Brazil

Brazil: yet another narco-fueled prison massacre

Posted on January 17th, 2017 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilYet another deadly prison riot is reported from Brazil. This time, rival gangs clashed for control of a pavilion at Alcaçuz State Penitentiary, in the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte. The riot began early Jan. 14; police surrounded the prison that night, but waited until noon the next day to enter due to reports that rebel inmates had armed themselves. At press time, the state’s military police and elite Special Operations Batallion are trying to negotiate the surrender of the inmates, according to Brazilian news blog Plus55. The state government has confirmed at least 10 deaths, but the number is expected to rise—Reuters already puts it as high as 30. Some of the victims are said to have been decapitated.

Brazil: 60 dead in narco-fueled prison massacre

Posted on January 3rd, 2017 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

BrazilA New Year's Day prison riot in Brazil's Amazon riverport city of Manaus left up to 60 dead before aithorities re-established control the following morning—with many of the bodies decapitated, mutilated and burned. The uprising at the Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Complex (COMPAJ) is the bloodiest of several such episodes in recent years, pointing to extreme overcrowding in Brazil's prison system and effective control of many facilities by drug gangs. Authorities in Amazonas state say the COMPAJ rebellion was sparked by a fight between rival gangs. Local media reported that several of the dead had their decapitated bodies thrown over the prison wall. Twelve  guards were taken hostage, and a still undetermined number of inmates escaped.

Pro-legalization mayor defeated in Rio de Janeiro

Posted on November 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilRio de Janeiro's pro-legalization mayoral candidate Marcelo Freixo was defeated in the Oct. 30 run-off by the conservative Marcelo Crivella—a bishop in the evangelical Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Crivella, who won by a safe 20%, is also nephew of the founder of what Reuters calls the "evangelical megachurch." He had to back down from his past criticisms of homosexuality in gay-friendly Rio—as well as of Catholicism, Brazil's dominant religion. With the country still reeling over the August impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers Party (PT), the race in Rio represents a further gain for Brazil's political right.

Rio de Janeiro to get pro-legalization mayor?

Posted on October 11th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

BrazilLeft-wing populist candidate Marcelo Freixo made it past the first round in the race for mayor of Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 2, and now goes on to face an ultra-conservative rival in a run-off at the end of the month. In recent days, drug legalization has emerged as a key issue in the race. Freixo, of the Socialism and Freedom Party (POSL), is currently chair of the Human Rights Defense Commission of Rio de Janiero state's Legislative Assembly. He is now running against evangelical senator Marcelo Crivella of the Brazilian Republican Party (PRB) for the mayoralty. But another right-wing contender bounced out in the first round, Flávio Bolsonaro of the Social Christian Party (PSC), has thrown his support to Crivella—and is attempting to use the drug stigma against Freixo, exploiting his call for legalization as a means to de-escalate Rio's violent gang wars.

Deadly underside of Rio Olympics

Posted on September 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilWith the Rio de Janeiro Olympics over, the world media are moving on—but the city's poor favela dwellers are left to contend with a wave of murderous police terror. This was launched a year ago as part of an effort to pacify and sanitize the sprawling megalopolis for the Games. Amnesty International reports that over 100 people have been killed by police in Rio de Janeiro state so far this year—the big majority young Black men. A total of 307 were killed by police in the state in 2015. At least eight people in Rio were actually killed by police during the Games—to little media coverage. The clean-up operation was, of course, disguised as a crackdown on drugs and crime. The inevitable rationale was provided by the narco economy in the favelas—informal urban settlements virtually abandoned by the government for anything other than militarized law enforcement.

Brazil: police implicated in Sao Paulo massacre

Posted on August 17th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

BrazilGunmen killed at least 18 people in outlying districts of Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, in a series of overnight attacks Aug. 14. Witnesses and video footage in several locations indicated that masked gunmen pulled up in a car before opening fire. In many cases they checked the victims' names before shooting, or asked if they had criminal records. At least six other people were injured in the attacks, in the districts of Osasco and Barueri. Authorities are said to be investigating whether the attacks were a coordinated campaign of revenge by off-duty officers following the deaths of two colleagues in the targeted districts the previous week.  Police in Brazil are responsible for more than 2,000 deaths per year, and rights groups say off-duty officers rarely face prosecution when they in engage in vigilante justice. (Reuters, BBC News, Aug. 15)

Amnesty: 'Trigger happy' police kill hundreds in Rio

Posted on August 6th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

BrazilAmnesty International in a report issued Aug. 3 charges that Brazil's military police have been responsible for more than 1,500 deaths in Rio de Janeiro in the last five years, accusinf them of a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy. Amnesty released the findings ahead of the one-year countdown to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The report, "You killed my son: Killings by military police in Rio de Janeiro," reveals that nearly 16% of the total homicides registered in the city in the last five years took place at the hands of on-duty police—1,519 in total. Just in the favela of Acari, in the city's north, Amnesty found evidence of "extrajudicial executions" in at least nine out of 10 killings committed by the military police in 2014. 

Latin America's cartels build their own arms industry

Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

narco-tankYet more grim evidence emerged this week that Mexico's warring cartels are becoming a real military force and underground parallel state in the country's lawless northeast. Small Wars Journal on Feb. 13 noted a press release from the Mexican attorney general's office, the PGR, announcing that federal police and army troops had raided a winery near Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, where 13 vehicles were being fitted with armor plating. Small Wars Journal calls it a "narco-tank factory." A huge amount of ammunition was also confiscated in the raid, although it seems the people who were running the workshop all escaped. The PGR said they believe the makeshift factory was being run by the Gulf Cartel.

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