In Denial Over Racism in Brazil

March 23, 2015

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 3/23/2015

One Friday night last month, the electricity was off in the streets of Palmeirinha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Three black teenagers were joking around in front of their houses. One of them started to run and the others followed, laughing. At that moment, the police came out shooting. Chauan Jambre Cezário, 19 years old, was seriously wounded. Alan de Souza Lima, 15 years old, died on the site with a cellphone in his hands — he had caught everything on video, including his own last agonizing minutes.

According to an official report released the next day, the boys were shot after a confrontation with the police. Officers allegedly found two guns at the scene and charged Mr. Cezário with resisting arrest. The boy, who sells iced tea on Ipanema Beach, was carried to the emergency room and handcuffed to the hospital bed.

Days later, the nine-minute cellphone video went public. Images clearly show that the teenagers didn’t have any guns on them and that there was neither confrontation nor resistance. Seconds after the shooting, a policeman asked why they had been running, to which a bleeding Mr. Cezário answered: “We were just playing around, sir.”

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Brazil femicide law signed by President Rousseff

March 10, 2015

BBC News, 3/9/2015

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has signed a new law which sets tough new penalties for the killing of women and girls.

Murders linked to domestic violence will carry sentences of between 12 and 30 years.

President Rousseff said the new law sends a clear message to women that the state would protect them.

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Diplomatic row heightens as Indonesia recalls ambassador from Brazil

February 23, 2015

Ben Otto – The Wall Street Journal, 02/22/2015

The government recalled its newly appointed ambassador to Brazil, the latest sign of deteriorating relations after Indonesia last month executed a Brazilian citizen convicted of drug smuggling.

In recalling the ambassador, Indonesia cited a perceived diplomatic slight, as Brazil declined to accept the credentials of Jakarta’s incoming ambassador during a ceremony in Brasília, the capital, on Friday.

“The manner in which the foreign minister of Brazil suddenly informed the postponement when the ambassador-designate was already at the palace, is unacceptable to Indonesia,” the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday.

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Abortion in Brazil: a matter of life and death

February 3, 2015

Donna Bowater – The Guardian, 2/1/2015

Born five years apart, sisters Joyce and Jandyra Magdalena dos Santos Cruz lived together in a simple low-rise in Guaratiba, a poor neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, with Joyce’s four children, Jandyra’s two daughters, and their mother, Marie Ângela. Like many Brazilian families, their lives were inextricably meshed by economies of scale.

It was the honey-coloured eyes they also shared that Joyce Magdalena recognised last August, when Jandyra was found inside a burnt-out car. She had been mutilated, dismembered and charred beyond identification. She had climbed into the same car a day earlier, at a bus station in the nearby town of Campo Grande, to be taken for an illegal abortion.

“The press said they cut off her hands,” says Joyce. “It wasn’t just her hands. They took off her arms, legs, teeth. A woman so beautiful. OK, she committed a crime, but she was committing a crime against herself, against her own life. It didn’t hurt anyone.”

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Inside the Pedrinhas prison complex, one of Brazil’s most notorious jails [Photo report]

January 30, 2015

David Sim – International Business Times, 1/30/2015

The overcrowded Pedrinhas prison complex in Maranhao state, Brazil, is notorious for gang warfare and riots. About 75 inmates have been killed since 2013, including three who were brutally beheaded during a riot between rival gangs at the hellish penitentiary.

A gory video showing the beheaded bodies of two inmates lying in a pool of blood on the floor was uploaded to YouTube in January 2014.

Built for 1,700 inmates, the facility holds more than 2,500. Overcrowding is one of the primary causes of rioting and violence in Brazil’s prisons. Brazil now has the fourth-largest prison population in the world behind the US, Russia and China. The population of those imprisoned in Brazil has quadrupled in the past 20 years to around 550,000 and the country needs at least 200,000 new incarceration spaces.

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In Brazil, a new bus fare increase elicits tepid protests this time

January 29, 2015

Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 1/29/2015

In June 2013, an 8-cent bus fare increase spurred student-led protests that quickly grew into a wider movement in which more than a million people took to the streets nationwide to denounce Brazil’s poor public services, government corruption and police abuse.

That price increase was shelved. But this month, amid a series of difficult spending cuts and tax hikes, authorities have raised fares again, this time by 20 cents, to $1.35.

A new round of protests led by the same student groups has begun but has failed to catch on with the wider population.

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Syrians find safety, hospitality in São Paulo

January 22, 2015

Matt Sandy – Al Jazeera, 1/22/2015

Three-year-old Mirna held a doll in one hand and played with her tangled coffee-colored hair in the other. She flashed a smile and asked, “Tudo bem?”

The ubiquitous Brazilian greeting was expressed with its trademark positivity. Mirna, who was born in Damascus three months after the start of the Syrian civil war, is learning Portuguese fast.

Having arrived in Latin America’s largest city just weeks before, for the first time in her life she was enjoying being out in the sunshine and meeting new people. Before, she remained hidden with her family in their home, hearing it shake with every nearby explosion.

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