Note from BW of Brazil: Note of Correction. The photo above is from January of 2010. A recent event from earlier this week has reminded many Brazilians that there was a similar incident that happened in 2010, featured in the photo above. In the February 3rd post featured in the original story from a few days ago, the writer reported that a similar incident had happened on a beach. Thus, it still remains true that the incident reported on the 3rd was the second of its kind in the same period.
Rio de Janeiro and the truculence that dehumanizes us
On January 9, 2010 on Avenida Pasteur, Botafogo, almost in front of the IBM building, bikers stripped and tied up a black man and tied him to a bar naked under the scorching sun, on the hot sidewalk for 40 minutes.
The apprehension of the man, whom the bikers accused of trying to steal a motorcycle, was made by a fireman from Salva-Mar. The firefighter untied the man and left him in the custody of the bikers. The police arrived and even slapped the man in his face.
The O Dia newspaper published the photo and report the following day. According to O Dia, two firefighters allegedly helped the group to strip and tie up the young man and a municipal guard who passed by on a motorcycle didn’t help the victim.
The authorities promised to investigate the incident. I doubt that they have done anything. It’s worth checking the steps taken to identify the fireman and the instigators of the atrocity. Everything was done under the cameras of City Hall. Images are not lacking. (See video)
Note from BW of Brazil: So what’s really going on in Rio as of late? Less than a week ago this blog reported a situation in which a young black male was found naked, beaten, wounded and tied to a pole by a bicycle lock around his neck. In that same post it was reported that that was actually the second time an incident of this kind happened. While photos of the previous incident have yet to surface, today we feature a prior incident that happened back in 2010; a black male, naked, tied to a pole, this time face time and left out in the burning Rio heat for about 40 minutes! As details and reactions continue to come out in regards to the second incident, another social debate in has arisen in Brazilian society; a topic that was approached in the original post. The question is this. Do you support vigilante revenge as a tactic to stop petty crime? Consider this under the context of a very segregated, class-oriented society in which the “haves” make it very clear that it doesn’t matter what advantages they may have used to attain privileges over the “have-nots”.
Also consider, as in the piece below, two very memorable scars on Brazilian history that can still be felt today. One, more than 350 years of the enslavement of African descendants and two, a brutal, 21 year military dictatorship that saw the repression, torture, murder and disappearing of thousands of Brazilians before this reign of terror ended in 1985. In the case of slavery, even having ended over 125 years ago, the second-class treatment of Afro-Brazilians remains woven into the fabric of the society. In the case of the dictatorship, political corruption and police brutality are but two on-going practices that make the public wonder if that era of terror really ended. The images of two black males tied to poles are reminiscent of both images from slavery as well as the many types of torture techniques used during the dictatorship. But I suppose this lynch mob mentality that has shown itself to still exist among certain strata of the society doesn’t really matter; after all, the World Cup is coming!
Please stay tuned as we continue to follow a new debate and the details as they become available!
Torture: 50 Years Later – What’s Changed?
By Danilo Firmino, for Agência de Notícias das Favelas
Last weekend was a busy one in Rio de Janeiro, my dear city, even from afar, I can’t stop living intensely every moment, the good, like Carnaval, Rio’s joy of a fighting, warrior people who hand over to luck itself huge traffic jams, falling walkways, and other things, and manage to be happy…
But unfortunately, like all other Cariocas (people from Rio) I also bleed with sad and barbaric moments that brutalize such a wonderful scene between the rocks, seas and forests that our city was forged, forged with a people, blacks and battlers, that only enriched more our blended culture to this exuberant nature where Indians lived in a crop abundance, before the white man arrived!
But the white man arrived, the Portuguese sailed, dominated land, exploited peoples and subjugated colonies, as this one called Brazil. But so many times have passed that we could even say that it is a thing of the past, a boring and cliché chat, leave the past where it should be, only in memory!
Well, this is how I wanted it! But when watching the scenes of last Friday (30) in the Flamengo neighborhood it’s impossible! A black boy, apparently his 16 years old, beaten, switchblade knife cuts on his body, and his cut ear, naked, tied to a pole by his neck with a bicycle lock!
We come to the facts that motivates this simple “outburst”, because in the year that one does not celebrate, because we don’t have anything to celebrate, but rather repudiate the 50th anniversary of the military coup that brought the greatest terror regime in this country after slavery in which journalists, workers, students, women, children and farmers, teachers and many others, were killed and tortured or exiled from this land solely for defending equality, a more just society for all. We looked at a young black man in the South Zone of Rio as if it were the days of slavery, attached to a pole in the public square to be tortured.
However, what confirms the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro that the boy tortured by a group calling themselves “Justiceiros (vigilantes) of Flamengo” has two notes in his criminal record for theft.
Yes, he could really be stealing, and therefore have to answer for his crimes, or better, what opportunities did he have to do differently? If until then, why didn’t the police that had identified him not seek to take his testimony as being a public victim of a public, heinous and vexatious crime, and crime against humanity.
And it is puzzling why this Tuesday (4), 14 of those that were deemed to be a group of nearly 30 middle class youth from South Zone Rio, were arrested and taken to the 9th District (Catete), some of them minors, all accused of torturing the young man on Friday, and other suspected for beating beggars and gays in the region as a complaint had been made in Botafogo last Sunday.
All of these allegations of a very serious nature are treated with extreme vigor by the Brazilian Penal Code and the Constitutional Charter of 1988 and all international human rights treaties to which Brazil is a signatory. Moreover, these 14 people were not fined for the crime that led to them being taken to the police station, and yes, the greatest (penalties) are for the crimes of conspiracy and corruption of minors.
All paid bail and are already free! And there is a logical and legal question to be asked: why were they not fined for the crime of torture and grievous bodily harm?
In an interview with O Dia newspaper, the deputy of the 9th district, Dr. Monique Vidal said that police were working to identify the perpetrators of the minor. “We are investigating and trying to identify those responsible. We look for the boys who are part of the gang and the teenager who is the victim and offender, since he has previous run-ins with police, to help identify them.” Vidal gave this interview before the arrest of the perpetrators. It is underlined something unfortunate; Vidal made a question of emphasizing that the victim is the offender while the others are only boys.
I return to the themes of what is past: we don’t punish the torturers of the past. Torture persists; we didn’t find Amarildo: there are already more deaths awaiting testimony. We resist the hard line years (1). We cannot go on as if we’ve already won in this democracy! What is necessary is more…
* Danilo Firmino is a member of the Central Sindical e Popular (Popular and Union Central)- Conlutas RJ and representative of the Association of Residents of Honório Gurgel
1. Translated here as the hard line years, the term used to describe the most brutally repressive of a 21 year military reign (1968-1974) is known as the “anos de chumbo”. The period is notable for the fierce fighting between extreme left-wing factions versus extreme right-wingers on one side, and on the other the repressive apparatus of the state military police eventually backed up by paramilitary organizations and large companies, having as a backdrop, the context of the Cold War. Source