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, aka Michael Royster.
The Curmudgeon, aka Michael Royster.

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.


  1. Sempre era assim..!! Esquadrão da Morte. Since 1889 it has been the “norm” and supported by “o povo”.

  2. According to Marcelo Freixo police in the city of Rio summarily executed over a thousand people both in 2011 and 2012 (1090 – I remember this figure). The sum total of all known death penalty killings for the entire world usually runs to 700.

    That means that for the years I have the statistics the city of Rio de janeiro alone was killing more extrajudicially, with no oversight and no due process, than are executed after judicial process by the rest of the planet combined.

    Note: it’s hard to get the statistics for China and that’s a big gap.

  3. I have lived on and off in for the last eight years there are programs on TV all day long reporting killings domestic and otherwise mainly Rio Janeiro and Sao Paulo laws are in place and police a visible at all times the law seems to be a guide book only I have personally witness a person stopped by the police with a document issue the vehicle colour had been changed then to find out that the person driving had no licence the individual was not arrested car was impounded the individual paid one week later the fine and got his car back using a friend who had a licence get the car back they changed seats in front of the police and the driver without the licence drove the car away children are driving cars and motobikes in the streets obviously with no licences being fined and let go. Children are hired as assassins under the age of 18 bosting of there killings because they don’t go the jail because there under age. No one is scared of the law they laugh at it. The program on TV beg the government to bring in execution it wouldn’t stop it, but I am sure if you are going to murder someone and you are aware you could be lawfully excited for that crime then I am sure they would think twice. The prisons are over run they would be half as full if the penalty was in place. Then they could concentrate on the petty crime more and keep the kids from becoming outlaws just the treat of n extreme punishment would be the start of the clean up they need.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here