Peace is the truth of the Brazilian protests

Published on ROARMAG.org, by Eduardo Baker, Bruno Cava and Giuseppe Cocco / ROAR collective, Dec 3, 2013.

To many Brazilians, especially the black and poor, the country’s protests are a chance to fight against state brutality and for a non-pacified peace.

On the night of June 24 this year, the state’s military police invaded the Maré complex of favelas with its full war apparatus: armored cars, choppers and rifles. The police occupied the territory inhabited by around 150.000 people and unleashed a night of terror. 

Apart from the siege, where “no one goes out, no one comes in”, electric and phone lines were cut off, hundreds of homes invaded with no warrants and, depending on who you talk to, between 9 and 14 residents were summarily executed by the police. Since shooting was simply “too little”, the elite squad chose to behead some of the victims. This reality is common in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, a city in which the official numbers point to around 500 killed annually by the forces of the state – as well as the same amount of “disappeared” people — with the great majority being young, black and poor.

What made this slaughter different was its context. Days after one million marched in the center of the city, Maré’s “Massacre of Saint Bartholomew” took place in retaliation of a protest by favelados in the main avenue beside the favela. At the end of the protest on the 24th, under the pretext that there had been thefts occurring in the avenue, the police intervention led to the death of a resident and an officer from BOPE (the special police battalion). This triggered a typical revenge action from the police where each dead officer must be avenged by a much greater number of residents. The “message” was clear: “the favelados shouldn’t join the uprising, or else they will be killed”.

While Maré was being assaulted by a bellicose attack that can only be described as a targeted extermination, the corporate press of the city limited itself to talk about “another confrontation between police officers and drug dealers”. The focus consisted in highlighting the death of the police officer, implying that the action was an expected and legitimate response to narcotraffic. The government followed the same narrative: blame it on the “traffic”. What happened next could also have been buried by the press, but it had another outcome. The following day, 3.000 protesters descended from the hills of Rocinha’s and Vidigal’s favelas and marched to the governor’s house in the luxurious neighborhood of Leblon to demand better living conditions, including sanitation, education, health and the end of the military police.

On July 4, 5.000 people had the courage to protest in Maré again, on the same avenue of the June 24 protests, uniting social movements, NGOs and collectives, and displaying signs such as “A state that kills, never again!”. A new line of questioning was cast on the tide of terror against the black youth. On July 14, a resident of Rocinha’s favela was taken by the police and, right after he “conveniently disappeared”, the campaign “Where is Amarildo?” emerged. The campaign reached a national and international audience and Amarildo became the symbol of a resistance whose first challenge was to make visible the thousands of anonymously killed and missing people in Brazil’s big cities … //

… (full long text and 9 pictures).

Links:

People before Profit, Hollywood History, and the Coup in Oz: The Anti-Empire Report #123, on Dissident Voice, by William Blum, December 4, 2013;

Kentucky town to pay police chief in bitcoin, on Russia Today RT, Dec 4, 2013;

2 million passwords for Facebook, Twitter and Google posted online, on Russia Today RT, Dec 4, 2013;

CEO vs. Worker Pay, An Ever Increasing Divide
, on Dissident Voice, by Yves Engler, December 4, 2013.

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