Rio: “Militias Arrive in the Baixada Fluminense and Menace Farmers”

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Publicly traded, goverment-controlled, multinational, socially and culturally engaged. Are paramilitary protection rackets trying to dump on the federal firm that controls the pump? Could prove to be a case for the Darwin Awards.

Milícia chega à Baixada e ameaça agricultores: the O Globo daily (Rio de Janeiro) reports that militias extorting rural producers are an emergent phenomenon in rural areas of the state.

I tend to approach this way of framing such stories with prior skepticism. See also

But let us have a read and see. And more power to O Globo reporters who are being allowed to cover such risky stories, in any event.

RIO – Agricultores da área rural de Nova Iguaçu, integrantes de um projeto de hortas comunitárias patrocinado pela Petrobras, estão sofrendo ameaças de uma milícia que se articula na região da Posse. A situação é motivo de preocupação na estatal e foi tema de reunião nesta sexta-feira. O projeto de agricultura orgânica, na comunidade Gerard Danom, é desenvolvido às margens de dutos de combustível. Segundo a polícia, o grupo miliciano poderia ter também agentes de segurança do estado. Seus membros exigem dinheiro em troca de “proteção” e, só esta semana, destruíram duas vezes plantações e instalações da comunidade.

Farmers in the rural districts of Nova Iguaçu, members of a community gardens project sponsored by the state-owned energy firm, Petrobras, are suffering threats from a militia that is emerging in the Posse region. The situation is a cause for concern at Petrobras and was the topic of a meeting held Friday. The organic agriculture project in the Gerard Danom community is being carried out alongside the routes of fuel pipelines.

Meaning that they are on federal property?

Providing a pretext for asserting federal jurisdiction?

You just saw the carabinieri-like National Public Security Force (FNSP) sent to the periphery of Brasília this week, for example, after a journalist was shot there. He lived, thank goodness. Now, what the hell did he think he was doing out there again, anyway?

This option to partially federalize public safety, wherever police corruption or lack of local resources are generating a crisis, is a fairly recent innovation.

Think Lester Maddox, George Wallace, and the KKK, on the one hand, and Bobby Kennedy and the FBI on the other.

Similar dynamic, I think you could fairly say.

My own view is that it would be nice if the strategy actually worked.

Larry Rohter of the New York Times — who has repeatedly referred, with his characteristic gabbling inaccuracy, to the paramilitary FNSP, which is a special ministerial police agency of the civililan Ministry of Justice, as “soldiers” — often seems to disagree.

Na região da Posse, cerca de 20 hortas comunitárias foram destruídas no domingo e anteontem. Instalações hidráulicas e elétricas, além de cercas, também vieram abaixo. Cada família recebe mensalmente R$ 500, em média, pela venda de produtos para a merenda, e outros R$ 150 de participação na comercialização em feiras livres. Diante das ameaças, quase todos pensaram em abandonar o projeto.

In the Posse region, some 20 community gardens were destroyed last Sunday and the day before yesterday. Hydraulic and electrical installations, as well as fences, were also wrecked. Each family receives R$500, on average, from selling their produce to wholesalers, and another R$150 from selling the produce in farmer’s markets. Faced with militia threats, almost all are thinking of abandoning the project.

Em nota, a Petrobras disse acompanhar “com atenção” a situação envolvendo o projeto Agricultura Familiar na Região de Dutos. Segundo a estatal, na reunião de ontem foram reunidos dados sobre os incidentes. A Petrobras afirmou que esse foi o único caso de ação predatória nas hortas desenvolvidas em Nova Iguaçu.

In a press release, Petrobras said it is following the situation of the family agriculture project “intently.” According to the state-owned energy firm, at the meeting held yesterday, data was collected on the incidents. Petrobras said this is the only case of predatory behavior affecting the garden project in Nova Iguaũ.

The rest — most notably the who of this purported “militia,” and the why of attributing the vandalism to a paramilitary protection racket and death squad, generally run by moonlighting police and firemen and involving significant synergies with their day job — is for subscribers to the paper.

Let me see if other news sources are picking up on the story.

Meanwhile, O Globo explains the participation of firemen — they are part of the same military organization as military police, but their proximity to that problematic police force is not discussed here — in criminal activities as follows:

RIO – Por causa do déficit em seus quadros, a Polícia Civil, nos últimos anos, procurou reforço de pessoal nos quartéis de bombeiros. Para eles, a convivência com policias civis, cujos desvios de conduta sobrecarregam as corregedorias, pode estar por trás do aumento do número de bombeiros investigados por envolvimento com atividades criminosas, como a participação em grupos de milícia.

Because of a shortage of manpower, the state judicial police in recent years has sought reinforcements in the fire stations. For firemen, close contact with state judicial policemen, whose misconduct overwhelms the internal affairs departments, may be behind the increasing number of firemen investigated for involvement in criminal activities, such as participation in “militias.”

The Policia Civil are corrupting the firemen!

Os bombeiros cedidos ganharam o apelido de “polícia paraguaia”, pois segundo investigações da Corregedoria Geral Unificada (CGU), eles, apesar de serem convocados para trabalhar em atividades administrativas, acabam sendo lotados em delegacias, inclusive especializadas, e vão para as ruas investigar crimes sem ter recebido qualquer treinamento para exercer a função.

The fireman seconded to the police department received the nickname “The Paraguayan Police Force,” because, according to investigations by the unified internal affairs department (CGU), though they are brought in to work in administrative roles, they wind up assigned to police precincts — including specialized precincts [such as Homicide, Robbert, Narcotics, I imagine they mean] and go out on the streets to investigate crime, without having received any training for that role.

– Delegacia não apaga incêndio. Quem tem atribuição de fazer o papel de Polícia Judiciária é o policial civil, que deve ser valorizado.É claro que este tipo de prática vai gerar mais distorções – critica Fernando Bandeira, presidente do Sindicato dos Policiais Civis.

“A police precinct does not put out fires. The policia civil are the ones with the authority to fulfill the role of judicial police, which needs to be better supported. Obviously this type of practice will create more distortions,” says Bandeira, president of the state judicial police union.

Firemen were busted impersonating federal police in a bid to kidnap and rob a Barra de Tijuca moneychanger recently, you recall.

O Globo‘s Jorge Antonio “The Crime Reporter” Barros has this comment:

Milícia X Petrobras: Agora as milícias enfim vão sofrer conseqüência de sua ação criminosa. Tocaram na Petrobras, uma das maiores empresas do país. Uma milícia em Nova Iguaçu tentou enquadrar agricultores de hortas comunitárias de um projeto da Petrobras. A Polícia Federal certamente terá que entrar na investigação. Como diz o provérbio popular, há males que vem pra bem. A milícia que se prepare porque a giripoca vai cantar. Infelizmente, na grande maioria dos casos, segurança pública no Brasil ainda é segurança de estado e quase sempre tem como prioridade o poder econômico.

Militias vs. Petrobras: The militias are finally going to suffer the consequences of their criminal activity. They messed with Petrobras, one of the biggest corporations in Brazil. A militia in Nova Iguaçu tried to squeeze farmers in communal gardens sponsored by Petrobras. The federal police will certainly have to get involved in the case. As the popular proverb goes, there are some ills that produce good. The militia better get ready because [the joint is gonna start jumping.] Unfortunately, in most cases, public security in Brazil is still a matter of state security, and almost always has protecting economic power as its top priority.

That is, is mostly focused on protecting the State, rather than — or from, often — the public.

I had some of the same first reactions. Those peasants you think you can exploit happen to be personal friends and pet social poster children of Petrobras shareholders (which we are, actually, indirectly, though an ETF, and on a very modest scale)!

Who throw money around with great gusto to try to make social problems — like militias, and unemployment among film school graduates and talented cavaquinho pluckers — go away!

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