their dead.

Now the soul-searching has begun, as Brazilians here and abroad ask how such a tragedy could have occurred in the first place.

“This is the most senseless thing I can imagine,” said José Joel Canto, 64, a retired railroad worker whose daughter, Natana, a 21-year-old law student, died in the blaze early Sunday morning. “One minute my daughter is dancing, having some fun with friends — the next minute they are dead. I simply cannot comprehend it.”

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A night of tragedy

January 30, 2013

The Economist, 01/27/2013

THE death toll from a fire that broke out in the early hours of January 27th in a Brazilian nightclub has already reached 232, with more than 100 injured, many severely. Almost all the victims were young; the nightclub, Kiss, in the university town of Santa Maria in the far southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, was popular with students. Most of the deaths were from smoke inhalation and asphyxiation.

Some survivors were flown to neighbouring cities, including the state capital, Porto Alegre, for treatment. A sports centre in Santa Maria was hastily turned into a makeshift morgue. It is customary in Brazil for burials to be held within 24 hours of death; the high death toll may mean mass funerals too.

Questions are being asked about the quality of the nightclub building and whether emergency procedures were followed. The blaze appears to have been started by a pyrotechnic flare lit on stage by a member of the band; sound-proofing material caught fire, producing toxic gases which quickly overpowered many in the crowd. Police said that at least one exit was blocked. Television stations broadcast images of firefighters, helped by bystanders, breaking through a wall to get in. Some of the victims were found in the bathrooms, possibly because they mistook them for emergency exits, and were then unable to come back out through the panicked crowds.

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FIFA allays World Cup safety fears

December 14, 2012

ESPN, 12/13/2012

FIFA insists there should be no concerns about security at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in the wake of the violent scenes that marred the Copa Sudamericana final.

Sao Paulo were crowned champions of the continental competition on Wednesday after Argentinian side Tigre refused to take to the field for the second half of the second leg in Brazil,claiming they were threatened at gunpoint by security officials at the Estadio do Morumbi, which was overlooked as a host stadium for the World Cup.

Tigre’s refusal to restart the game followed angry confrontations between players from both clubs as they exited the field at half-time with Sao Paulo leading 2-0.

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Brazil: dozens of police officers arrested, accused of taking bribes

December 5, 2012

CNN, 12/05/2012

Brazilian authorities arrested dozens of police officers on Tuesday, accusing them of taking bribes from drug traffickers.

The 61 officers were paid to turn a blind eye to criminal activity in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state, state public safety officials said. Investigators were still searching for two other officers suspected of involvement.

An investigation revealed that the officers had received payments of 2,500 reals (about $1,200) every time they patrolled certain communities, the state-run Agencia Brasil said, citing authorities.

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Reports: 31 dead over weekend in Sao Paulo as crime wave rises

November 13, 2012

AP/Washington Post, 11/12/2012

Brazilian media are reporting that at least 31 people have been murdered in Sao Paulo in the last three days.

A police spokeswoman says the reported figure is accurate, though she says she has no official statistics.

Early Monday, at least one bus torched was torched in the city.

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Death toll mounts in Brazil as police face down gangs

November 13, 2012

John Lyons – The Wall Street Journal, 11/11/2012

At least 140 people have been killed in the past two weeks amid a deadly confrontation between police and a gang that controls much of São Paulo city’s trade in crack cocaine, state authorities said, prompting some schools and shops to close early in sprawling city outskirts.

Nearly 1,000 homicides have been reported in São Paulo this year, according to state officials, reversing a yearslong trend of declining rates. Some 90 of those killed were current or retired police officers, often killed in ambushes in what investigators say are hits ordered by a São Paulo gang, the First Command of the Capital, or PCC. In 2011, some 56 police were killed.

The wave of killings is likely to refocus attention on crime rates in a country preparing to host two global sporting events, soccer’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Despite full employment and an economic boom, Brazil’s national killing rate still remains one of Latin America’s highest, surpassing that in countries such as Mexico, which routinely makes the news for gruesome drug-related deaths.

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