Note from BW of Brazil: The term “genocídio negro”, meaning ‘black genocide’ is not new when speaking of the experiences of Brazil’s African descendants. Abdias do Nascimento, Brazil’s greatest modern day black leader, released a book in 1978 entitled O Genocídio do negro brasileiro: Processo de um Racismo Mascarado (The Genocide of the Brazilian Negro: The Process of a Masked Racism), in which he detailed the violence and abuse with which Brazilian society dealt with its black population. In classic Brazilian fashion, government officials did everything to deny Nascimento’s criticisms and maintain its image as a so-called “racial democracy”.
At the time, Nascimento was in Nigeria participating in the World Festival of Black Art and Culture and, as they couldn’t have Nascimento presenting such a book that would rip the mask off of the myth, he was banned from presenting the work while Professor Fernando A. A. Mourão was allowed to speak and disseminate the idea that Brazil had solved the issue of racism. Interesting that he would even say that, as Brazil was supposedly already a place of “harmonious, racial co-existence.”
Nascimento was forbidden to speak, but he still managed to get this book released. Well, here it is 41 years later, and I would say that that book is even more relevent today than it was back then. Military Police in large cities such as Salvador, São Paulo Rio de Janeiro, Recife and other cities routinely kill between 500-1,400 people, with the vast majority having black and brown skin. On top of that, it is a documented fact that death squads and extermination groups routinely kill hundreds more and you can guess what most of their victims look like.
Now Brazil has a president who has stated openly that he will give police forces carte blanche to KILL MORE. Recently, this same president, Jair Bolsonaro, responded to the Brazilian Army killing a 51-year black man after taking 80 shots at his car by saying that the Army “didn’t kill anyone”. And then we have Bolsonaro’s Minister of Justice, Sérgio Moro, presenting a bill to fight crime, violence and corruption that has been running rampant in Brazil for several years.
Thinking of the proposal, one would automatically conclude that such a bill would be a great idea in a country where most people don’t really feel safe. But the devil is in the details. For experts on public polices who have analyed the proposal, the wording could present a method in which security agents could actually get away with killing more people than they already do now.
To understand what this could mean for Brazilians, particularly black and poor, check the details below.
Anti-corruption package divides deputies
Courtesy of the Câmara dos Deputados website
While the opposition speaks of “license to kill,” government officials consider proposals essential for reducing crime
For some, the projects will treat “crooks like crooks”; for others, the proposals would be a “smokescreen” for an unpopular agenda
In Plenary, the leader of the government, Deputy Major Vitor Hugo (PSL-GO), celebrated the arrival of the package to Congress on Tuesday, February 19. For him, the proposals aim to combat the chaotic state of public security.
“There are over 70,000 people killed, who died violently; more than 50 thousand Brazilian victims of rape; more than 1 million thefts and car thefts. So at this moment, the anti-crime package laws constructed by Minister Sergio Moro is extremely timely and will enable Parliament to decide the future of our public security,” he said.
Deputy Ubiratan Sanderson (PSL-RS) praised the proposals, which he estimates will be a serious blow against white collar crime and violence in Brazil. He considers the anti-crime package as important as pension reform. “We are proposing a new Brazil, a Brazil that will treat a crook like crook, corrupt like corrupt, a criminal against the state as a criminal against the state”.
Deputy Colonel Tadeu (PSL-SP) believes that the proposals are correct and will be capable of containing the increase in crime in Brazil. “A crook will not get any slack from now on. The proposals that are coming really put the finger on the real wound, make life difficult for those who want to circumvent the law by hiding in resources, shielding themselves in interpretations.”
License to kill
Rep. Reginaldo Lopes (PT-MG), who in the last legislature presided over the CPI of violence against black and poor youth, said that in three moments, the bill “gives authorization to kill: by offering judicial forgiveness for abuse of power, followed by death and also for self-defense.”
He considered the proposals absurd and believes that this model will increase violence in the country. “We have to remember that Brazil is the country that kills the most in the world, in the vast majority, blacks. Therefore, this House has to deepen this debate,” he said.
Representative Marcelo Nilo (PSB-BA) pointed out positive and negative points in the proposals. He praised, for example, the creation of the figure of the “good informer.” “I think this informant is fundamental, since he has not committed any crime, and can give information so that resources can be brought back to the state, penalizing people who have committed irregularities.” Nilo also said he was in favor of reducing temporary exits.
He regretted, however, the possibility of creating “a license to kill”. “Civilian, military police officer cannot commit a crime and be acquitted without any judgment, without any decision, without any discussion. Any crime has to be discussed, if there was self-defense, if one really killed for revenge. But a judge cannot acquit without a trial, without a judicial discussion,” he said.
Glauber Braga (Psol-RJ) has said that in broadening the penal state’s agenda, the government wants to create a “smokescreen for an agenda that is highly unpopular, that of dismantling the Brazilian state in its social guarantees,” with Social Security reform, labor reform and rounds of privatizations.”
The anti-crime and anti-corruption package of the federal government proposes amendments to 14 laws through three proposals: a bill that deals with various issues, such as changes in the rules of self-defense and imprisonment after second-instance conviction; a specific bill to criminalize the practice of slush funds; and a complementary bill with changes in electoral legislation.
Anti-crime package: ”Moro is just a message boy of the Courts to formalize anti-Black genocide”
By Simone Freire
According to a lawyer and researcher Dina Alves, the package “is anti-democratic, unconstitutional and anti-black in all its aspects.”
More prisons, more penalties in a closed regime, less access to resources and less prescription of crimes. These are some of the measures of the package of the Minister of Justice, Sergio Moro, presented on Monday, February 4, to governors and secretaries of Public Security.
The initiative follows the campaign promises of President Jair Bolsonaro (PSL), whose conservative speech won the last elections, also leading a significant group of lawmakers to the House and Senate.
However, the package is viewed with fear by experts, human rights defenders and militants of the black movement. This because the new measures, to which they indicate, should affect, mainly, the black and peripheral population of the country.
To talk about the subject, the Alma Preta site interviewed the lawyer and researcher Dina Alves, whose study explores the prison system in Brazil through the intersectional bias. “The license to kill is a priority of the Bolsonaro government. Sérgio Moro is just a message boy of the Courts to formalize and democratize the anti-black genocide,” she says.
Check out the interview:
The black and peripheral population in all of this
Moro’s anti-crime package is contrary to social movements, especially to the black movement, because it expresses a public security management based on anti-blackness. A package that promises to increase penalties, a fact that worsens the conditions of regime progression, increases the prison population, the lethality of black and poor young people through police intervention, increased poverty and social vulnerability rates.
The prisons are full and we know that the crimes that most motivate prisons are patrimonial and drugs, which together amount to about 70% of the causes of prisons. Those arrested as traffickers are mostly young and black women who work in retailing the illegal economy. These are the people affected by Moro’s necropolitical package.
Point To Point
The point of the project on the broadening of criminal assumptions to give carte blanche to the police to kill more, in other words, is to formalize deaths with legal support. The Penal Code already exempts police guilt through assumptions such as “strict compliance with legal duty.” The package increases the number of hypotheses that already exist in the Penal Code and that fall within the category of self-defense to push things under the rug for the police.
Also worrying is the subjective terms used by the minister to exempt from liability or reduce the sentences of policemen who kill. For example, the terms “unnecessary fear, surprise or violent emotion”. What is term “violent emotion” for a highly racist institution, such as the police? I ask this because we are talking about a police that kills people considered “suspicious” using an umbrella, wearing a school uniform, chuchu (legume).
We are talking about 63,880 violent deaths in 2017, the highest number of homicides in the history of Brazil. Within this account we need to consider the lethality of the police in the Brazilian states that increased 20% in 2017: 5,144 people were killed as a result of interventions by civilian and military police. That’s 14 killed by police per day.
Another point that I would like to point out is the resurgence of penalties. This measure will worsen the conditions of regime progression. We already have the third largest prison population in the world. Today, it borders on approximately 800 thousand people confined in cells, living with rats and cockroaches, curable diseases, without any respect to their dignities. The measure also points to the merits of the convicted person and, once again, subjective elements of the judge as a possibility for progression of the system.
What should we pay attention to?
The point of the “good whistleblower,” as it seems to me is it serves to make laranjas (fall guys) take responsibility for the crimes of politicians, such as in the Queiroz case [former adviser to Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, son of the president, investigated for suspicious financial moves].
It also seems to me that these measures are also to justify unnecessary expenditure. In 2017, the Union spent R$ 9.7 billion, an increase of 6.9%, with public security. The states spent R$ 69.8 billion, a growth of 0.2%. It was precisely this year that violence rates increased, especially against women. Femicide increased by 6.1% compared to 2016 and the number of rapes also increased by 8.4% compared to 2016.
The package also mutes effectiveness and investment in investigations of crimes committed by police officers. Almost 100% of police investigations charged with homicides are filed under the allegation that there is no evidence. The minister is concerned with investigating minor offenses committed by a majority of young slum dwellers recruited for the crime or who commit petty offenses using invasive and embarrassing methods.
In addition, the issue on investment in investigation of cases of political disappearances is silenced in the package. The absolute number has grown from 81,176 in 2016 to 82,684 in 2017. How can the Brazilian State ignore this important issue that has a negative legacy on the disappeared of the military dictatorship and of the disappeared ones of the democracy?
So this is an anti-democratic package, unconstitutional and anti-black in all its aspects. It is because there has not been a wide debate on a topic that is so dear to us, or because it affects, purposefully and intentionally, the most vulnerable population, the black population.