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The disappearance of Amarildo has all the necessary elements to remain unsolved,, because prior to his disappearance he was already invisible.

Where is Amarildo?

The Financial Times — paywall — has apparently joined the chorus of rights observers pressing police for action and results in the case of a slum dweller and family man who disappeared while in police custody, or shortly thereafter.

So has the English-language Rio on Watch … which delivers a detailed account of the episode …

Although the mass media have made something of a cause célèbre of the man and his plight — which is good news — the coverage, which relies heavily on the official version of events, remains murky.. Consider the absurdities offered as theories of the case in the following

Source:  Jornal O Globo.

RIO – As investigations into the disappearance of construction worker Amarildo Dias de Souza, last seen in the Police Pacification Unit (UPP) in Rocinha, more information emerges.

The most recent tip is that on July 28, 14 days after the victim’s disappearance, military police officer Juliano da Silva Guimarães, who is assigned to the UPP, said that his uncle, a driver for  Comlurb — the municipal street-cleaning authority — was forced by drug traffickers to take the body to the garbage dump in  Caju.

According to the policeman, the city employee was approached by armed bandits who emerged from the forest on Dioneia Street, in Rocinha, and told him to go straight to his destination, without stopping anywhere else. It was the first time that the driver worked in Rocinha. He had worked another area  before that.

The state judicial police conducted a search of Caju, but was informed that the garbage spends only a few days in that location, before being hauled off to the Seropédica landfill .

Rivaldo Barbosa, head of the homicide squad (DH), which took over the case on Thursday, has ordred a search and crime scene analysis of the area.

If anyone ever commits homicide on my ass, please send the case directly to the Homicide Squad rather than more than 2 weeks later.

This story — that criminals forced the police officer’s uncle to drop a corpse off at a garbage dump, tends to confirm the information of Major Edson, who says he saw Amarildo for the last time descending some stairs that led down to Dioneia Street, as he departed the UPP.

As it happens, however, the cameras located on that stairway and in front of the UPP, the only path the man could take to leave the unit, were not functioning on the night in question. The company that maintains the equipment said the equipment exhibited burn marks.

Another significant piece of information is the fact that the GPS equipment on three cars stationed at the UPP,  inclusing the one that transported Amarildo from his home to the UPP, were turned off at the time of the incident. This equipment are used to record the locations and course of the police vehicles. The secretary of public safety said that technicians are working to detect the cause of this failure.

Faced with these uncertainties,  DH officers yesterday re-interview the family of Amarildo — detectives from the 15th DP (Gávea) had already taken statements from the family.  On Friday, the deposition was taken of the missing man’s wife, Elisabete Gomes da Silva. A crime scene investigation of the local UPP was also conducted.

Jornal do Brasil covers official reaction to the case and deals, tangentially at least, with the enduring problem of police ultraviolence and impunity.

State secretary of public safety José Mariano Beltrame said that if police took part in the disappearance of the construction worker, they would be expelled from the force and handed over to the courts.

“[If the investigation points to the involvement of military police], those police will find themselves on the street, jobles.The street is the only appropriate measure, along with legal actions that will bring them up on criminal charges,” said Beltrame, during a press conference detailing corruption in the Favela da Mangueirinha, in Duque de Caxias, in the Baixada Fluminense area, held early this morning.

Beltrame was commenting on the state by state human rights secretary Maria do Rosário, who said there was a trend towards PM participation in disappearance like Amarildo. “I respect the minister’s position, but the constitutional mechanism is for police to investigate these facts.  There is no grounds for prejudging the case. Any action in the case outside the official investigation is bad for all of us.”

As to the very convenient blackout of surveillance and GPS. Beltrame says,

“The issue with the GPS and cameras are being dealt with as part of the investigation, and explanations will be required. What I  can tell the public is that the state will not leave any line of investigation uncovered. We owe the public a response, because in doing so we gain the public’s trust in our work. An incident like this cannot be allowed to dishonor the six years of work that have been improving the indices of criminality and the lives of state residents.”

Beltrame apparently refers here to the UPP program, designed to install a permanent local police presence where the drug trade and militias used to dominate.

Cláudia Leitano in today’s Zero Hora calls Amarildo “the Vladimir Herzog” of the a generation of “disappeareds.”

The question of Amarildo’s whereabouts reminds us of the sober memor of political victims of dissapearance. Like Argentina and Chile, Brazil also experienced over the years the macabre routine of unexplained, unexplainable disappearances.

Amarildo, however, has little in common with the victims of disappearance under the dictatorship — most of them of middle class origin and motivated by some sort of ideology.

The only ideology represented by Amarildo is the ideology of survival. The bricklayer, who dissapeared on July 14 after being confused with a drug dealer and taken by four recruits to the UPP in Rocinha, lived off odd jobs, never learned to read, and earned the nickname “Bull” for his ability to carry two sacks of cement at once.

Though he lived in an area dominated by the traffic, Amarildo was not a criminal. He had no work records or fixed income. Like the residents of Brejo da Cruz in the song by Chico Buarque, he and his family fed themselves on light. Their life was as distant  from the  prepaid cell phones and payment plans of the Casas Bahia as we do from a yacht anchored at Angra.

Among the protests of 2013, credit is due for having taken the tragic banality of the incident and given it a name and face. It is a name like any other. In its roots it sounds like the verb amar, to love, but actually stems from the Latin amarus (bitterness), with a suffix identifying him as a member of the underclass.  There are Amarildos everwhere around here. Affable people, their children do not attend school and suffer diseases that go untreated, and when for some reason they cause trouble, real or imaginary, it is easy to convince them that the law that applies to others does not exactly apply to them.

The disappearance of Amarildo has all the necessary elements to remain unsolved because prior to his disappearance he was already invisible. That the theory of his disappearance has somehow become an  item of public interest and commotion seemed  as improbable as his chances at winning the lottery. The political tensions of recent weeks, however, changed his luck; Amarildo disappeared from his home and returned as a slogan. He became a cause, a protest banner, and a thorn in the side of the state government.  ….

Surveillance Cams: Working or Not Working?

O Dia — August 2 — was alone among the dailies to filter the ridiculous in the military police treatment of the case.

Rio – Images captured by two cameras in Rocinha call into question the version of military police regarding the route allegedly taken  by bricklayere Amarildo Dias de Souza, 47, when he left the UPP on July 14.

The equipment, which is in working condition, did not register Amarildo leaving by the main door of the UPP or descending the Dioneia stairs, another access route to the UPP. This Thursday, 150 persons closed the Lagoa-Barra highway in a demonstration calling for the location of the bricklayer. The protest concluded at the doorstep of Governor Cabral in Leblon.

A report by the state judicial police to which O DIA had access, shows that 10 PMs, among them the commander of the Rocinha UPP, Major Edson, have already given statements. They allege that  Amarildo was detained because he looked like a criminal known as Guinho. The investigations do not rule out some involvement by the victim with the drug traffic.  This Thursday, Homicide Division (DH) detectives traced the path Amarildo reportedly followed before he disappeared.

GPS Out of Service

“All the paths will be traced again and the crime scene reconstructed until we come up with a more coherent theory of the crime,” said SSP José Mariano Beltrame, who visited the DH to check on how the case was proceeding.  However, police already know that the GPS systems on the patrol cars of the UPP were not functoining, which makes it difficult to trace the cars.

On Thursday afternoon, the family of Amarildo spoke again with prosecutors. They met with chief prosecutor, Marfan Vieira, the chief of the DH, Rivaldo Barbosa, and prosecutor Homero das Neves.

Two of Amarildo’s children gave statements to the DH. “It was a serious violation of human  rights and we are not going to tolerate it,” said the prosecutor.

State assemblyman Geraldo Pudim (PR) was also present. He will ask the state court to pay a pension and a housing subsidy for the family of Amarildo