Note from BW of Brazil: I don’t really know if there are any adequate words that express the anger I felt after learning of the murder of musician Evaldo Rosa dos Santos. As reported a few days ago, Brazil’s Army shot at his car 80 times, killing dos Santos and wounding two others. It’s a wonder that all five passengers weren’t killed. 80 shots are capable of killing far more than one car of people headed to a baby shower, as was the case in this incident.
For several days, many of Brazil’s media outlets pointed out the silence on the situation regarding the general public, but particularly from government officials. As featured in a headline of the nation’s top news magazine, Veja, we still haven’t heard an official condemnation of the brutal murder. Of course, many in the black community have expressed their outrage over the situation, as Brazil’s security forces continue its killing spree against its black population. The non-reaction speaks not only to a history of genocidal treatment against black people in the country, but also the lack of concern that the population as a whole has when news breaks of black Brazilians being murdered in such violent manners again and again.
Evaldo Rosa dos Santos was laid to rest a few days ago. Below are a just a few reports covering the event, the incident that led to yet another funeral, and the words of President Bolsonaro, who finally spoke on the murder after several days of silence. Considering what he said, I would have referred that he said nothing at all.
Relatives say goodbye to musician gunned down by soldiers protesting in barracks in Rio
Justice maintains imprisonment of nine of the ten soldiers who acted in the action that killed Evaldo Rosa. After two days of silence, members of the Government comment on the case.
By Beatriz Jucá
The military court has kept nine of the 10 soldiers in custody under arrest after shooting more than 80 times with their rifles against a family car in the Guadalupe neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, killing the musician Evaldo dos Santos Rosa. He was buried on Wednesday morning under a commotion from friends and family, who protested with blood-stained flags of Brazil and asked for government responses about the crime.
Hours later, Judge Mariana Queiroz Aquino Campos, of the 1st Military Audit of Rio, granted provisional release to only one of the agents who was arrested for the crime. The soldier Leonardo Delfino Costa was the only one who declared that he had not fired a shot at the testimony given to the Army. In all, 12 military personnel participated in the patrol operation in the area and are being investigated for the firing squad, but two of them were not caught in the act because they only drove the troop vehicles and therefore did not shoot.
The judge’s understanding was that there was “breach of rules of engagement”, since the military fired without being threatened. Evaldo Rosa was taking his wife, his stepfather, his son and a goddaughter to a friend’s baby shower when he had his car shot by the agents. The military was charged with Evaldo’s murder and attempted murder of the other occupants of the vehicle. According to the military prosecutor’s office, the investigators’ version was that they confused the musician’s car with another vehicle, whose occupants had shot at them a few hours earlier.
According to the depositions, the first to shoot was Lt. Ítalo da Silva Nunes Romualdo. He was detained shortly after the crime with nine other soldiers, after the Civil Police investigated the site and to identify evidence for imprisonment after being caught in the act. The military court’s decision on Wednesday turned these arrests into preventative prisons, which have unlimited time.
The Civil Police carried out the investigation because the population revolted and didn’t let the Army itself do this work, but the investigations and possible processes originated from them will be processed in the Military Justice. The Military Judiciary Police is responsible for investigations, still ongoing.
That’s because a law passed by then-President Michel Temer in 2017 determines that life-threatening crimes committed by military personnel against civilians during operations should go to military courts. Human rights activists interpret this law as a kind of privileged forum for the military, who in recent years have been called upon to act in public security actions, and fear the risk of impunity, since the accused are tried by members of their own corporation.
Relatives and friends of Evaldo also raised this issue on Wednesday. After the burial of Evaldo Rosa, they continued on to the headquarters of the 1st Army Division, the Marechal Mascarenhas de Moraes palace, to protest. On the stairs of the institution, they placed Brazilian flags with red spots that simulated blood and some posters. One of the demonstrators even shouted: “Bolsonaro, it’s your fault”.
A friend also said that the victim’s family had not even been approached by the Comando Militar do Leste (Eastern Military Command), which in the late afternoon offered condolences to Evaldo’s relatives on social media. In the act, friends expressed fears that those responsible for the death of the musician go unpunished and demanded some public manifestation from the president and representatives of the Government on the case.
Acting on Twitter and elected with several promises aimed at securing public safety, President Jair Bolsonaro – who is a retired military man – preferred to remain silent for the first two days after the case shocked the country. He did not express himself publicly, but, in the face of popular pressure on social networks, he used his spokesman to express his confidence in the investigation of the facts by the Military Justice.
Presidential spokesman Otávio do Rêgo Barros told reporters that Bolsonaro asked for speed in investigations but denied that the president expressed regret for the murder. “The institutions of the Brazilian Army, the institutions of the Armed Forces do not share the misunderstanding of its members, but obviously they need the most correct and fair verification possible,” said Rêgo Barros.
The Minister of Justice and Public Security, Sérgio Moro, also appeared only on the third day after the Armed Forces fired 80 shots at a family car. The manager – who proposes in his anti-crime package the reduction or exclusion of penalties for security agents who kill on duty out of “unnecessary fear, surprise or violent emotion” – stated that “unfortunately these facts can happen” and that apparently the case, still under investigation, does not even fit into an action in legitimate defense.
According to Moro, this was a “rather tragic incident.” “What I saw, however, is that the Army immediately began to investigate these facts and take the necessary steps. It withdrew some of the people involved. Subjected them to jail. And you have to investigate, right, if there was any. The facts will be clarified. If there was an unjustifiable incident of any kind, which apparently was the case,” he said in an interview with TV Globo’s Programa do Bial on Tuesday.
During a public hearing at the Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense, Defense Minister General Azevedo e Silva reiterated that President Bolsonaro ordered “to investigate what has to be ascertained” and called the murder of Evaldo Rosa dos Santos during a military patrol operation a “lamentable incident”. “We will find out and cut into our own flesh,” said the minister.
Silence over Evaldo is support for the 80 Army shots that executed him
By Aquiles Lins
The brutal execution of the black musician Evaldo Rosa dos Santos by Army soldiers in Rio de Janeiro received no demonstration up to 9:30 am on Tuesday, 9, more than 30 hours after the event, by the main federal government authorities.
On Twitter from President Jair Bolsonaro, who hastened to commemorate action of the Rota (see note one) that killed 11 people in São Paulo, and Vice President Hamilton Mourão, there was no mention of this heinous crime. Mourão, remember, before the varnish of media training, was didactic when saying during the campaign that the military are “professionals of violence.”
Minister of Justice and Public Security Sergio Moro has so far not expressed himself about the 80 rounds of shots from back to front against the car Evaldo was in with his family on the way to a baby shower. 80 rifle shots! It’s more than the German police fired in a whole year. In 2017, there were 75 gunshots, with 14 deaths there.
To Globo (news network), Governor Wilson Witzel, who defends the use of snipers against suspects and asks to “aim at the head”, dodged the issue saying that “it is not up to him to make a value judgment and much less to make any criticism about the facts”.
When public officials of this level do not condemn a brutal murder like this, it means that they agree with it. Minister Moro even presented a bill that exempts police officers from punishment in similar circumstances. Bolsonaro then, didn’t even talk about, his biography is muddled by attacks on human life.
It is obvious that a summary execution action of this magnitude, against a black man who took his family to a baby shower, is supported by the discourse of apology for weapons, defense of murder, contempt for life.
In fact, there has been no appreciation for life in the Brazilian state for a long time.
Note from BW of Brazil: Evaldo dos Santos Rosa was MURDERED last Sunday, April 7th, with 80 shots that were clearly meant to kill. It doesn’t matter if the Army mixed up the car they were shooting at, as it claims. The point is, its intent in firing so many times at a single target was that it intended to kill. Let’s leave that clear. With that in mind, consider the words of President Jair Bolsonaro, who only issued a statement on the MURDER five days after it happened.
According to Bolsonaro, “the Army didn’t kill anyone, no.” This is what the President said when asked about the MURDER during the inauguration of an airport in Macapá, the capital of the northern state of Amapá. The former Army captain continued, saying: “The Army belongs to the people, and it can’t accuse the people of being murderers. There was an incident, a death. In the Army there is always one responsible.”
Are these words a bit shocking to you or is this President an idiot that doesn’t understand what the term “matar”, Portuguese for “to kill”, means? According to one of the online Portuguese dictionaries I occasionally consult, “matar” means “to cause someone’s death, animal or otherwise”, to “shoot down, take a life.” I don’t think any rational person would deny that that is precisely what the Army did last Sunday.
But this type of rhetoric shouldn’t be surprising. Not coming from a man who vowed to give police carte blanche to kill more. Not from a man who has fond memories of a Military Dictatorship that tortured, murdered and disappeared thousands of people. Not from a man who dedicated his impeachment vote against former President Dilma Rousseff to the man who tortured her. Not from a man who constantly made gun gestures throughout his campaign. And seeing that the majority of Brazilians voted for this man speaks to the silence of the population as a whole on such a brutal assassination. And with the alliances this President has made in recent weeks, I fear this is only the beginning.
- Rondas Ostensivas Tobias de Aguiar (ROTA) is a troop of the General Command of the Military Police of the State of São Paulo.