The exodus of the population of the Vigario Geral district in Rio de Janeiro, harassed by the shootings between drug traffickers and the police, has deprived 3071 children from attending school, closed local businesses and stopped the people who live there from the elementary right to come and go.
Fragile Brazilian democracy is threatened in the larger cities. On the margin of the legal State an illegal State is expanding and becoming stronger. Barbarity is present where the government is absent. At most the State marks its sporadic presence with repressive but never administrative strength.The drug trade reigns in favelas (shanty towns) co-opting children and young people, charging protection from local businesses, administrating dances and sports clubs, severely punishing anyone who breaks the ”law of the jungle and even giving social assistance to neighbours such as finding hospital beds for the sick, purchasing medicine, providing scholarships, fixing household items and enlarging people™s shacks.On the cities™ periphery, militias, usually dominated by policemen, dictate norms and procedures: they collect money from inhabitants and businessmen, control the supply of gas, monopolise public transport (vans and mini buses) and impose their own candidates on those who vote in elections.
The more remiss the government is in areas densely populated by low income families, the greater is the empire of barbaritycracy “ the regime of barbarity imposed through terror.
In their immense majority, inhabitants of favelas and suburbs are honest hard working people as I was able to prove during the five years I lived in the Santa Maria favela in VitÃ³ria. However, they are unprotected as citizens. They do not have places for leisure, sport or culture, schools are scrapped, teachers are badly paid (and there are still governments who react to a national standard wage) education is of low quality, public health is atrocious, sanitation is precarious, the number of low income housing built through public financing is minimal.
All we need to do is trace the works that the government puts into effect such as the expansion of the Rio de Janeiro subway to see that the priority is geared to the minority, the middle or high income population. They are the group who are capable of providing election dividends. It is this reduced but powerful segment of the population “ the opinion makers “ who deserve the best public services. The rest, considered as non existent and left to their own fate are pushed into the arms of scoundrels.
Between the municipalities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo there are at least two million young people between the ages of 14 and 24. Â 80% of homicides as well as 80% of the victims come from this group. This proves that urban violence is not due to poverty but to the lack of good quality education. Â
If the State were to stand firm in these explosive areas through the schools, training programmes and sports and artistic activities, the drug trade would certainly lose its strength in a short time. The drug trafficker himself does not want his son to follow in his footsteps.
When will the government bring about an ample reform regarding the selection and training of civil and military police? How to explain that many government agents commit murder, are involved in the drug trade and in the torturing and stealing of goods found in the hands of delinquents? Â
Unfortunately culture in Brazil is a luxury for the elite. We only need look at the Ministry of Culture™s budget. The few initiatives depend on the benevolence of businesses which rarely invest in the world of the poor.
This is the most perverse form of privatisation: that which gives drug traffickers and illicit militias the right to act as a State within the State. As everyone knows that they do not limit their actions to low income areas, the middle and upper classes become permanent hostages of the barbarity either due to the fear of the risk of violence or to the compulsory confinement behind the bars of their homes and the need to transform their cars into armoured vehicles.
Just try to imagine the R$60 billion spent every year on private security in Brazil being invested in the education of poor children and youth and in the training of irreproachable policemen!
 <#_ftnref1> Â Cracy “ combining form denoting a particular form of government, rule or influence: autocracy, democracy. (Oxford Dictionary of English)
*Frei Betto is a writer author of ”CalendÃ¡rio do Poder (Calendar of Power) (Rocco).
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. Â 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).
Die Aufdringlichkeit der Sinne
Vom machtgeschützten Verlust der gesellschaftlichen Sehkraft - Oskar Negt(2000)
“Der Verlust jener in sinnlicher Erfahrung begründeten Urteilsfähigkeit der Menschen hat in unserem Jahrhundert für viele Menschen tödliche Folgen gehabt. Das Wegsehen, die machtgeschützte Sinnenblindheit, wenn Menschen verfolgt und getrieben, vergewaltigt und öffentlich gequält werden - das gehört nicht der Vergangenheit an.”
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