“The Jornal do Brazil and the Militias of Rio”

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“What the military thinks about …. populism in Latin American; the Chávez arms build-up; combating crime in the streets.”

“The execution of Felix Tostes has once and for while destroyed the theory that militias bring peace to communities,” said Rio de Janeiro state public security secretary Beltrame.

A study conducted by the O Globo newspaper after the elections in 35 communities dominated by paramilitary groups showed that in 80% of them at least one policeman, fireman or retired soldier received a large number of votes.

Jornal do Brasil e as milícias no Rio de Janeiro: “The Jornal do Brazil and the Militias of Rio.” The letter to the editor is by communications student Carlos Leal.

Enquanto estudante de comunicação e leitor do Jornal do Brasil há mais de 10 anos, fiquei indignado com as reportagens feitas na edição de domingo (28/1/2007 [sic])* sobre a atuação de milícias paramilitares em bairros pobres e favelas do Rio de Janeiro. Seria de se esperar que um jornal com a tradição do JB adotasse uma abordagem que contextualizasse a gravidade e o absurdo da situação em que se encontra a segurança pública do Rio de Janeiro.

As a student of communications and a reader of the JB for more than 10 years, I was indignant at the reporting published in the Sunday edition … about the activiteis of paramilitary militias in poor neighborhoods and shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro. One would hope that a paper with the tradition that the JB has would adopt a treatment that would contexualize the seriousness and the absurdity of the situation in which public security in Rio finds itself.

Em um momento em que a população pobre de nosso Estado vive submetida à tirania dos traficantes de droga por um lado e do autoritarismo policial por outro, em que a criminalidade assola toda a população, em que um setor expressivo dos órgãos de segurança do Estado (principalmente as polícias civil e militar) avança em seu grau de degeneração e de corrupção tornando-se praticamente co-agente da criminalidade, observamos o surgimento das milícias enquanto expoente máximo de todo esse processo.

At a time when the poor population of our state lives in submission to the tyranny of the drug traffic on one side and police authoritarianism on the other, in which the entire population is affected by crime, and in which a substantial portion of the state agencies (especially the military and state judicial police) grow increasingly degenerate and corrupt to the point where they are practically partners in crime themselves, we are seeing the emergence of the militias as the culmination of the entire process.

Um Estado que mantém setores expressivos da população submetidos aos mais degradantes níveis de miséria, sem direito aos serviços mais básicos como saúde, educação e saneamento básico, observa seus órgãos de segurança se transmutarem em forças ilegais que passam a ingerir de forma absolutamente autoritária e claramente ilegal sobre a população, extorquindo-a e repetindo o modelo de terror já utilizado por traficantes.

A State that maintains large sectors of the population subject to the most degrading levels of poverty, with no right to such basic services as health, education and basic sanitation, watches its security forces degenerate into illegal armed groups that begin to interfere in an absolutely authoritarian and clearly illegal manner in people’s lives, extorting them and repeating the model of terror already used by the traffic.

Ao invés de declarações públicas das autoridades explicitando a gravidade da situação e se comprometendo em resolvê-la, o que observamos é um silêncio oficial que mal esconde a aprovação de setores significativos das autoridades públicas, civis e militares, da transformação das forças de segurança pública em quadrilhas organizadas para extorquir a população. E, de fato, quando não estão em silêncio, as declarações das entidades ligadas aos órgãos de segurança apontam para uma aprovação dessa transformação de setores significativos do exército e da policia em quadrilhas.

Rather than public statements by authorities, explaining the seriousness of the situation and promising to resolve it, what we see is official silence that scarcely conceals the approval of a significant number of public officials, both civilian and military, at the transformation of the police into organized gangs who extort the population. In fact, when they, too, are not remaining silent, the statements by organizations linked to security agencies point to approval of this transformation of significant portions of the army and police into gangs.

See also the O Globo (Rio) version of what does seem to be a concerted campaign:

Governor Cabral and his security secretary, to be fair, have at least made statements condemning and promising to prosecute illegal armed paramilitary groups, in comments on the assassination of Inspector Tostes.

Let me find that quote …

“The execution of Felix Tostes has once and for while destroyed the theory that militias bring peace to communities,” said Rio de Janeiro state public security secretary Beltrame.

See

Observamos na página A16 desta edição do JB o tenente-coronel Mário Sérgio de Brito Duarte, que ocupa cargo na Secretaria de Segurança Pública, afirmando – ou então a reportagem do JB dá a entender de forma leviana essa afirmação, o que não está explícito – em seu blog que as milícias “trazem benefícios”. Já a Associação dos Militares Auxiliares e Especialistas (Amae) e seu presidente dão apoio explícito às milícias, através de manifestos divulgados entre policiais da ativa e diz que elas existem há muitos anos de forma incipiente sobre a forma do xerifado. E conclui com um prognóstico que oscila entre caráter de neutralidade e aprovação.

On A16 of this edition of the JB we see Lt. Col. de Brito Duarte, an official in the state Secretary of Public Security, stating — or perhaps the JB’s reporting interprets this statement in a joking manner, since it is not explicit — on his blog that militias “bring benefits.” The AMAE, the Association of Auxiliary and Specialist Military Personnel and their president support the militias explicitly, through manifestos that circulate among active-duty personnel, saying that the militias have existed for years, in incipient form, in the form of the xerifado. And the article concludes with a prognosis that vacillates between an approving and a neutral tone.

Brito is a regular exponent of extreme conspiracist rhetoric who — this astonishes me — on his blog, regularly expresses an unwillingness to carry out the stated public policies of his boss.

NGOs dream of using the criminal power and the weapons of the traffic in favor of a social revolution they deem to be imminent and inevitable … It is needful for us not to heed their caveats, and to assume the risks and the collateral damage. It would be impossible to be more explicit than the words of Gov. Sergio Cabral about the narcotraffickers: “They are terrorists, they are evildoers.” – Col. Mário Sérgio de Brito Duarte, former commander of BOPE, the “trooper elite” of the Rio military police — unofficial but highly publicized motto: “We kill to create a better world” – and currently in charge of strategic planning for the state Secretary of Public Security (SSP), Rio de Janeiro. See also BOPE Blogs: “Only the Hard Men Can Save the City”

A book with a contrasting view, by a state civil police delegado, has recently been published — but it is impossible to get a copy. I have tried.

See also

Senior officers to Bush: We do not feel like invading Iraq, so we are not going to.

Bush had the authorization of Congress, so they went, even though some — Gen. Shinseki —  thought it was a very bad idea.

I was raised by an Army colonel, you know — spending the weekends at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro — and so it is incredibly hard for me to fathom this kind of behavior.

My granddad did not especially like Ike, for example.

But Ike told him to invade France. So he shut up and did.

Veja magazine’s cover story on “What the Military Men Think” last week was some sinister shit as well.

The specter of junior officers telling the chain of command to go fuck itself is not a pleasant thought at all in a constitutional democracy. But has been sort of the hallmark of modern Brazilian military discipline.

Take the entire issue of “The army will be called to intervene in the streets of Rio.” Senior military commanders came out against it. But the press, and some field and many “pyjamas” officers, militated hard for it.

The Brazilian press really does, from time to time, hand the gazillion-jigawatt megaphone to people who make actual, bona fide coup noises. Hard to believe, but it does.

A longo prazo, após o Pan, diz, as milícias vão-se consolidar por todo estado do Rio de Janeiro. Por fim, um capitão paraquedista do Exército, que dá depoimento na matéria na página A15, diz que o Exército já “analisa a situação”, e depois, também em tom de aprovação, diz que as milícias são parte da “doutrina do Exército”.

In the long term, after the Pan-American Games, it says, militias will consolidate their position in the entire state. At the end, a captain of the Army paratroops, who gives an interview in the article on page A15, said that the Army is “analyzing the situation,” and then, in a tone of approval, said that militias are a part of “Army doctrine.”

Para justificar isso cita o caso das “special forces” do exército norte-americano, que financiou, treinou e equipou diversas milícias – como os “contra” da Nicarágua, a Milícia Talibã do Afeganistão e a “Máfia de Berkley” da Polinésia, que dominou o Timor Leste durante anos. Todos os casos se trataram de intervenções também ilegais dos Estados Unidos que contrariaram todas as normas do direito internacional e, além disso, foram recordistas na promoção de genocídios e desrespeitos atrozes aos direitos humanos.

To justify this point, he cites the case of U.S. “special forces,” which finance, train and equip various militias — the Contras of Nicaragua, the Taliban of Afghanistan, and the Berkley Mafia of Polynesia, which dominated East Timor for years.

The Taliban? The Taliban?

I find it hard that a Brazilian army officer would speak of the case of the Taliban “in approving tones.” You have to go to college to get to be a captain, after all, as far as I know.

Just ask New Yorkers — especially guys like me who worked in the financial district (North Tower, 86th floor, 1999) — whether financing the Taliban and bin Laden was really such a good idea, in the final analysis. Or Saddam Hussein, for that matter. 

All these cases involve illegal interventions by the U.S., contravening all norms of international law, and furthermore, set records in the promotion of genocides and atrocious human rights violations.

Neste cenário todo, ao invés de demonstrar a gravidade, o perigo e o absurdo da situação, o JB em suas três matérias “Para os Bandidos, Verde é Desesperança” e “Associação defende grupos”, na página A16, e “Exercito está atento”, na página A15, o que observamos estarrecidos é que o JB adota uma postura de aparente indiferença frente à situação a partir de uma abordagem não valorativa da questão, o que aponta para uma implícita aprovação por parte do Jornal das milícias como maneira de resolver os problemas de segurança do Estado.

In this whole scenario, rather than showing its seriousness, its danger and its absurdity, the JB in its three articles — “For Bandits, Green Means Despair” and “Association Defends Groups,” on p. A16, and “The Army is Paying Attention,” on p. A15, what we observe, astonished, is that the JB adopts a posture of apparent indifference to the situation, based on a nonjudgmental treatment of the issue, which points to implicit approval by the newspaper of militias as a manner of resolving the problems of security in the state.

Isto deixa qualquer leitor minimamente esclarecido do jornal e que conheça a história do JB completamente estarrecido e indignado. Isso fica claro quando o jornal denomina de “trabalho” as atividades criminosas desenvolvidas pelas milícias como ocorre na matéria “Associação defende grupos”, página A16, equiparando as mesmas a um serviço promovido por um órgão público.

This leaves any halfway enlightened reader of the paper, who knows its history, completely astonished and indignant. This is clear when the newspaper terms the criminal activities of the militias “work,” as in the article “Association Defends Group,” on p. A16, equating these activities to the services provided by a public agency.

A obrigação do JB era de apontar o x do problema de maneira clara e contextualizada, relacionando o problema da degradação das condições vida nas favelas à ausência de serviços públicos elementares somados ao multimilionário mercado internacional das drogas que faz com que traficantes imponham um regime de terror às populações pobre, em primeiro momento, mas que se estende a toda população gradativamente; à degradação, sucateamento e corrupção da polícia que transforma a mesma em tirana da população pobre e co-agente da criminalidade, como já explicitou inúmeras vezes o renomado sociólogo e especialista em segurança pública Luis Eduardo Soares, e à ausência total de políticas públicas voltadas para combater esses problemas de forma articulada.

The JB’s obligation is to point to the crux of the problem in a clear, contextualized manner, relating the problem of the degraded conditions of live in the favela to the absence of basic public services, together with the billion-dollar international drug industry, which imposes a reign of terror on poor populations, first of all, but which extends to the entire population eventually, little by little: The degradation, undermining and corruption of the police that transforms the police into a tyranny over the poor and a criminal actor themselves, as the renowned sociologist and expert Luis Eduardo Soares has explained many times, as well as the total lack of public policy oriented toward combating these problems in a coherent way.

Ao invés disso o JB preferiu apontar como positivo a conversão das forças de segurança publica em agentes que atuam à margem do controle das entidades da sociedade civil e das autoridades civis do poder Legislativo, Judiciário e Executivo. Caminho esse que em toda a história só gerou episódios e experiências trágicas, bastando para isso lembrar a nossa história recente, quando, durante a ditadura militar, centenas e centenas de pessoas foram torturadas e assassinadas brutalmente por um aparato militar/policial – os esquadrões da morte – que atuava à margem de qualquer lei.

The JB, however, prefers to point to the conversion of public forces into agents who act outside the control of civil society and civilian authories in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as a good thing. A path that throughout our history has only produced tragic experiences. It is enough to think of our recent history during the military dictatorship, hundreds of persons brutally tortured and murdered by a police-military apparatus — the death squads — that acted completely outside the law.

See also

I will have a read of those articles myself, see if they say what our young journalism student says they say.

Was it maybe a print-only story? Look:

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