Rio protest: Brazil police demand tougher protection laws

December 15, 2014

AP – BBC News, 12/15/2014

Hundreds of Brazilian police officers and their relatives have taken part in a protest in Rio de Janeiro to demand tougher legislation for crimes against the police.

They are demanding changes in the penal code so that the killing of police officers be treated as heinous crimes. Eighty officers were killed in the line of duty in Rio this year alone.

In most cases, they died fighting the criminal gangs that control many of the city’s shantytowns, or favelas. During the week, protesters laid crosses on the sand of Copacabana beach with the names of the dead. Wearing predominantly black, some 500 people staged a march on Sunday to raise awareness to the problem.

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Brazil’s dictatorship: The final reckoning

December 12, 2014

The Economist (print edition) – 12/13/2014

For a country whose recent presidents all suffered at the hands of the military regime that ruled from 1964 to 1985, Brazil has been awfully slow to probe that dark chapter of its history. Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent, was tortured. Her two immediate predecessors, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, were respectively jailed and forced into exile. On December 10th, after nearly three years of sleuthing, the National Truth Commission presented its report into human-rights abuses committed from 1946 to 1988, with special attention to the dictatorship years. “Brazil deserves the truth,” said Ms Rousseff, who cried upon receiving the report.

The 4,400-page publication stands out among similar efforts in other countries. It names 377 individuals as responsible for 434 political murders and disappearances. They include all eight military presidents and the top brass, as well as minions who carried out their orders. Their crimes were deliberate acts of policy, not occasional excesses, the report makes clear.

Most culprits are either dead or in their dotage. Under an amnesty law enacted in 1979 (to benefit exiled dissidents) few will face trial. The commission hopes its report will prompt a rethink of the amnesty, which falls foul of human-rights treaties. But for now, symbolism must suffice. While no substitute for justice, admits José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby group, “it is a start”.

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Brazil: 3,700 Same-Sex Marriages in First Year of Legalization

December 10, 2014

TeleSUR, 12/10/2014

Brazilian courts ruled in 2013 that same sex-couples could not be denied marriage licenses, although the act is still not recognized by law.

After the Brazil’s first year of allowing same-sex marriage, almost 4,000 gay weddings took place in the country, according to official figures released Tuesday.

According to the Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute (IBGE), 3,701 gay weddings took place in 2013 – 52 percent of which were between women and 48 percent between men.

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Brazil truth commission: Abuse ‘rife’ under military rule

December 10, 2014

BBC News, 12/10/2014

Brazil’s national truth commission says illegal arrests, torture, executions and forced disappearances were performed systematically by state agents under Brazil’s military rule.

In its final report, the commission also called for the armed forces to recognise their responsibility for the “grave violations” that happened.

More than 400 people were killed or disappeared between 1964 and 1985. Many others, among them President Dilma Rousseff, were arrested and tortured.

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Brazil Truth Commission: Torture, executions amounted to state policy

December 10, 2014

Al Jazeera – 12/10/2014

The Brazilian government routinely used torture, summary executions and forced disappearances against dissidents during the country’s 1964-85 military dictatorship in a campaign that amounted to official policy, according to a National Truth Commission report released on Wednesday.

“During the military dictatorship, repression and elimination of political opponents became state policy, designed and implemented from decisions emanating from the presidency of the republic and military ministries,” the report said according to Brazilian newspaper Estadao.

Commission members presented the findings of the nearly 3-year-long investigation based on over 1,000 testimonials to President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist who suffered a long imprisonment and torture during the dictatorship.

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Brazil Has ‘a Ferguson Every Day’

November 27, 2014

Mac Margolis – Bloomberg View, 11/26/2014

Like many expatriate Americans, I spent a lot of time in August staring at video replays of the protests roiling Ferguson, Missouri, and beyond. After all, the story line — white cop shoots unarmed black man, streets erupt — seemed only too familiar, one of those signal moments by which the U.S. is seen and judged by the rest of the world.

But when I commented on the tumult to a senior Brazilian political journalist in Rio de Janeiro, where I live, he seemed underwhelmed. “Ah, I heard about that,” he said, laconically. Likewise, the Missouri grand jury’s failure to indict the police officer who’d pulled the trigger got little more than a few angry tweets and Facebook rants.

My Brazilian friend was not uninterested, merely inured. Racism, rogue cops and rough justice are as familiar here as flip flops and palm trees. Brazilian police killed 2,212 people last year, the Brazilian Forum of Public Safety, a national think tank, reported in a study published Nov. 9. Between them, report the authors, Brazilian state and federal police violence claimed more lives (11,200) in the last five years than did all U.S. police combined in the last 30 (11,090).

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