Brazil Is Confronting an Epidemic of Anti-Gay Violence

Andrew Jacobs – The New York Times, 07/05/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — The assailant struck as Gabriel Figueira Lima, 21, stood on a street two weeks ago in a city in the Amazon, plunging a knife into his neck and speeding off on the back of a motorcycle, leaving him to die.

A few days earlier, in the coastal state of Bahia, two beloved teachers,Edivaldo Silva de Oliveira and Jeovan Bandeira, were killed as well, their charred remains found in the trunk of a burning car.

Late last month, it was Wellington Júlio de Castro Mendonça, a shy, 24-year-old retail clerk, who was bludgeoned and stoned to death near a highway in a city northwest of Rio.

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Correcting Brazil’s police violence: the case of Rio’s Pacifying Police Units

Layne Vandenberg – Brazil Institute, 12/18/2014


Widespread protests against police violence and racism have recently scattered the United States after the release of the Ferguson (Michael Brown) and Eric Garner grand jury decisions. While Americans grapple with the reality of police violence, other countries live deeply entrenched in this reality. Scholar Ignácio Cano says there is “a Ferguson every day” in Brazil, and the state of Rio de Janeiro has been trying out a new policing strategy in hopes of improving community-police relations in its slums, called favelas.

Between 2009 and 2013, Brazilian police killed more than 11,000 people, or about six people per day. The 2014 edition of the Brazil Public Security Yearbook also found that 53,646 homicides occurred in 2013, or one person every 10 minutes.

With the highest per capita rate of killing of any Brazilian state and 6,826 homicides per year between 1991 and 2007, the state of Rio de Janeiro is “comparable with urban areas of countries in civil war.” But Rio needed a quick solution for its violent reputation among the international crowd. Rio is home to Maracanã stadium, where several 2014 FIFA World Cup matches, including the final, were held and the city is the host of the upcoming 2016 Olympic games. So how do you change the face of a city and a state in time for the world’s two largest sporting events?

The Rio state government’s solution: pacification.

Continue reading “Correcting Brazil’s police violence: the case of Rio’s Pacifying Police Units”

Young, Black, Alive – Breaking the silence on Brazil’s soaring youth homicide rate

Atila Roque – Live Wire, 11/26/2014

Earlier this week, many people around the world waited with bated breath for a grand jury’s decision in a case where a police officer shot dead an unarmed young black man on the street. While the 9 August shooting of Michael Brown took place in the US suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, the case has a deep resonance here in Brazil. The tragic course of events leading up to the teenager’s death could just as easily have played out on the streets of our cities orfavelas.

Of the 56,000 homicides in Brazil every year, 30,000 are young people aged 15 to 29. That means that, at this very moment, a young person is most likely being killed in Brazil. By the time you go to bed, 82 will have died today. It’s like a small airplane full of young people crashing every two days, with no survivors. This would be shocking enough by itself, but it’s even more scandalous that 77 per cent of these young people are black.

Since 1980, more than 1 million people have been murdered in Brazil. According to Global Burden of Armed Violence 2008, in the period from 2004 to 2007, more people were killed here than in the 12 main wars worldwide. However the violence doesn’t impact Brazilian society equally. Murders are rampant in poor and marginalized communities. Prejudice and negative stereotypes associated with the favelas and city outskirts have a key role in perpetrating this violence.

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FAPESP Countdown: “Justice of Impunity”

The Brazil Institute is counting down to this year’s FAPESP Week (November 17-21), organized in collaboration with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. The symposium aims at strengthening the links between scientists from Brazil and the U.S. with the objective of promoting research partnerships. Find out more about the 2014 FAPESP Week in California here

Carlos Haag – Pesquisa FAPESP, 2014 Print Edition, Published in July 2013

A sentence from Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 classic On Crimes and Punishments is remarkably fitting today: “The certainty of a chastisement, even if it be moderate, will always make a greater impression than the fear of a more terrible punishment that is united with the hope of impunity.” Beccaria’s foresight captures current trends. “There’s a strong feeling in Brazil that irrespective of class, wealth, or power, crime has increased and grown more violent, but that there is impunity. At times like this, people think the solution is to have stiffer laws and longer prison terms,” says sociologist Sérgio Adorno, coordinator of the Center for the Study of Violence of the University of São Paulo (NEV-RIDC/USP), which is one of the 17 Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

“The feeling that impunity exists feeds distrust in the democratic institutions that are entrusted with enforcing law and order and with protecting civil rights, as provided for under the constitution, especially the right to safety,” says the researcher. But what are the true dimensions of this impunity? With this question in mind, NEV-RIDC conducted the research study Police investigations and the judicial process in São Paulo: the case of homicides, which is an outgrowth of the project Research on criminal impunity. The proposal was to analyze the flow of homicide cases from police report to sentencing. In addition to measuring criminal impunity, the study sought to identify the judicial and extrajudicial factors and the institutional mechanisms that favor the non-application of sentences for these crimes.

The basic numbers themselves reveal the magnitude of this impunity: only 60.13% of reported homicides were investigated. Consequently, no police investigations were on file for about 40% of the reports. While homicides rose 15.51%, the number of police investigations climbed just 7.48%. “This means the gap between the potential for more violence and the ability of the police force to investigate these crimes has widened, and this may find expression in people’s lack of confidence in the institutions entrusted with safeguarding the public order and enforcing law and order,” the sociologist points out.

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Article and photo courtesy of Revista Pesquisa FAPESP.

Gang war in Brazil’s Pedrinhas jail kills 13

BBC, 10/10/2013

Thirteen inmates have been killed and at least 30 injured in a fight between rival gangs in a prison in Brazil.

Riot police say they have regained control of Pedrinhas prison in Sao Luis, in the state of Maranhao, and are searching the jail for illegal weapons.

Prison guards said fighting had broken out after they discovered inmates digging an escape tunnel.

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