federal road militia

Dora Longo Bahia, The police come, the police go, 2018 Acrylic on cracked laminated glass 50 x 80 cm


The PRF’s record in the Jair Era includes political persecution, massacres, murders and, since Sunday, contestation of the rule of law

Participation in successive massacres, in the murder of a child living in a favela, of a prisoner who suffocated in the back of a police car and, since the presidential elections, repressing potential voters of the opponent of the current president almost at the same time that he supports the blockades of anti-democratic people who do not accept Lula's victory.

The Federal Highway Police (PRF) track record in the Jair Era includes political persecution, massacres, murders and, since Sunday, contestation of the rule of law, doing justice to the origins and interests of the president of militia nature. The attitude of the armed repression body descended to the point that it would be better to change the name of this police institution soon to reflect its new functions: Milícia Rodoviária Federal.

Of course, the other armed arms of the national State – such as the Federal Police and the Armed Forces – throughout history have also operated in a similar way and even led coups d'état in collusion with foreign governments, as the military did with the US in 1964 The frequent lethal use of the Brazilian State apparatus against its own people marks some of the worst moments in our history.

But what we see over the years of Jair (I do not type his last name and its derivatives so as not to feed the algorithms) was the rapid use of vast public resources to equip the PRF and transform this fraction of the State into a tactical armed arm, capable of to impose quickly, despite the laws, as seen particularly since November 2021.

Looking at the broader picture, Jair militiaized the State, transforming the criminal organization into a way of governing: through the violence and death of dissidents and control of the territory. Only the inauguration of a new government will be able to say if and which other fractions of the Brazilian State incorporated the same dynamic.

The PRF achieved such importance due to its logistical capacity and the capillarity of its operations in the national territory. The body has about 12400 agents/soldiers as armed as the feared special operations battalions of the state PM; operates in 6 support points across the country, along the 75000 km of federal highways; and it has at least one caveirão – a type of armored vehicle developed by the Israeli defense industry to repress the Palestinian people, sold and copied in abundance by the state police and which has nothing to do with the legal mission of the Brazilian road police.

In the event of a coup d'état – a possibility that Brazil has once again lived with since the assumption of the Jair phenomenon –, the PRF is prepared to operate in ways that structure the economy, commerce and social life in the country, being capable of objectively interfering in the political conjuncture – as it has been doing in recent days, by action and also by omission.

In everyday life, since at least the end of 2021, the PRF has been an actor and co-actor of massacres and murders in the urban environment, outside its jurisdiction, alone or in company with the deadly elite battalions of the state PMs. In this police alliance, the BOPE of Rio de Janeiro has a lethal and peculiar role.

Some recent cases in which the PRF was the author or co-author:

November 03, 2021, 26 dead: “The police action responsible for the death of 26 suspects of being part of a gang specializing in bank robberies in Varginha (MG) has points in common with the Jacarezinho massacre, in the north zone of Rio de Janeiro , such as the high number of deaths and evidence of tampering at the crime scene, according to public safety specialists interviewed by UOL. (…) In the rural area of ​​Varginha, the deaths were concentrated in simultaneous actions in two farms. In Rio, incidents with deaths by the police were recorded in nine locations in the favela in a six-hour period in May this year, with 27 deaths – one more compared to the city of Minas Gerais. The operation is pointed out as the most lethal by the Rio police.”

February 11, 8 dead: “A joint operation by the Military Police and the Federal Highway Police (PRF) in Vila Cruzeiro, in the North Zone of Rio, left at least eight dead after an intense confrontation, this Friday (11). The teams arrived in Penha before 5 am, when the shooting began. As a precaution, 17 schools in the municipal network have not opened and will only have online classes. The Felipe Cardoso, Aloísio Novis and Klebel de Oliveira Family Clinics have suspended external activities” (G1);

May 24, 25 dead: “The death toll in Vila Cruzeiro, Penha, rose to 25 during the police operation carried out for more than 10 hours this Tuesday (24). With this index, the operation is already considered the second most lethal in Rio, behind only the slaughter in Jacarezinho, which left 28 dead in May 2021. The action was carried out by agents of the Battalion of Special Police Operations (BOPE) and the Police Federal Bus Station (PRF) with the aim of arresting leaders of a criminal faction”(Veja);

May 27, 1 dead: “Genivaldo de Jesus Santos, aged 38, died of asphyxiation on Wednesday, the victim of an action by the Federal Highway Police (PRF) in the city of Umbaúba, in the interior of Sergipe. Police officers immobilized and locked Genivaldo in a corporation vehicle and threw a gas bomb inside the vehicle. A report from the Legal Medical Institute (IML) indicated death from mechanical asphyxia and respiratory failure after the police approach. The Federal Police opened an inquiry to investigate the case. The scene was witnessed and recorded by people who were close to the car and the images were released on social media. Videos show three police officers with their faces covered by helmets during the action and record the van being used as a gas chamber, with the victim locked in the trunk” (Valor Econômico);

October 28, 1 dead: “Another adolescent living in a community died as a result of lost bullet. The case occurred in the early hours of this Friday (28/10). Lorenzo Dias Palinhas, 14, was hit in the head during a police operation in Chapadão Complex, in the north zone of Rio de Janeiro. Federal Highway Police (PRF) and Military Police (PMERJ) agents were in the community looking for the criminals who killed police officer Bruno Vanzan Nunes, since Thursday night (27/10). According to reports from residents, Lorenzo helped with household bills by working as a snack delivery boy and was not involved in the confrontation. Witnesses also say that the young man died with the value of the delivery fee, R$ 10, in his hand” (Metropolis)

Jair, his children, a religious caste, the military establishment and the illicit business network (some already discovered by the CPI of COVID19) brought to the Planalto Palace a militia-like articulation and dynamics of governing - based on fraud, violence and voracity on public resources – which in itself is inadmissible. However, there are many more reasons to be concerned. In the heat of the electoral dispute, the political pole diametrically opposed to Jair also turned to the militia in search of the necessary votes for his victory on October 30.

Noting that the militias have enormous voting power in Rio de Janeiro, especially in the Baixada Fluminense, Lula's campaign also approached, in the second round, old warlords in the region, accused of being part of or leading militias.

One of them is the current mayor of the municipality of Belford Roxo, Waguinho Carneiro (União Brasil), previously denounced by the Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro as a member of a criminal organization (militia). The other was José Camilo Zito Filho, notoriously accused of being a hired killer and former mayor of Duque de Caxias. He was denied by the TRE-RJ the request for registration of his candidacy for state deputy by the PSD in the recent elections.

The support of both was negotiated by the state deputy and president of the Legislative Assembly of Rio, André Ceciliano (PT), former mayor of Paracambi, where he is still dedicated to the jewelry trade and is therefore known as André do Ouro. It is not known what the three negotiated in exchange for electoral support.

The PRF's institutional coup against the democratic outcome of the elections is a very visible tip of the iceberg against which we are dangerously heading. Arming and imposing a criminal way of operating on fractions of the State is already a huge challenge to the little democracy we still enjoy. But when the entire formal political spectrum resorts to the political power of the militias, giving them legitimacy, we move even closer to the scaffold.

*Carlos Tautz is a journalist and doctoral candidate in history at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).

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