Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil prides itself on being a “civilized” country, since it does not have the death penalty, unlike “uncivilized” countries such as the U.S. and China and Saudi Arabia. The Curmudgeon knows this claim is an outright lie.
The Curmudgeon knows that the death penalty is widely applied throughout the country by “law enforcement agents”: police and military “death squads” who, during their off hours, routinely hunt down and murder persons they believe guilty of crimes.
The Curmudgeon knows there is widespread public support for these “death squads”: “the only good bandido is a dead bandido” has been scriptural chapter and verse for Brazilians for 500 years.
The death penalty is not applied by law, rather by outlaws. “Vengeance is mine” saith the Lord, but “Hey, Lord! We were first in line! Wait your turn!” say the vigilantes. First in line they remain, and unpunished they remain.
Brazilian criminal law is not applied to criminals who are “law enforcement agents”. They are protected by their confreres, and, far worse, by the vast majority of the citizenry, who see nothing wrong with the cold-blooded assassination of “bandidos”. What most Brazilians think is “live by the sword, die by the sword” or “they got what they deserved”.
In Rio de Janeiro, “no one knows” where the earthly remains of Amarildo Souza can be found, more than two full years after the bricklayer from Rocinha was killed by the police (on- or off-duty, who cares?). The authorities, of course, do know, but they remain silent. Why?
In São Paulo last week, 18 “bandidos” were hunted down and exterminated by the police (on- or off-duty, who cares?). The authorities remain silent. Why?
The death penalty is alive and well in Brazil; everybody pretends otherwise, but basically, nobody cares. After all, the only good bandido is a dead bandido.
The Curmudgeon loves Brazil and Rio de Janeiro and wishes that all the above were not true.