The resurgence of violence in Brazil

August 10, 2022 – The recurrent violence in Brazil is the result of the unequal constitutive relations of Brazilian society caused by a policy of authoritarianism, exclusion and abandonment that touches on the areas of race, class and gender.

The upsurge in violence in Brazil has raised concerns among certain sectors of the state, organized grassroots civil society and the international community. The various forms of violence that permeate daily life in rural and urban conflict zones have marked the history of the poor and the working class as a whole. For these classes, violence occurs as a “response” to their various struggles, which are motivated by the denial of economic, territorial, cultural, racial, generational, political and gender dimensions, and the lack of recognition of their right to freedom. social organization to demand respect for their rights.

Acts of violence against the black population, the “landless”, the Indians, the ribereños [1]okupas, quilombolas [2], women, religious, trade union and political leaders have a very strong impact. It is no coincidence that it is in these collectives that violence is imposed. Leonilde de Medeiros, who analyzes the struggle for agrarian reform and the violence of the latifundio, declares: “to finish with the leadership is also to pretend to destroy a long process of preparation, education, production of new perceptions, generated within movements. Thus this violence does not affect a particular person but a symbol of resistance itself and the voice of a mobilizing utopia”.

The seriousness of the threat to democratic values ​​for the integrity and peace of Brazilian citizens is worrying and unacceptable for political institutions and for public freedoms. According to the RPU Brazil-2022 Collective report, Brazil is still one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders, in particular for environmental defenders and transgender people.

Over the years, the violence has been denounced by various sectors of society. Data on conflicts in rural areas, collected by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), has been of great help in denouncing and revealing the violence present in the struggle for land and territory. In 2021, 1768 conflicts erupted in rural areas, driven by claims for land, water and labour; in these recorded conflicts, the Indian peoples and the quilombolas were the most affected.

According to data published in the Census of Conflicts 2021, last year there was a 75% increase in the number of assassinations during rural conflicts in Brazil. The number of deaths caused by these conflicts has increased by 11%. The most affected is the Amazon region where historically the greatest number of conflicts and assassinations are concentrated in rural areas.

The increased violence against the Indian peoples, followed by repression, threats and deaths has also been a matter of great concern, as was the recent case of the shooting death of Márcio Moreira on July 14, during an ambush mounted against five Indians of the Guaraní Kaiowá people in the city of Amambai (MS). According to the latest report from the Indian Missionary Council (CIMI), the state of Matto Grosso do Sul concentrates the highest number of deaths in 2019. Of a total of 113 homicides, 40 took place in this state. According to the 2021 Atlas of Violence, between 2009 and 2019, a total of 2,074 killings of Indians took place.

In the urban space, the seriousness of violence against black people is reported, aggravated by structural racism: in 2019, black people represented 76% of homicide victims. From a generational perspective, it is worth highlighting the historical mortality by homicide of young black people in the country: according to a survey by the Sou da Paz Institute, between 2012 and 2019 the death rate of young black people was 6.5 times higher than that of the national rate.

In its territorial dimensions, violence of gender, race, class, generation and religious beliefs, compared to 83 countries, Brazil has an average rate of 4.8 murders per 100,000 women, and thus ranks 5ᵉ rank in the world ranking of feminicides, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (ACNUDH). According to the 2021 Atlas of Violence, 66% of women murdered in Brazil in 2019 were black. According to the Atlas of Violence 2021, between 2009 and 2019, in absolute numbers, there were 2,074 killings of Indians.

The increase in violence against the LGBTQI+ population has caught our attention: according to a survey by the Observatory of deaths and violence against LGBTQI+ people, around 316 LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other) people are deaths in Brazil, victims of violence in 2021. In the World Report on Transsexuality in Europe it is reported that, of the 325 murders of transgender people recorded in 71 countries, in the years 2016 and 2017, a total of 52% – or 171 cases – were perpetrated in Brazil.

In the area of ​​violence resulting in collective deaths, we cannot forget, among other cases, those of Candelária, Carandirú, Corumbiara, Eldorado, Carajás, Jacarezinho. As for massacres in rural areas, the CPT has recorded, until 2021, a total of 57 massacres in 11 Brazilian states. In the urban space, between 2021 and 2022, 40 massacres took place in Rio de Janeiro (including the most recent in the German compound on July 22) [3].

This brief presentation of some data concerning physical violence leading to death does not exclude other dimensions of violence that are present in different contexts, taking into account its thematic complexity and its conceptual diversity in relation to concrete situations. . These figures reveal the depth of the various forms of violence that permeate the struggle for the right to life and access to decent living conditions for social groups in both rural and urban areas.

With regard to the role of the Brazilian State in the face of these situations of aggravated violence, recent events indicate that its action goes in the opposite direction to the respect and defense of human dignity. It plays against collective rights, aggravating situations of violence and consolidating its structural dimension. In this sense Minayo and Souza specify that “the partisans of the repressive force of the State, ignoring the complex causes of violence, reduce the conception of this phenomenon to delinquency and tend to interpret it as the result of pathological behavior individuals. At the same time, they radicalize the authoritarian role of the state with regard to the socio-economic development of societies. The ideas of these intellectuals combine with common sense, which advocates repressive force as a condition for “order and progress”.

The recent events promoted by the top of the current Brazilian government that incite violence, permeate the deceptive discourse of order and progress, are a clear example of state manipulation and an attack on the democratic rule of law. In this sense, it is necessary to emphasize the function of violence as an emblematic instrument of economic and political domination over social groups in their various active constitutions. Violence is rooted in different sectors of society that perpetuate this violence in its complex realities.

It is also necessary to underline the violence which extends to the electoral process of Brazil, that of the violence exerted against Brazilian citizens in the free exercise of the choice of the democratic political representation. This is the case of the assassination of Marco Arruda [4]. I also recall the assassination of Marielle Franco [5]. These two cases have the motive of making impossible the consolidation of a democratic project of a country enslaved by the difficult organization of collective struggles. The denounced process, according to public demonstrations, is to render unattainable the freedoms guaranteed by the pillars of democracy, which translates into more deaths, prosecutions, threats and intimidation.

The concern that pushes us to confront violence in this context leads us to think that the recurrent violence in Brazil is the result of unequal constitutive relations of Brazilian society, encouraged by a policy of authoritarianism, exclusion, abandonment, which affects notions of race, class and gender. In the most diverse forms of intimidation, violence is used against all possibilities for human rights defenders, interlocutors, against their expectations for the application of rights in a democratic society and for the fight for a democratic society.

This reflection commits us, to make them understood, to consider the points of synergy of the cause and the reproduction of the violence opposed to the historical struggle of the peoples in a short, medium and long term action. It also allows us to situate these struggles, constitutive of rights, in a regional dimension and in its interrelation with the resistances for the construction of peace in the Latin American environment.

French translation of Francoise Couedel.

Source (Spanish):

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The resurgence of violence in Brazil – AlterInfos