Note from BW of Brazil: The struggle that’s going on in Brazil in relation to the black community, in many ways, is reaching a boiling point and because of the issues currently effecting black Brazilians, as well as what could be coming, it is important that the international community understand these issues within a global context. What is going on with black Brazilians cannot be seen in a manner that is isolated from what’s going on with black folks in the United States, blacks in Africa, black people in Europe or wherever else they may reside.
With the election of right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro, it seems that things are on the brink of an emergency. The Bolsonaro Adminstration has proposed or actually implemented dramatic actions that could have devastating effects on black Brazilians. From cuts to the education system, to retirement and social security reform, to an anti-crime package that could increase the already alarming murders of poor blacks in the peripheries of major cities to a possible uprooting and removal of a black community that is descendant of fugitive slave communities formed throughout Brazil’s history, there is a clear agenda going down in Brazil and this agenda has a target.
A few months back, this delegation of the black Brazilian movement traveled on an official mission to Kingston, Jamaica, when they denounced the anti-crime package of Minister of Justice and Public Security Sérgio Moro, which many see as simply a ‘license to kill’ black people. Representatives of this coaltion have already met with Brazilian lawmakers on their concerns with these issues, and continuing with their intentions to take these issues international, black Brazilian leaders have traveled to the United States to make America’s black community aware of what all of this means.
African-Americans know all to well what it means to be disrespected, exploited and disenfranchised, but they must also understand that it is not only in America where black people are fighting for simple survival. Poverty, a lack of power, experiences with police violence, brutality and lethal assaults, and benign neglect are just a few of the issues that can be applied to black communities in the two countries. And these don’t even consider other issues such as black representation, anti-black actions and policies and everyday racism are all topics that both sides can discuss.
Below, I bring you up-to-date on why African-Americans need to know more about our “cousins” in Brazil than just the land of futebol, beaches, women and travel. As you become more familiar with the issues, we should all come to understand that we’re all in this together.
Black Coalition from Brazil goes to the US to report violations of Bolsonaro government rights
Between September 11 and 13, the Coalizão Negra por Direito (Black Coalition for Rights) participated in the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington DC. The meeting brought together African-American congressmen, politicians and black leaders from across the US.
Between September 11 and 13, the Coalizão Negra por Direito (Black Coalition of Rights) participated in the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington DC. The meeting brought together African-American congressmen, politicians and black leaders from across the US.
The Coalition was represented by Sara Branco, a lawyer at the Center for Studies on Labor Relations and Inequalities (CEERT), Douglas Belchior of Uneafro Brazil, and Juliana Góes, a human rights activist.
According to the organization, the purpose of the Brazilian delegation was to seek support against human rights violations committed against pessoas negras (black people).
For Sara, the main support the group received was from Congressman Henry Hank Jonhson Jr. “The Democrat is concerned about defending the human rights of the black population, not only the American, but also the Afro-Latina population,” he said.
The parliamentarian even recorded a video in which he expressed his support for the quilombola population of Alcântara, in Maranhão. He argued that the Brazilian Federal Constitution must be respected. “This kind of support, at a critical moment like the one we’re living in, is extremely important,” says Sara.
The lawyer stresses that the situation of black people in Brazil was not a debate at this congress, but that the issue should be discussed by African- Americans. In this sense, she understands that the Coalizão Negra has the role of provoking reflection and internationally denouncing the human rights violations that the black population faces in Brazil.
“Unfortunately, the discussion about black Brazilians has not happened yet, but in general, there is concern and attention to what is happening in the country, especially now, under the administration of Jair Bolsonaro,” she says. “The reality experienced by the black Brazilian population is still very invisible in the debate and that says a lot about inequality”, critiques Sara.
Black Coalition for Rights conducts anti-racist mobilization in New York
One of the objectives is to develop a support network for the black Brazilian movement and to combat the genocide of the black population
The Coalizão Negra Por Direitos (Black Coalition for Rights), an anti-racist organization made up of 60 civil society organizations, held its first international mobilization event in New York, United States. The meeting took place on Wednesday (25) at the resistance space “The People’s Forum” in Manhattan.
About 50 people participated in the launch of the international mobilization, including black Brazilian activists based in New York and the region, Afro Latinos, African-Americans and whites engaged in the anti-racist struggle.
Some of the leaders present were Douglas Belchior, of Uneafro Brasil; Sara Branco, Center for Studies on Labor Relations and Inequalities (CEERT); Thenjiwe McHarris of Blackbird and Movement for Black Lives; and Luz Marques of Benbox, Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellox of Puerto Rico.
One of its objectives is to develop a support network for the black Brazilian movement through the articulation of activists from different regions of the United States and international forums based in New York and Washington, such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
Sara Branco, representative of CEERT and Coalition coordinator, says that the launch of the mobilization was successful and that meetings between activists should take place monthly.
“The event was very successful. People understood our goal and agreed to support us. The idea is that the meetings will be weekly and next week – the first of October – we will have a new meeting,” she says.
The Coalizão Negra Por Direitos intends to create actions in universities and partnerships with local black organizations in order to confront the genocide of the black population in Brazil.
Congressman speaks against Alcântara base: “It dehumanizes the native people”
Democrat criticizes agreement between Trump and Bolsonaro saying it will “remove more than 800 quilombola families”
Rep. Hank Johnson used the US Congress floor to criticize the US-Brazil agreement providing for the use of the Alcântara Base in the state of Maranhão by the US to launch rockets and satellites. The speech took place last Friday (27).
“This agreement between the Trump and Bolsonaro administrations threatens to remove hundreds of Afro-Brazilian quilombola families from their lands, displacing even more marginalized communities. The Brazilian Constitution provides explicit protection for quilombola lands, and Trump and Bolsonaro break, shamelessly, disregarding this protection and taking possession of the land,” said the Representative, who is a member of the Democratic party.
Johnson insisted that the deal harms the people of Alcântara origin. “Previous expansions of this military base have removed over 300 families. A further expansion of this base into quilombola lands could remove more than 800 quilombola families from their constitutionally protected ancestral lands,” said the Democrat, who said using the base “dehumanizes the native people.”
Representative of Uneafro Brazil, member organization of the Coalizão Negra por Direitos, a front that brings together black movements from all over the country, Douglas Belchior celebrated the support of the American congressman.
“This debate did not go through the US Congress. The American congressmen were unaware of the content of this agreement. A group of parliamentarians were horrified at the consequences of this agreement for Afro-Brazilian communities. It was crucial to take this issue there and internationalize this debate,” explained Belchior.
For the Brazilian activist, the internationalization of the agenda is important so that the claims of the Alcântara quilombolas are met. “Our demands are not echoed here and the mainstream press continues to ignore racial issues as fundamental in Brazil, internationalizing and making noise is the most important strategy of this moment”, he points out.
The Coalizão Negra por Direitos also acts in the fight for rights of the black Brazilian population with the National Congress and international forums.
With information from Brasil de Fato, Brasil 24/7 and Alma Preta