Death squads terrorize Rio de Janeiro as Brazil readies for World Cup. Brazil is a nation where police kill more suspects than in any other nation in the world. Police in Rio de Janeiro killed one suspect for every 229 they arrested last year. In the United States, police killed one suspect for every 31,575 they arrested. In 2008 police in Rio de Janeiro, alone, killed an astonishing 1,137 people, whereas in the entire United States police killed 371 people. These are just the official numbers. Fifteen people go missing every day in Rio de Janeiro. Last year nearly 5,000 people went missing. Many people blame the police.
Many have questioned the decision to the hold the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia this winter. Many felt that Russia was an inappropriate host for the Olympics, for its long history of human rights violations, intolerance of gay rights, and its proximity to the terror war in the Caucuses. In retrospect, these complaints are petty in comparison to the 2016 host city of the Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro. In fact, many people believe the huge spike in police terror in Rio de Janeiro, is directly attributable to being named host city for both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. A 2008 United Nations report found that Brazilian police were responsible for a significant portion of the country’s 48,000 slayings the year before.
Hosting the FIFA World Cup and Summer Olympics should be a proud accomplishments for most Brazilians. But, it has been a nightmare for the nearly 1.5 million impoverished residents of the favelas (shanty towns) that surround Rio de Janeiro. Many are terrorized daily by police death squads as Brazil readies for this summer’s World Cup. Brazil has been long in the process of clearing many of its poorest citizens from these neighborhoods, in preparation for the World Cup and Olympics. Human Rights Watch, who investigate human rights abuses around the world, reported that law enforcement is committing unlawful killings and using extensive use of force in clearing the favelas. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and thousands have been forced to relocate to housing projects many miles away.
Death squads first appeared in Brazil in the 1960’s. They were called Esquadrao de Morte, which literally means death squad. Death squads are often associated with political repression against the opposition, usually by a military dictatorship. In Brazil, the modus operandi of the death squad appears to deviate from the norm. The police conduct extrajudicial killings as a form of crime control. In Rio de Janeiro, it would not be uncommon for a police officer to summarily execute a street kid for the simple crime of shoplifting. In fact, the murder rate in Rio de Janeiro has declined. But it appears to be offset by the dramatic increase in missing persons.
Death squads terrorize Rio de Janeiro as Brazil readies for World Cup. The association of the words death squad seem out place, when associated with great international sporting events, such as the World Cup or Olympics. But nonetheless, Brazil is the only five time World Cup champion, and is certainly entitled to host the FIFA World Cup. With that said, would we not have Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in Detroit because of Detroit’s high crime rate.? Absolutely not.
Opinion by John J. Poltonowicz