After Murder of 20 Candidates, Armed Forces Deploy 25,000 Men for Brazil’s Elections

Brazilian Army on the streets to guarantee elections

Brazilian Army on the streets to guarantee elections The gunning down of a string of candidates ahead of nationwide municipal elections this Sunday is stoking fears that Brazil’s toxic politics are headed into dangerous new territory.

The main headline from Sunday’s polls is expected to be the hammering of the populist Workers’ Party, which many here blame for Brazil’s punishing recession and sprawling corruption scandals.

Already reeling from the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff and her replacement by center-right rival Michel Temer, the once-dominant Workers’ Party looks set to lose a slew of local seats, including the mayor of Brazil’s biggest city, São Paulo.

But analysts say that a recent spate of killings around Brazil points to a darker political shift. The latest victim was José Gomes da Rocha, running for mayor in Itumbiara in the state of Goiás, in Brazil’s Midwest.

He was shot dead, along with a police officer, while campaigning on Wednesday. The state’s deputy governor was also wounded in the attack in which the gunman was killed by security guards.

Brazilian Army on the streets to guarantee elections

Supreme Court Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes called the incident “shocking.”

Worries about violence have prompted deployment during the election of extra army and elite police forces to 307 municipalities across 12 states, according to the official Agência Brasil news service.

The main hotspot is Rio de Janeiro, where 15 candidates or politicians have been murdered over the last 10 months, police say. Just last Monday, Rio city council candidate Marcos Vieira de Souza, nicknamed Falcon, was shot while campaigning for the rightwing Progressive Party in Madureira, northern Rio.

His execution-style slaying remains unsolved but Brazilian analysts and media quickly linked it to shadowy armed groups known as militias. De Souza, who headed one of Rio’s biggest and richest carnival samba schools, was also a police officer and had been cleared of militia-related charges back in 2011.

Another candidate for municipal government – José Ricardo Guimarães, who headed a private security firm – was shot dead the previous day at a rally in Itaboraí, also in metropolitan Rio.

We’re seeing a series of murders in northern Rio suburbs that are a new phenomenon and everything points to a link with political conflicts,” Michel Misse, an expert in security at Rio Federal University, said.

While Brazil’s bloody drugs gangs are well-known, the militias are more rarely discussed by officials or the media. Comprised of former or rogue police officers, the militias operate like death squads against criminals and run protection rackets

While their main activity has been battling gangs, the militias have also long tried to extend their influence into the political sphere. Those efforts now appear to be evolving into a new strategy.

O Globo newspaper reported on Wednesday that Rio militias were seizing Sunday’s elections as a way to expand business while influencing the vote.

Gangs have informed candidates that they must pay an “election tax” in order to campaign, with fees running from 15,000 to 120,000 reais (US$ 4,600 to US$ 37,000).

According to Globo’s investigation, militias even pressure candidates about the distribution of future posts should they win an election.

Dubious Donations

A study by the Supreme Electoral Board (TSE) revealed that 19.9 percent of the donations received by the candidates to mayors and councilors, which equals 300 million reais (over US$ 90 million) are being questioned for several reasons.

Questions rise due to the fact that among donors there are near 47,000 people unemployed, 22,800 citizens whose incomes are not in accordance with the contribution made and even 143 deceased.

The TSE also called the attention about 20 candidates who were shot dead in 12 states, including Bahia, Ceará, Goiás, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and São Paulo.

In view of this situation, the Defense Minister announced that the elections next Sunday will deploy 25,000 Army, Navy and Air Force troops to strengthen security in 408 municipalities in 14 states, which are considered the most critical areas.

Next October 2, more than 144 million people will be able to vote in 5,568 municipalities, where mayors will be elected among 16,565 candidates.

MP/Bzz

Tags:

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

Ads

You May Also Like

Brazilian president, Michel Temer - Marcos Corrêa/PR

Brazil President Gets First Win in Congress in Fight to Contain Public Spending

A congressional committee in Brazil approved on Thursday a constitutional amendment that would limit ...

David Miranda, a friend of Snowden, has become a councilman in Rio

Snowden’s Brazilian Friend in Rio Wins a Seat as a Councilman

Brazilian activist David Miranda, a personal friend of the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, was ...

35,000 Troops Guard Brazil’s Frontiers. Most Are in the Amazon

Drug seizures are not infrequent in Brazil’s Amazon region. In early January alone, the ...

Brazil court to deal with Temer's involvement in Petrobras's scandal

Brazil President Being Investigated for Involvement in the Petrobras Corruption Case

Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court gave a green light to preliminary investigation into President Michel ...

Antonio Palocci arrested by Brazil's Federal Police

The Noose Is Tightening for Brazil’s Workers Party

A medical doctor by training, Antonio Palocci was Brazilian former president Luiz Inácio Lula ...

Michel Temer and Dilma Rousseff in Brasília - Fabio Rodrigues/ABr

Brazil: There Was No Coup, But It Was Wrong and Damaging to the Country

The reply of my two distinguished Council on Hemispheric Affairs colleagues, Aline Piva and ...

A Guarani Indian from Rio de Janeiro - Tânia Rêgo/ABr

900 Indians Have Been Killed in Brazil Since 2003

According to a report issued by Brazil’s Missionary Indigenous Council in Brasília, almost 900 ...

By Planting Eucalyptus, Espírito Santo State in Brazil Is Creating an Immense Green Desert

The spread of desertification and increasing scarcity of water amid eucalyptus monocultures in the ...