CLASSIFIEDS ONLY THB 2,500 + VAT FOR 3 LANGUAGES The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

From vigilantes to gangsters

BRAZIL: They’re seldom mentioned by officials and are almost never identified, but paramilitary groups are increasingly embedded in Rio de Janeiro – and, with the slaying of a prominent politician last month, are ever more brazen.

crime, corruption, death, drugs, murder, police, violence,


AFP

Sunday 6 May 2018, 02:00PM


A woman carries her child past military police patrolling one of Rio’s poorest neighbourhoods, where pervasive violence is being blamed not only on drug gangs but on the increasingly powerful vigilante groups that sprang up to fight them. Photo: Carl de Souza / AFP
A woman carries her child past military police patrolling one of Rio’s poorest neighbourhoods, where pervasive violence is being blamed not only on drug gangs but on the increasingly powerful vigilante groups that sprang up to fight them. Photo: Carl de Souza / AFP

When Marielle Franco, an outspoken activist for the rights of poor blacks in Rio’s violence-plagued favelas, was gunned down, the most unusual thing was that authorities firmly pointed the finger at the paramilitaries, or “militias” as they’re known locally.

Murders happen all the time in Rio de Janeiro state. There were 15 homicides a day in the first two months of the year, according to the Public Security Institute.

But with the focus nearly always on the drug gangs controlling swaths of the favelas, killings by militias – shadowy groups of ex-police and serving officers gone rogue – mostly pass under the radar.

Franco’s killing, which was conducted in a chillingly professional manner, changed that. Franco had made a name for herself criticising what she said were police death squads in the favelas and now, in a deliberate and public way, she had been silenced.

“What they did to Marielle showed that what’s happening in Rio is very serious,” said leftist legislator Marcelo Freixo, who oversaw a congressional committee, joined by Franco, seeking to lift the lid on militia activities.

And six weeks after the killing, police have yet to make any arrests – more proof, critics say, of the militias’ heavy hand.

Ironically, when the militias first formed around the year 2000, they were seen as an attempt to save Brazil’s second biggest city from the ravages of drug gangs.

Uniformed police were unable to cope, and so vigilantes with close links to the police stepped in. The city authorities did nothing to stop them, seeing the loosely organised groups as far preferable to the dreaded narcos.

But like an out-of-control Frankenstein monster, the militias gradually morphed from neighbourhood protection into mafia-like protection rackets, using their muscle and expertise not only to fight drug gangs but to replace them as rulers of the local streets.

And from the streets, the militias have extended their influence into politics, all the while preventing the Brazilian media from daring to dig too far into their activities.

Their ranks are filled with current and former members of the police, firefighters, prison staff and soldiers, who tout their mission as “bringing morals and cleaning out the drug dealers”, said sociologist Thais Duarte, an expert on the phenomenon.

Look back far enough, and you can trace the origins of today’s militias to the underground death squads doing dirty work for the dictatorship between 1964 and 1985, said Jose Claudio Souza Alves at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro.

QSI International School Phuket

But today their principal role has veered into the commercial, making them more like mafia gangs than anything else.

In their strongholds of western Rio they control distribution of cooking gas, the internet, cable television and local transport. In this way, a single militia group can earn an estimated $7 million (B220.64mn) a month, experts say.

And because of their law enforcement links they are rarely brought to justice. They are “deeply rooted in the state apparatus,” Duarte said.

“Militias have a different political and social capital to the traffickers,” she added. “Traffickers have those negative stereotypes of being normally black and from favelas, while the militias are better off, they’re white and older. All this gives them legitimacy.”

The militias’ protection rackets extend into politics, and they’re not afraid to back up their threats.

“The militias sell votes in whole areas. They can offer a candidate control if he pays them and agrees not to get in their way,” Alves explained.

But that’s not all: “They have campaigned themselves, and once they are in office they are able to get total control,” he said.

Those ambitions broke into the open in 2016 municipal elections when more than a dozen candidates were murdered, including one known as “Falcon”, who also served as president of one of Rio’s famed samba schools.

Whether Franco’s murder will change anything for the militias remains to be seen.

As far back as 2008, they were blamed for kidnapping and torturing journalists from O Dia newspaper, a case that prompted a major investigation and arrests of some leaders. However, the paramilitaries overall continue to flourish.

“The only way to fight the militias is to attack their economic base,” Souza said.

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:

Comments Left: Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail: (No Hotmail, Live, MSN and Outlook accepted at this time)
Security:
   => Forget password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


Emerald Group CEO Sawit Ketroj seeks to reassure Phuket public, investors

Neither sad nor bitter,it's more like being very amused when reading something like:"The reason i rent is because these people can't sell...(Read More)


Dead or alive, search for whale shark continues off Phuket

As I said this is what Thai fishing boats do, they destroy all marine life caught in their long line nets, zero regulation/ sustainability, authoritie...(Read More)


Dead or alive, search for whale shark continues off Phuket

So.. we can "expect the penalty against him to be very serious"...like, somewhere along the lines of Premchai the jaguar killer and soup mak...(Read More)


Dead or alive, search for whale shark continues off Phuket

5 more days searching. Who is paying for that? The owner or the Captain of the fishing boat? On top of a 100,000 thb fine or so? Must be more, as russ...(Read More)


Emerald Group CEO Sawit Ketroj seeks to reassure Phuket public, investors

DKP- you really are a sad and bitter person aren't you!The reason I rent is because these people CAN'T sell their properties and have to rent ...(Read More)


Dead or alive, search for whale shark continues off Phuket

A dead shark fall deep on bottom of the sea because it has not a swim bladder with air but use its fins to go up and down; So, the whale shark is on t...(Read More)


Public rallies banned for coup anniversary

Why is a unelected army Junta afraid of democratic peoples movements calling for democracy? Up to 3520 police officers to protect the few Junta Gener...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: Make them pay for plastic

You can't impose fines, because there is never anyone available to enforce anything. You have to sting them right at the point of purchase, and it...(Read More)


Phuket Governor orders public vote on marina project amid concerns over coral damage

Based on my experience after seeing many controversial projects, the main selling of a project is done by wealthy interests with no interest other tha...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: Make them pay for plastic

In developed countries, there is usually a charge of some kind for plastic. The money generated is then used to clean things up and process the trash...(Read More)

The Phuket News
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
World Entertainment
Photo Galleries
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2018 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.