Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil abolished the death penalty when it became a Republic in 1889, and has long supported abolishing it everywhere. Its efforts were unsuccessful last Sunday (January 18th), when Indonesia executed, by firing squad, a former Carioca called Marco Archer. Brazil’s President made an impassioned plea for clemency, which was ignored by Indonesia’s President.
There are several ironies here.
Irony the first. Marco Archer freely admitted guilt because he never thought he’d be executed. Born and raised well-to-do in a tropical country where “tudo acaba em pizza” (“no one is punished”) he figured he could sell drugs to maintain his high-flying life style as a hang gliding instructor. The fact that the drugs might ruin the lives of Indonesians never crossed his mind.
Irony the second. The newly elected Indonesian President had campaigned on a pledge to enforce the letter of Indonesia’s law imposing the death penalty for drug trafficking. Unlike President Dilma, who has already gone back on most of her campaign rhetoric, he kept his word.
Irony the third. Dilma has recalled Brazil’s ambassador to Indonesia for consultations, and has said the execution will damage relations between the two countries. China executes more criminals every week than Indonesia does in a year, but Dilma doesn’t care about that — Indonesia is small potatoes and China is BRIC.
Irony the fourth. Dilma, in her rebellious youth, was an important player in a clandestine movement that advocated killing people in cold blood — as long as they were somehow connected to the ruling military dictatorship. Shedding crocodile tears for a callous, ne’er-do-well, jet-setting drug dealer just doesn’t ring true.
In short, Marco Archer knowingly bet his life on Indonesians having pizzaioli. He lost his bet and his life and the world is surely a better place without him.
The Curmudgeon plans to emit less vehement Smidgens opportunely. Stay tuned. Please.