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“Small fishes and sharks” – Befreiungstheologe Frei Betto.

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Angelica Aparecida de Souza Teodoro, 18, mother of a two year old child only has a primary school education and works as a domestic but was unemployed when she was caught last November in a small supermarket in the Jardim dos Ipês in Sáo Paulo accused of stealing a 200 gr. tin of ”Aviaçáo butter which cost R$3.10 (US$ 2). She was taken to the 59th Police station which is known as the Pinheiros jail and was arrested by police officer Marco Arurélio Bolzini.

 
For stealing goods worth R$3.10, Angelica spent Christmas, New Year and Carnival in jail because the Sáo Paulo justice tribunal rejected the domestic™s defense after analysing it. Angelica was freed on March 23, more than four months later, thanks to a demand by Minister Paulo Gallotti of the STF (Supreme Justice Tribunal) in Brasilia.

Brazil and its Justice appear to be upside down. There is a total inversion of values and criteria. Someone who deals in advertising publicly declares having received, under the table, R$10 million (about US$ 6.3 million) through a foreign secret account and nothing happens because he is protected by the rights guaranteed to him by the STF. He reacts with derision to the enquiries of parliamentarians who are in charge of investigating corruption.

A man from Minas Gerais who also deals in advertising made loans in billions to the treasurer of a political party without declaring where the money came from, however he used it to bribe federal deputies and nothing happened.

A federal deputy who had his political rights annulled after having been the president of the Chamber of Deputies demands R$7.000 (about US$ 4.400) from a restaurant owner and he is not arrested.

A top Post Office employee is filmed putting a tip worth R$3.000 (about US$ 1.900) in his pocket, no one calls the police and he continues to be free, living proof that white collar crimes have the complicity of sectors of the Justice system.

When will politicians, bankers and businessmen prosecuted for misuse of public funds repay what they stole? Who prosecutes the exorbitant expenses of the rector of the University of Brasilia, misuse of BNDES (National Development Bank) resources, fraud in the privatizations during Fernando Henrique Cardoso™s government?

One has the impression that beneath so much corruption, there is an extensive network of co-conspiracy. Sharks are not punished so as to avoid them turning other sharks over to Justice. In this country all one needs is money, good lawyers and relationships with those in power in order to be assured impunity. In the meantime, the poor, under simple suspicion, suffer torture or are shot before they are questioned or investigated.

Small fish like Angelica languish in prison for months because of R$3.10. The sharks, immune and unpunished, are living proof that crime does pay “ as a fact and by law “ as long as the assault involves millions of reais, preferably from the public coffers.  

The proverb: ”He who steals 1 real is a thief, he who steals a million is a baron[1] <#_ftn1> .

Statistics show that the police of Governor Sergio Cabral in Rio de Janeiro killed more people this year than all the crimes committed in Sao Paulo by thugs. Who will cut off the murderous hand of the State?

In Brazil, when a policeman stops a rich person, the question is: ”Who do you think you are talking to? In other countries it is the policeman who asks the question ”Who do you think you are?

While I was in England during the 1980s the BBC “ which is a state-owned station “ showed Queen Elizabeth II™s nephew being judged in court. He had been stopped by the traffic police and it was found that he was driving under the influence of alcohol. His driving licence was confiscated for six months.

Two months later he was stopped again. They asked him for his driving licence. He didn™t have one. He then resorted to the Brazilian ”jeitinho[2] <#_ftn2> : ”Do you know who you are talking to? I am prince so-and-so. The policeman once again demanded to see his documents. The youth continued arguing with him. Then the policeman said: ”One of us is wrong. You are under arrest and the judge will decide which one of us is right.            

It was broadcast on all TV stations and the prince was obliged, by the judge, to apologise to the policeman and he had his driver™s licence confiscated for five years.

This is what citizenship is all about.

1] <#_ftnref1>  Shark in Portuguese is ”tubaráo rhyming with baron which is ”baráo.

[2] <#_ftnref2>  Jeitinho “ a smart way to get around something.

Frei Betto is a writer, author ”O desafio ético (The Ethical Challenge) (Garamond) together with Luis Fernando Veríssimo and others.

ABOUT THE AUTOR

He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian.
Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name.  In 1985 he won Brazil™s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers™ Union.

Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church™s ministry to workers in Sáo Paulo™s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers™ Movement (MST).

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Donnerstag, 24. Juli 2008 um 22:37 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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