Saturday, January 07, 2017

Where Did Civilizational Norms Evaporate To, In Brazil?

"This is a national crisis."
"What happened was an isolated action by members of the PCC – a criminal organization that exists in the prison system – against people who were not from any faction."
"There was no confrontation, this was a killing spree. It was barbaric. Some were beheaded,  others had their hearts or intestines ripped out."
Uziel Castro, security secretary, Roraima state, northern Brazil

"As they couldn’t get into other wings to do the massacre, they did those they could reach. They just executed for the sake of ease. The killing came in response to a general order from PCC bosses."
"Even when the cells are locked, they know how to open the locks. Locks are a toy for them."
Carlos Ramos, communications coordinator, Association of Firefighters and Military Police
Brazil's prison system currently holds more than 600,000 inmates, 61 per cent over capacity, according to Human Rights Watch. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Five days ago there was widespread international revulsion at the news of a horrendous prison riot at an overcrowded prison in Manaus, complete with massacre, when it appeared a 'message' was being sent from the Family of the North (FDN), a powerful local gang, to their drug-running rivals from the First Capital Command (PCC), representing one of Brazil's largest gangs involved in street drug distribution.

At the Manaus event lat Sunday 56 prisoners were slaughtered, some beheaded, others tortured before being killed and mutilated. These are gangs of vicious thugs vying for influence and territory. The gangs appear to 'own' the very prisons they are incarcerated within. They are as much exercising their primal version of territorial imperative within the prisons as they are the territory they claim to own for drug trafficking operations.

At the Manaus prison there were 1,500 prisoners and a pitiful 15 prison officers on duty at the time. The PCC, according to government sources, made $32-million in drug sales in 2012, even while almost half of its 13,000 members were in jail in Sao Paulo state. The Manaus-based Northern Family challenging of the most powerful gang in Brazil, Sao Paulo's First Capital Command, evidently led to the wholesale slaughter that resulted from the riot.

In the confusion that accompanied the riot, 144 prisoners are said to have escaped. Some of those prisoners took selfies and posted them in a display of absolute arrogance, challenging authorities to find them and return them to a prison system from which it appears to be child's play to escape, given the right circumstances that a riot presents. During which rival score-settling through violent atrocities takes place, mocking civilizational norms and any sense of lawful justice.

Now, five days after that barbaric spectacle, another prison riot has taken place in northern Brazil, where thirty-three inmates were slaughtered, some having their hearts and intestines eviscerated. Leading prison authorities in other major cities in Brazil to brace themselves for similar violence. A breakout of violence that some authorities envision might spread to the very streets of the nation in a total breakdown of law and order.

It is almost as though Brazil is in competition with Mexican drug traffickers whose barbarism has become legendary; only Brazilian drug thugs appear to be delving deeper into the dark cesspools of human depravity, taking their cue from the well-publicized terrorist tactics of Islamic State, itself inspired by the kind of 'capital justice' Islamist nations like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, following the Sharia law of the Koran, engage in.

Military police officers track fugitives from
Military police officers track fugitives from the Anisio Jobim penitentiary complex in Manaus, Brazil, after a riot in the prison left at least 56 people dead and several injured on January 2, 2017. AFP PHOTO | MARCIO SILVA
Just to ensure that no one, locally or internationally, misses the gruesome drama that has unfolded in Brazil, media in Roraima state featured images of mutilated corpses, some absent limbs and heads, and even a heart, lying on a bloodstained corridor floor of the Agricultural Penitentiary of Monte Cristo in Boa Vista, the state capital. Mutilations and decapitations are common, evidently, in Brazil’s medieval and overcrowded prison system, where drug gangs rule.

What a savage reputation the country is gaining for itself.

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