Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vigil Held on Carandiru Massacre Anniversary

About one hundred people participated in a vigil commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Brazil's worst instances of prison violence:

A “multi-faith ceremony” was held on Tuesday in Sao Paulo, Brazil in memory of the one hundred eleven inmates of the Carandiru prison that were killed during a riot.  The riot escalated from a fight between gangs and lasted several hours.  Police and security guards who quelled the riot have been accused of brutality including unleashing police dogs and allegedly murdering inmates at point-blank range.

The demonstration included survivors of the massacre as well as activists who decried the impunity of police officers suspected of using excessive force.

“We want this date…to become a date to combat the massacres and violence of the state,” declared Fr. Valdir John Silveira, national coordinator of the Prison Ministry.  “It s also an opportunity to discuss the system of mass incarceration in Brazil,” he added. 

Col. Ubiratan Guimaraes, who commanded the raid, was convicted in 2001 for his role in the incident yet he was killed months after his conviction was overturned in 2006.
Nearly one hundred officers involved in the massacre are expected to stand trial in January 2013 including some who have received promotions through the ranks over the past twenty years.

As we mentioned in 2010, the Carandiru prison was demolished in 2002 in order to make way for a complex that includes a library, a public park and two technical schools.  One of the students at the school, seventeen-year-old Thaire Cristina, observed how the history of Carandiru has been whitewashed:     
"No one ever spoke of what happened here. All the teachers are on stage on the first day of class, present the school rules, what can and what can not, but no one ever brought up the subject [of the massacre]. "
Perhaps the most infamous legacy of the Carandiru massacre is the growth of the infamous prison gang known by the initials PCC.  According to sociologist Camila Dias Nunes Caldeira, membership in the PCC has grown since 1994 and the gang is currently present in ninety percent of Sao Paolo prisons.

Video Source -  YouTube via user BrasilDiario

Online Sources – Terra Brasil, Diario de Sao Paulo, Montreal Gazette, BBC News, Correio de Brasil, The Latin Americanist

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