Note from BW of Brazil: Sad. Outrageous. Disturbing. But I can’t say shocking. Why? For a few reasons. 1) As we’ve seen time and time again, violence, mob attacks and lynchings are shockingly common in Brazil and 2) There seems to be a very strong undercurrent of anti-black immigration in Brazil. The ironic thing about today’s post is that it happened on very same day that an interview with an expert on the topic was released. In an interview posted here just yesterday, Alex André Vargem detailed with specific examples of how African and Haitian immigrants “are treated differently in relation to immigrants of other nationalities coming to Brazil.” In Vargem’s view, violence against these two groups can repeat itself “at any moment”. Again, the mood here is sadness but not surprise, after all, we’ve documented numerous cases of anti-African/anti-Haitian behavior in Brazil (see numerous stories in highlighted link above). The question is, what will Brazilian authorities do about it?
Haitian beaten and stabbed to death by a group of people in Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil
Police suspect alleged hate crime against the immigrant Fetiere Sterlin. The victim was going to a party with his wife and friends when he suffered the attack
Courtesy of Zero Hora Notícias and Contexto Livre
The Civil Police of Santa Catarina are investigating an alleged hate crime that occurred in the city of Navegantes this weekend. The Haitian Fetiere Sterlin, 33, was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of about 10 people on Saturday night. The victim came to be rescued by the fire department in the area, but ended up dying before they even brought him to the city hospital.
“The police report was made as robbery, but the stronger hypothesis is a hate crime. In fact, I would have started with this and then made it a robbery. We have heard some witnesses and in the course of the investigation we will determine the motivation,” explains the chief Rodrigo Coronha.
The Haitian and his wife, who is Brazilian, were going to a party in the neighborhood Nossa Senhora das Graças along with four friends, also of Haitian nationality. According to his wife, Vanessa Nery Pantoja, three men began cycling by the group shouting expletives in Creole – a language spoken by the majority of the Haitian population – including “macici”, which is equal to the pejorative Portuguese term “viado”, meaning homosexual.
“My husband just said ‘macici’ are you (all). That was the reason they vowed death. About 10 minutes later they came back with about 10 people and were on top of us,” she recounts. She said that before going away, the guy said, “I’ll come back and give you a bunch of shots.” Another witness said that the men said that “Haitians have nothing to do here.”
Vanessa explains that the group, composed of several teenagers, returned with knives, a shovel and other tools to attack them. She said the attackers also took his cell phone, which her husband had at the time of the crime.
“When I got close to my husband, he was already in a pool of blood. Then some people nearby called the fire department. He died in the ambulance after several pauses in breathing,” she says.
“They came back with knives, an iron bar, shovel and came back to attack us. There was no discussion. There came on top of each of one of us four, and the rest were all over my husband, and they began to stab him.” According to her, most appeared to be teenagers, “between 16 and 17 years maximum.” (1)
Sterlin was injured in the arm, chest, abdomen, face and back, according to the fire department. Another Haitian who was with him was also injured during the attack, but without gravity. The others managed to run or protect themselves from the aggressions.
Shortly after the crime, a 16-year old was admitted to hospital with an injured knee. According to the Military Police, it would have been hit during a fight in the same neighborhood. The young man was sent to the police station and recognized by Vanessa as one of those involved in the fight.
The Civil Police said the teenager was heard and released. According to the chief Coronha, the youth denied the attacks, but his testimony was contradictory. Others involved in the crime have not been identified.
Xenophobia would have motivated crime, says wife
To the victim’s wife Vanessa, the crime was totally xenophobic. According to her, Sterlin didn’t have disagreements and even knew the people who assaulted him. She explains that her husband was very quiet and worked as a naval insulator at a shipyard in the city. The two met two years ago and since then, had lived together.
“He was very correct, never had an argument. But it’s very common they (Haitians) are insulted on the street, it just never reached this point. We want these people to be arrested. The Civil Police is giving us all the necessary support,” she says.
The director of the Associação de Haitianos de Navegantes (Haitian Association of Navegantes), João Edson Fagundes, said that a serious incident like this has never been registered in the city, where about 250 Haitians are residing.
“In general, we are well received by Brazilians. They had the misfortune of coming across this gang. We will seek justice so that it does not go unpunished,” he guarantees. But also according to Fagundes, this was not the first attack on Haitians in the city.
“He was the first Haitian murdered here in the region [Vale do Itajaí], but last year, another guy was shot five times and survived, but soon left Brazil,” he reported. He suspects that it was a case of xenophobia.
Sterlin and Vanessa met two years ago in Navegantes. He had been in Brazil for four years and had lived in the states of Pará and São Paulo previously. The Sterlin family currently lives in the United States.
The burial of Sterlin’s body should take place in Navegantes, but has not yet scheduled. As the victim was not officially married, only one first-degree relative can make the release of the body at the Medical Legal Institute.
- One thing that should be noted here is that neither the victim’s wife nor initial police reports made any mention of the race of the assailants. It should be pointed out that Santa Catarina is one of the states in Brazil with the largest percentages of people who classify themselves as white. For more on this factor, see here, here and here.