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Rio | By Any Means Necessary?


Source:  CartaCapital

Title: How Far Will Cabral’s Police Go?

By: José Antonio Lima — published 23/07/2013 12:56

Translation: Colin Brayton

Recent actions and statements by the PM-RJ reflect the governor’s policy of “against vandals, anything goes.

[photo caption]”Military police protect themselves from a firebomb thrown by a demonstrator in the area of the Palácio Guanabara, on Monday, July 22. The photographer who took the photo was later assaulted by a police officer.

In the news this morning is the decree by the Governor of Rio de Janeiro state creating a police task force specifically targeting vandals — from opportunistic looters to Black Blockers. I would have led  with the threats against a prominent police critic, as you will read further along.

The “angry” Twitter activity of the PMERJ — Rio military police — during the course of the event lashed out at OAB attorneys — the Brazilian ABA, if you will — for standing in the way of its work. This is a deeply rooted mentality: “You have rights only after I say you do.”

Eager to install his own successor as governor of Rio, and appealing to that portion of the population that applauds BOPE when it machine-guns drug dealers in the Alemão slums, Sergio Cabral is leading Rio down a dangerous path.

Recent acts and statements by Cabral have revealed the governor’s despotic side, which apparently has given the military police license to extend their activities to the richer neighborhoods of the city, subjecting them to the same authoritarianism practiced in the slums.

After the violent clash last week in Leblon — the most expensive square meter of real estate in Brazil — Cabral explained the problem of vandalism in Rio as Arab dictators do — placing the blame on “international organizations.”

And as in the Middle East, blaming violence on foreigners is not merely  a mistaken diagnosis.  It is a ruse used to exempt his own government from responsibility for recent events.

In the same speech, delivered last Friday, Cabral promised “an answer to society.”

The answer came in the form of the Special Commission on Actsof Vandalism during Public Demonstrations.  The so-called CEIV was created on July 19, by Decree No. 44.302, published in the Official Diary on Monday, July 22.

The text creating the commission … has some alarmingly authoritarian provisions.

In Article 3, Cabral decrees that all “solicitations and determinations of  the CEIV” take “absolute priority” over all other requests submitted to public and private agencies.

In a single paragraph, Cabral orders telephone and Internet providers to “attend to requests” from the CEIV “within 24 hours.”

It is not clear whether issues such as the security for the Pope or a problem in a hospital, for example, would be set aside in order to combat vandals, or whether net and phone companies have the right to appeal orders from the CEIV.

Even more worrisome is Article 2. In this part of the decree, the CEIV is permited to “take all necessary means to investigate acts of vandalism, collecting information, rounding up suspects, and taking any and all other actions necessary to bringing charges against criminal actors, for the purpose of punishing illegal acts during public demonstrations”.

This text, as Bernardo Santoro recall on his blog Instituto Liberal, opens the way for all sorts of abuses because it does not define “all necessary steps.” Can CEIV arrest people, install wiretaps or torture suspects, for example?

At best , Article 2 is a disaster attributable to the haste and the lack of understanding of whoever drafted it.  In the worst case, it creates a climate, incited by the state governor, in which “anything goes against the vandals.”

Reflections of this climate have already been observed.

On Friday, O Globo published an interview with sociologist Paulo Baía, who commented on the violence in Leblon. “The police saw the crime occurring and did not intervene.” Their reaction was basically: “And now I am going to beat the crap out of any and everyone,” Baia said.

Lightning Abduction, and a Threat

On that same Friday, the professor suffered a lightning abduction in Aterro do Flamengo.

The term implies a sudden blitz attack and false imprisonment.

“In the car, they delivered the message and did not say another word.

They said I should not give any more interviews like this one today on Globo  and that I should not talk any more about the PM, because if I did, it would the final interview of my life.

On Friday night, during protest that followed the passing of the pope, the arbitrary use of force was visibile once again.  Yasuyoshi Chiba, a photographer for AFP, was assaulted by police while taking pictures of the scene.  Two members of Mídia Ninja, who became famous in June for live coverage of their own actions, were detained. Using its Twitter account, the Rio  PM said “two demonstrators who were broadcasting live were arrested.” In a statement published on Facebook, one of them, Filipe Peçanha, said he was assaulted and detained merely for doing his job. The two were released not long after thanks to swift action by the OAB-RJ, which attended the event precisely in order to prevent police brutality.

Agains through its Twitter account, which is distinguished by its angry tone, the PM accused the OAB-RJ of “getting in the way” of its work.  The situation is tragicomic: a law enforcement agency views the work of lawyers as harmful, but not its own.  Two hours after criticizing the OAB, the PM-RJ, again using Twitter, stated that “freedom of expression and democracy are not on the side of “hacker crackers” or who post personal data of law enforcement agents.  As it happens, and contrary to what the PM said, even those who break the law have certain democratic rights.  This is precisely one of the factors that distinguish democracy from authoritarianism.

Images and testimony from Monday show that a very few demonstrators with stones and Molotov cocktails instigated the violence. It is difficult to verify this accusation, but it would not be the first time. Similar incidents used to occur frequently, not only in Rio but in other cities during the June protests. What the PM cannot seem to understand is that it is expected to act with restraint even when it is extremely difficult to identify criminals infiltrated into the mass. Guilt by association ought to be the last alternative adopted for an institution full of honest workers who encounter, on a daily basis, much worse crime than vandalism — such as the murder in the Favela da Maré and the execution of judge Patrícia Acioli.

As we know, authoritarianism and arbitrary justice are not exlusive to the PM-RJ. They are the praxis of an antiquated institution, responsible for atrocities all over Brazil and only able to exist through a sinister combination of cowardice on the part of elected officials and the support of persons not affected themselves to police violence. The new factor in Rio de Janeiro  is that with CEIV, Cabral has decided to institutionalize police authoritarianism as public policy.

Cocktails With Francisco

Luis Nassif has put together  a roundtable on the constitutionality of the measures adopted by Cabral.

The text touches on a sore point that angers police sources asked about it.

The Civil and Military police were asked whether they were investigating the possible participation of officers in inciting violence during the demonstration before the Palace. The Civil police stated that the new commission “will analyze the video.”

The PM was asked about an incident at the same event in which plainclothes cops allegedly acted as provocateurs — supposedly  leading to the injury of one policeman, struck with a molotov cocktail hurled by a colleague. This angered the PM spokesman most of all.

In a note, the PM informou said it has agents from the intelligence division observing the demonstrations, “with the objective of obtaining information and predicting movements, both of them important to command decision makers. It said that such agents work only as observers and that “imagine a police officer throwing a molotov cocktail at his colleagues, endangering their lives, exceeds the bounds of good sense and reveals a sordid plot to justify the criminal violence of these vandals.”

Terra has the story on the alleged infiltration:

Videos published yesterday on the social networks showing the Monday demonstrations  in Rio are being investigated by the state prosecutor. In the scenes, alleged member of P-2, the intelligence division of the state military police, appear infiltrating the demonstration during the reception for the Pope. O Globo reports that these were strong men with military haircuts who were able to come and go through the police barricades. Three are especially noteworthy: In the first video, shot and published by the PM, a man in a black T-shirt … launches one of the first molotov cocktails hurled  during the confrontatio between demonstrators and police.

In the second video, two alleged police officers bypass the barricade and, when challenged by soldiers, produce ID and are let through. One of these men is wearing a black T-shirt with an emblem similar to those worn by the attackers in the previous video.

In the third video, another man, similarly dressed, comes running in the company of police and points to a demonstrator, who is taken down. Later, the same person takes off the T-shirt and passes through the police barrier. The PM admits to the use of P-2 agents at protests and films demonstrations, collected evidence and make arrests.

In a note, the PM adds that “there is no doubt” that “the attack on the troopers came from another PM.”  The Polícia Militar says it is not possible to say whether the persons filmed following the troops are P-2 and that the video posted by the police was taken down due to a DoS attack.

The PM certainly makes use of a lot of psychological operations concepts in its use of social media