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Rio | Batgirl and the Barbante Massacre

Militia kill 7 to elect Rio city council member

povodorio1

Source: Estadão.

I have followed the case of Batman and the Justice League pretty closely at various moments in this blog.

This most recent clipping is part of an extensive special section in this weekend’s Estado de S. Paulo on deadly political violence over the past 30 years. See

On the evening of August 19, 2008, 17 men in ski masks entered the community of Barbante, in Campo Grade, Western Zone, Rio de Janeiro, firing as they went and randomly shooting whoever crossed their path.

What looked at first to be yet another act of terrorism orchestrated by drug traffickers, however, as state judicial police (PC) discovered, was actually a massacre with a political motivation — the massacre was committed by a group of police, firemen and ex-armed forces organized into a militia. The group simulated an attack by drug  dealers to cause fear and reconquer political support in the community for city council candidateCarmen Glória Guinâncio Guimarães, aka Carminha Jerominho, of the PT do B. Another five witnesses to the massacre were later murdered  by the same gang. 

The militia sustained itself in the area with private security, black-market public transport, propane, “nickel-hunter” gambling machines and “gatonet” — illegal cable TV hookups.

One of the masked men, according to the PC, was ex-military policeman Luciano Guimarães, brother of Carminha Jerominho, son of city council member Jerominho Guimarães (PMDB) and nephew of form state deputy Natalino Guimarães (DEM), all of them leaders of militias.

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Electioneering using the Batman symbol, also used to indicate the homes of those current on their protection-racket payments.

“The Justice League.” 30 days before the elections, the four members of the group that called itself the Justie League were arrested. The group used a bat as its symbol in a reference to Batman, the comic book hero.

Carminha Jerominho was accused of political coercion. While sitting in a maximum security cell in Catanduvas, Paraná, she was elected with 21,000 votes. Her father, uncle and brother remained in jail, accused of criminal conspiracy and homicide.

Carminha was released two weeks after her successful bid for the city council. Her defense argues that the end of the election process extinguishes any potential duress suffered by voters. She served six months of her term before being impeached.

The regional electoral tribunal (TRE) accused Carminha of raising funds for the campaign outside the  schedule set for fundraising. In 2011, she petitioned successfully won an injunction that returned her to office. The 6,000 votes received during the election the previous year, however, were not enough to guarantee her reelection.

The victims of the massacre had no connection with the drug trade in Barbante. They were simply unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time Caixa Econômica Federal employee Dario Leoneza, 60, was one of those murdered in the attack. . A resident of the Paciência neighborhood, Dario had gone to Barbante Hill to visit friends. A year before, he had lost his wife, Lúcia, to cancer.

Dario raised five sons, including some born out of wedlock. He counted the days until his retirement. He was an extroverted man, a Flamengo fan and an enthusiastic participant in pagodes.  […]

Also shot to death by the militia were bakery worker Ariovaldo da Silva Nunes, 37, driver  Bruno Sérgio Manhães Ayres Batista, 27, small business owner Francisco Rezende de Oliveira, 40, the student Maicon de Azevedo Portela, 23, and two persons whom the police were unable to identify.

Witnesses. As the investigation progressed, witnesses in the case began to be hunted down. In July 2009, Leonardo Baring Rodrigues was executed in the Vila do Céu, in Cosmos. His brother, Leandro, was escorted by security and wore a bulletproof vest to the funeral. Even so, in the following year, Leandro was also killed — the two brothers were the first to identity the incident as involving militia.

Next, the father of Leonardo and Leandro, the ex-army private who had served in WWII, Vicente Rodrigues, 89, was taken to an abandoned shipyard and executed by the gang. Also shot to death were the mother and the brother-in-law of Vicente, Maria José and Carlos Alberto Cardoso.

Interests. Carminha, 35, says the charges against her family are “clearly political in nature.” She defends herself with a question: “How does anyone gain political support in a community doing something like this?”

She says that former federal agent Júlio Brasil, since decease, who ran for the city council in 2008, was interested in “helping” the PC. Brasil was not elected. “I have lived for 35 years in Campo Grande, I was born here, my family is here. Would my uncle throw a bomb into the precinct in his own neighborhood?” he asks referring to the allegation that Natalino Guimarães may have been behind an attack on the 35th Precinct, which was investigating militia activity.

Last year, Carminha accused another militia group from Campo Grande of trying to undermine her reelection. She received death threats. A dentist and mother of two, she says she does not use security guards.  “I cannot simply stop living my life.”

The Parallel Power. Police delegate Marcus Neves, 49, with 25 years service in the PC, played an active role in combating a parallel power mounted by militias in the Western Zone. As chief of the  35th Precinct, he has taken part in the arrest of 143 persons with militia ties, among them five politictions -– Jerominho, Natalino e Carminha, the former fireman and ex-council member Cristiano Girão former council member Luiz Fernando da Silva, aka Deco.

One of the most delicate moments in his career was the arrest of Natalino Guimarães, as he exercised his position as state deputy, in 2006. He rejects the version according to which police acted out of political motives. “I am a civil servant, I work for the State, not the government. I do not get to pick and choose my targets. I do my duty.”

Neves remembers how the militia began to infiltrate politics in the beginning of the last decade.  “Before, their interests were strictly economic. But when they began to receive visits from candidates, they perceived that having their own members in the city legislature would be good for business,” he says. “The machinery worked liked this: They collected funds to finance campaigns and to finance candidates in the name of the militia,” he relates.

The officer says the militia is worse than the drug trade. “It is because they have tentacles of political support inside the machinery of the State and in the structure of law enforcement. The traffic, with rare exceptions, does not have these contacts.”

Neves says the power of the League of Justice began to decline with the imprisonment of its political leaders. “The main heads of the militia were arrested. The political tentacle no longer exists.”

A man named Chico Bala — above, a sinister warning sign — took over the turf but was arrested in 2010.

Accused of leading the principal militia group in Campo Grande, ex-military policeman (PM) Francisco César Silva Oliveira, aka Chico Bala, was arrested this Thursday by police from the 35th Precinct in a house in Guarapari, Espírito Santo. He had been a fugitive from justice since June of last year. The captain of the 35th Precinct, Fábio Oliveira Barucke, entered the residencce with 15 police officers just as Chico was celebrating the birthday of his 11-year-old son with a BBQ for 12. The militiaman locked himself in a bedroom at one point, but finally gave himself up. He was not armed.

Barucke says investigations into the former PM and his gang began last October. Chico Bala’s was the principal rivel to the militia of ex-PM Ricardo Teixeira Cruz, aka Batman, the right arm of former city council member Jerônimo Guimarães Filho [and the others, all of them currently incarcerated]. The Chico Bala militia is suspected of homicides, burning vans, and collecting taxes from mototaxi driver, spreading terror throughout the Western Zone.

The police captain said Chico Bala was wanted on a homicide charge. He is also accused by PC from the 35th of criminal conspiracy.