While the homicide rate of whites in the country fell 24.8% from 2002 to 2010, that of the the black population grew by 5.6% in the same period. In 2002, proportionally, 65.4% more blacks died victims of homicide than whites. Eight years later, Afro-Brazilians were victimized by homicide 132.3% more than whites.
Newspaper: Blacks are the main target of homicides
The data is part of the Mapa da Violência 2012: A Cor dos Homicídios no Brasil (Map of Violence 2012: The Color of Homicide in Brazil), released on Thursday, November 29th, in the capital city of Brasília, the Centro Brasileiro de Estudos Latino-Americanos (Brazilian Center of Latin American Studies or Cebela), the Faculdade Latino-Americana de Ciências Sociais (Flacso or the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences) and the Secretaria de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial da Presidência da República (Seppir or the Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality of the Presidency).
|Map of Violence 2012: The Color of Homicide in Brazil|
According to the study, 272,422 blacks were murdered in Brazil between 2002 and 2010, with an annual average of 30,269 deaths. In 2010 alone, there were 34,983 registered. To complete the survey, data were considered from the Sistema de Informações de Mortalidade do Ministério da Saúde (Mortality Information System of the Ministry of Health).
Deaths by murder among black youths in the country are, proportionally, two and a half times higher than that among young whites. In 2010, the rate of violent deaths of young blacks was 72 for every 100,000 inhabitants, while for young whites it was 28.3 per 100 thousand inhabitants. The evolution of the index in eight years was also unfavorable for black youth. In comparison with the 2002 figures, the homicide rate for young whites fell (it was 40.6 per 100,000 inhabitants). Among young blacks index rose (it was 69.6 per 100,000 inhabitants).
According to Professor Julio Jacobo who led the study, the data is “alarming” and represent a “pandemic of deaths of young black men.” Among the factors leading to this situation, he cites the “culture of violence” – both institutional and domestic, and impunity. According to the professor, in only 4% of cases of homicides in Brazil, do those responsible go to jail.
“The study confirms that at the extreme of violence in the country are young black men and not by chance. We have a culture in this country that justifies the existence of violence in many instances. The state and the families tolerate violence and it is this culture that makes it become commonplace, that any conflict is resolved by the next killing,” Jacobo said.
The teacher advocates more comprehensive and integrated public policies to address the issue, especially in education. “There is in the country about 8 million young black men who neither study nor work. Public policies to incorporate this portion of the population are essential to reverse the picture.”
Still according to the study, the most serious situation is observed in eight states where the death of young blacks surpasses the mark of 100 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants. They are: Alagoas, Espirito Santo, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Mato Grosso, Distrito Federal, Bahia and Pará. Analysis by municipalities is even more worrying: in Simões Filho, Bahia, and in Anantapur, Pará, 400 homicides are recorded for young blacks for every 100 thousand inhabitants.
The professor emphasized that murder rates among the black population in Brazil are higher than those of many regions facing armed conflicts. Jacobo also compared the Brazilian situation to that of developed countries like Germany, Holland, France, Poland and England, where the homicide rate is 0.5 young per 100 thousand inhabitants.
“For every young person who dies from murder in these countries, 106 young people and 144 young blacks die in Brazil. If we compare it with Bahia, there are 205 young blacks murdered for each death in those countries, and in the city of Simões Filho in Bahia, which has the worst Brazilian index, there are 912 deaths of young black men murdered for each youth,” he said.
Bahia, the state with the largest number of African descendants in the country, ranked first in the ranking of black homicides from 2002 to 2010, according to the study. The growth in the state was nearly 300%, ahead of Rondônia (211%) and Paraíba (209%). Across the country, the increase was 29.8%, while the number of murders of whites decreased by 24.8%.
The total number of blacks killed in Bahia in 2010 was 5,069, 2,269 more than in 2006, when there were 2,800 deaths. The records of 2006 are also higher than those of 2002 (1,282 deaths), which shows a rapid growth of the statistics of violence involving black people. The number of whites killed also increased year to year in Bahia, but still remains well short of the number of blacks killed, never exceeding three digits. In 2002 there were 137 murders of white people, and in 2006 and 2010, 187 and 361, respectively.
|Mário Lisboa Theodoro|
The executive secretary of Seppir, Mário Lisboa Theodoro, emphasized that the federal government has stepped up actions to address the problem that he classified as “critical”. He recalled that in September, in Alagoas, was released the Juventude Viva (Living Youth) project to address the growing number of homicides among young black people across the country. The initiative provides full time classes in state schools, the creation of cultural spaces in violent areas and the stimulation of youth entrepreneurship coupled with the solidarity economy.
Juventude Viva is the first step of a broader action – Plano de Prevenção à Violência Contra a Juventude Negra (Plan of Prevention of Violence Against Black Youth). The government’s goal is to expand the program in the first half of 2013 to five units (four states and the capital): Paraíba, Espírito Santo, Federal District, Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul.
“The goal is to ensure a range of services to the communities where these young people live, such as infrastructure, besides providing an opportunity to study and work for them, including taking advantage of the sporting events that Brazil will host, like the World Cup,” said Theodoro.
The evolution of homicides, considering the color of the victims, shows how much Brazil needs to advance public policies that guarantee equal conditions for all, regardless of color, particularly in access to areas considered priority, with an offer of a quality education, says Minister of Seppir, Luiza Bairros.
The report doesn’t indicate a single motive for the growth of deaths among African descendants, but indicates a number of factors contributing to this increase. What is evident, still according to the minister, is that all the conditions of the culture of violence are enhanced by the presence of racism. “This expression causes people to naturalize such a significant number. And this naturalization is given by the type of dehumanization that suggests racism toward blacks.”
Sociologist and president of the Development of the Black Community, Vilma Reis believes the high rate in Bahia is directly linked to racial discrimination. “The police also arrest white people involved in the crime, for example, but black people do not even have the right to go to the jury. There is established the death penalty in a country where there is no provision of death in its Constitution.”
Drug trafficking, which generates violence, should not be singled out as the only reason or the main reason for the rise of the statistics. There are important social issues behind the sale and consumption of drugs such as unequal access to education, consumer goods and other basic rights and dignity of citizens, which ends up creating a much more complex issue, the minister Bairros believes.
“For lack of more precise explanations, making this direct association of deaths of young blacks and consumption or drug trafficking is actually the easiest explanation one can find to justify the problem. To say that drugs are involved in all cases is a simplification. And drugs eventually becames a sort of scapegoat,” says Bairros.
The Minister for Racial Equality calls further attention to the reversal of guilt that such conclusion raises related to the high number of mortality of blacks in state capitals to drug trafficking. Associating the deaths of blacks to commercialization or drug use, in her opinion, is blaming the victim of the homicide, in this case, blacks. “It’s as if it was like something like: ‘He died because he adopted risky behavior’”, she opines.
In this sense, treating the increase in homicides among blacks as a matter of public safety is not, in the view of the minister, the best solution to reduce the rates of violence. “In a certain way, it inhibits facing the problem when one seeks to re-examine it through increased enforcement and expanding resources for the police, when there are other dimensions involved in this matter,” she says.
Due to the complexity of the issue, which involves public safety, educational and social issues, among others, ie, a group of factors, tackling the problem from the standpoint of public policy seems to be the most appropriate way, the minister believes. “There is no doubt that school should be dealt with. It’s framework that is part of a broader scenario. Today, we have 5 million young people who neither work nor study. More investment in the cultural dimension and in values is necessary so that young people can believe more in society and their talents. It’s through this that you ensure that young people value life.”
The Juventude Viva program is an attempt, according to Bairros, to remedy the problem. “The program is an attempt to gather various types of actions and initiatives to create possibilities and opportunities for young people with cultural plants, creating space in neighborhoods where youth culture can express itself, and possibilities of professionalization.”
* – Numbers of deaths during the years of the War in Iraq starting in 2003 are up for debate and dependent upon the source of the information. For example, see the report in Wikipedia