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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Radio journalist gunned down in Brazil

March 3, 2015

Committee to Protect Journalists, 3/2/2015

Brazilian authorities should immediately investigate the murder of radio journalist Ivanildo Viana, identify the motive, and bring the killers to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

“Journalists in Brazil have faced a wave of deadly violence in recent years and, in most cases, the killers have gone unpunished,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s Americas senior program coordinator, from New York. “Brazilian authorities must thoroughly investigate this crime and examine all possible motives.”

Unidentified assailants on a motorcycle pursued Viana, who was on his own motorcycle, and shot him several times, news reports said citing police. His body was found on the side of the highway that runs between Santa Rita and João Pessoa, the capital of Paraíba state. None of his belongings, including his motorcycle, were taken, police said.

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Carnival spectacle tainted by violence in Brazil

February 19, 2015

Chris Wright – Business Insider, 2/15/2015

Tens of thousands of people flooded Rio’s streets Sunday to watch samba dancers in dazzling costumes defy downpours and bare sparkly flesh in a fantasy Brazilians dream of year round.

An estimated crowd of more than 72,000, from great-grandmothers to babes in arms, swayed and cheered on their favorite samba school in hours-long parades in Rio’s annual party to end all parties.

There was thunder, lightning and driving rain pouring on thousands in viewing stands open to the sky. Many wore disposable rain ponchos.

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Brazil, the Outlaw’s Paradise

February 5, 2015

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 2/5/2015

A long-established piece of wisdom in Hollywood says that if you have robbed a bank or sold war secrets to the enemy, or even if you’ve just embezzled some company funds, then you should pack your stuff and move to Brazil.

According to my brief detective work, perhaps the first film to reference the peculiar attraction that Brazil holds for international runaways was “The Lavender Hill Mob,” a 1951 British comedy starring Alec Guinness. His character steals one million pounds in gold from the Bank of England, melts the bars into miniature Eiffel Towers and comes “straight on to Rio de Janeiro. Gay, sprightly, land of mirth and social ease.”

A year later, the Hollywood drama “5 Fingers” presented an ambitious British Embassy valet who decides to sell secrets to the Nazis. James Mason’s character intends to collect 200,000 pounds in 12 weeks, and then dash into “a new life. A new name.” Alongside his partner, a ruined countess portrayed by Danielle Darrieux, he plans to escape “the wars, the intrigues, fears,” and to become like the elegant man he once saw on the balcony of a Brazilian villa, high in the mountainside above the harbor. “He seemed close enough to touch, and yet he was beyond the reach of anyone.”

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Brazil insists violence won’t undermine 2016 Olympics

February 5, 2015

AP – SF Gate, 2/3/2015

Brazil’s Tourism Minister said Tuesday that he’s not worried that a recent spike in violence in Rio de Janeiro might deter visitors from attending next year’s Olympic Games.

Vinicius Lages said studies have shown that insecurity is not a major worry for visitors to the city, which has long had alarmingly frequent muggings and high murder rates.

Though levels of violence have dipped in recent years, Rio has had a recent spike in insecurity, including highly publicized spates of stray bullet fatalities and mass robberies on its showcase beaches.

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Brazil: Action Needed to Curb Chronic Abuses

January 29, 2015

Human Rights Watch, 1/29/2015

Brazil needs to do more to address the problems of torture, unlawful police killings, and inhumane prison conditions, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2015.

In the 656-page world report, its 25th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth urges governments to recognize that human rights offer an effective moral guide in turbulent times, and that violating rights can spark or aggravate serious security challenges. The short-term gains of undermining core values of freedom and non-discrimination are rarely worth the long-term price. The chapter on Brazil highlights the most troubling human rights trends in the country and assesses steps the government has taken to address them.

“While state and federal authorities have taken encouraging steps to improve human rights practices, the abuses we documented in 2014 show that much more needs to be done,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch.

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Brazil police raiding warehouse for stolen goods find two military tanks

January 27, 2015

AP – The Guardian, 1/27/2015

A Brazilian police raid to recover stolen cars and cargo came up with a more interesting find: two war tanks.

Police in Brazil’s biggest city said on Tuesday that the engine-less tanks were found inside a warehouse in Sacoma, a low-income district in São Paulo. Police also confiscated 500 television sets, car body parts and a recently stolen semitrailer truck.

Army officers told the UOL internet portal that the two tanks found on Monday did not belong to the army and that their origin would be investigated. Officials did not say what sort of tanks they were or how old they might be. Images published by local media show a treaded vehicle with five road wheels on each side.

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