The slaughter in Vila Cruzeiro

Image: Giovanni Ferri
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By PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO*

These criminal mega-operations have no value in repressing trafficking. These are maneuvers to divert society's focus from corruption, which feeds members of police forces and state apparatuses in Brazil.

During the 24th and 25th of May, we were closed in the Main Hall of the Faculty of Law of USP, in São Paulo, participating in the 50th Session of the Permanent Peoples' Court. We examined, among other topics, crimes against humanity affecting the black population, committed by President Bolsonaro and his far-right government.

Meanwhile, outside in Rio de Janeiro, the Military Police, the Federal Highway Police and other special forces carried out a twelve-hour operation, which began at dawn. They set up an ambush against drug retailers, in the guise of containing drug trafficking, in the Vila Cruzeiro favela, in the Penha region, in the north of the city. The balance: 26 executions, including stray bullet deaths.

It was the residents themselves who collected the bodies. Spokespersons for the police reported that such an “operation” – a slaughter – was prepared at length in order to repress drug traffickers. What turned out to be, however, was (more) an outburst of incompetence by the public forces, which resulted in the extermination of drug dealers – five with previous criminal records and the rest suspect –, instead of a true crime-fighting operation. organized. Evidently, several deaths were displayed as a consequence of a “make-believe” confrontation.

The police can say what they like about how these deaths occurred, as the crime scene was completely dismantled, the bodies abandoned in the woods by the police. Of course, through necropsy, where the truth emerges with an examination of the bullets and weapons of those involved, it will be possible to know more. But the Carioca tradition is to carry out very rigorous investigations, always in a lie, often, as in other great massacres, conducted in secret, preventing civil society from having access to the investigation data.

The military police have been acting for some time, even as occupying forces in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, targeting the black population. The organization Favela Não Se Cala even calls these “extermination camps” “Brazilian strips of Gaza”. The police in Rio, without controls and without limits, even act with Israeli training and weapons, like the occupying forces of the Palestinian territories – which, according to the journalist Gideon Levy wrote in the Haaretz, Israel's highly respected newspaper, "became storm troopers. storm troops) in the deepest and most loaded sense of that term; there is no other way to describe them.”

Those storm troops Brazilian women dare to criticize Minister Edson Fachin, of the Federal Supreme Court, for his courageous decisions to contain the rage of extermination and racism in police operations, since the Covid-19 pandemic. Decisions that rulers of Rio de Janeiro, in an election campaign, do not have the courage to take, due to demagoguery with the Bolsonarist extreme right.

In the recent past, it was fashionable to consider the malfunctioning of the police, in collusion with criminal organizations, drug traffickers and the militias – who today control most of the territory of the state of Rio de Janeiro – as a parallel state. The fact is that there was never any parallelism. Organized crime, drug trafficking and militias are embedded in the functioning of the State, in all units of the federation.

As Pedro Constantine, one of the leaders of Favela Não se Cala, said in an interview with TV 247, the repressive state apparatus has no interest in confronting drug trafficking and the militias in order not to lose profits arising from the tolerance of criminal activities in the favelas. Weapons for the exclusive use of the Armed Forces, held by criminals (wholesale and retail of drugs) do not fall from the sky. Most likely they are provided by those who benefit from the drug trade.

It's high time we put away useless farce. These mega criminal operations that result in massacres have no value as a repression of trafficking. They are simply maneuvers to divert society's focus from corruption, which feeds members of police forces and state apparatuses in Brazil.

*Paulo Sergio Pinheiro he is a retired professor of political science at USP; former Minister of Human Rights; UN Special Rapporteur on Syria and member of the Arns Commission. Author, among other books, of Strategies of illusion: the world revolution and Brazil, 1922-1935 (Company of Letters).

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