After perusing proposed amendments to the Brazilian Penal Code to typify the crime of “militia membership.” let us return to a recent example of what we are talking about.
June 11, 2013 — Fearing the power of the militias, directors of the van cooperative Rio da Prata, which operates in the Western Zone of Rio, have requested audiences with the state public safety secretary, Beltrame; the mayor, Eduardo Paes; and state deputy Marcelo Freixo, who presides over the human rights commission of ALERJ.
ALERJ: The state legislative assembly of Rio de Janeiro. Freixo, of the PSOL, did an admirable job chairing a state commission on militia. And he remains alive.
Cooperative participants will pay a higher price for security while working in the region. The request was made after the assassination of Rodrigo César Conceição, killed with four shots at point-blank range because he would not accept paying a bribe to a group of militiamen. Rodrigo was buried on June 10 at the Jardim da Saudade cemetery, in Sulacap.
The driver was killed on Saturday night in a bar near the final stop on his line, in Cosmos. Other motorists, who said they were fearful of identifying themselves, say he was buying a snack when four armed men entered and shot into the air to drive away the persons present. Next, they shot the driver in the head. Now lying on the floor of the bar, he was shot three more times. The suspects fled on foot.
According to the president of the Rio Prata coop, César Moraes Gouveia, Rodrigo was killed for refusing to submit to the militia’s attempt to charge him R$150 a day to drive the Cosmos-Cascadura line.
In a follow-up, G1 identified the coopted van lines as “Cosmos x Cascadura, Sepetiba x Marechal Hermes, Santa Cruz x Coelho Neto and Nova Sepetiba x Coelho Neto.”
“He died because he represented resistance. He had been hassled since October. Last week, I told him myself to get out of Cosmos because of the threats. He even talked it over with the family. But we cannot change our lives around just like that. He was a resident of our neighborhood,” said Gouveia, who recalls that the driver left behind a widow and four young children.
The Cooperativa Rio da Prata, says its president, is one of the biggest in the city, with 700 vans and 2,000 employees. It operates mainly in the Western Zone.
“We have complained to the state prosecutors about the threats. The police never did a thing about it. The militia members themselves say that everything from Campo Grande to Sepetiba is their turf. The result of our struggle to work honestly is this: If you refuse to pay them, they kill you. They have driven off a lot of drivers from other van lines as well, and nothing was done. We are not at war with the militia because we lack the weapons, so we use our civil rights,” said the coop president.
Other motorists at the coop say that militiamen arrive armed and wearing ski masks, then announce that to drive a specific line, the driver must leave the coop and work for them. At first, they charge an administrative fee at least R$ 100 lower, but they offer no services, such as medical care, legal advice, or mechanic service, which Rio da Prata does provide. Later, the militias upped the weekly bribe from R$100 to $R400, calling it an administrative tax.
Starting June 11, representatives of the coop will try to get a meeting with the mayor, Eduardo Paes, public safety secretary Beltrame, and state deputy Freixo. They want more seccure working conditions in the Western Zone.
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