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In 2003, a year after the Special Mission of Combating Organized Crime had already been in a effect, the number of homicides rose to 1,782, or, in other words, 54.8 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, and the number of violent deaths was 2,228, which means 106.7 for every 100,000 inhabitants. Vitória is the Brazilian state capital with largest number of deaths in between the ages of 15 and 24: 197.1 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants.  It is worthwhile to recall that UNESCO considers a situation as civil war when the index is above 50 deaths for every group of 100,000 inhabitants.



 * Tânia Maria Silveira

 For almost three decades, human rights defenders have been fighting against organized crime in the state of Espírito Santo. Protecting human life has been the goal of this work.  Because of this, many died, others had to move, or go into hiding, or be protected by special programs, or live under police escort.  Innumerable national and international organizations have participated in activities to prevent criminal actions.  Besides these efforts, the statistics on violence continue to be high and growing.  In 2003, a year after the Special Mission of Combating Organized Crime had already been in a effect, the number of homicides rose to 1,782, or, in other words, 54.8 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, and the number of violent deaths was 2,228, which means 106.7 for every 100,000 inhabitants. Vitória is the Brazilian state capital with largest number of deaths in between the ages of 15 and 24: 197.1 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants.  It is worthwhile to recall that UNESCO considers a situation as civil war when the index is above 50 deaths for every group of 100,000 inhabitants.

A Brief Retrospection on the Actions against Organized Crime

 In 1976, attorney Ewerton Montenegro Guimarães (deceased) wrote the book: The Seal of Crime, in which he explicated on the ways and persons of the Death Squadron. The police formed this organization to exterminate “bandits”, or those who we could also refer to as the detained, ex-convicts, and the poor.

 In the 80s, Espírito Santo was the stage for a battle between the people in rural areas and the União Democrática Ruralista – UDR (Democratic Rural Union), which resulted in various deaths and, to this day, these crimes have gone unpunished.  An illustrative case would be that of union leader Valdício Barbosa dos Santos, “o Léo”, who died in September of ‘89.  He had been killed by a former policeman, Romualdo, known as the “japonês” (Japanese), who later was condemned to 16 and a half years in prison in a judgement that occurred in December of 2003, but, who otherwise, remains free.

In between 1991 and 1993, the state of Espírito Santo received much national and international attention due to the extermination of children and adolescents.  This fact lead to the governmental decree on September 5, 1991 that created the Comissão de Processos Administrativos Especiais – CPAE (Commission of Special Administrative Procedures).  This commission concluded that the executors were civil and military police that were associated with an organization named the Scuderie Detetive Le Cocq – SDLC. On November 20, 1995, after much persecution, Francisco Vicente Badenes Júnior, the representative of the police responsible for the investigation, presented to the Federal Public Ministry the report “Representation with the Goal of Breaking Up the Entity Known as the Scuderie Detetive Le Cocq in the state of Espírito Santo”.  This judicial action has moved along up to today without any decision, and Badenes Júnior is under the protection of the federal government’s victim and witness program: PROVITA.

 In 1993, Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos - MNDH (the National Movement of Human Rights) launched a campaign against impunity in Espírito Santo. The denunciations of this campaign motivated the CDDPH/MJ - Conselho de Defesa da Pessoa Humana (Defense Council of the Human Person) to construct a special commission that reported on the veracity of these facts and presented various recommendations to the state authorities. When these recommendations were not followed, they were then used as justification in a plea for federal intervention in this state.

 On November 30, 1995, the daily newspaper Diário Oficial da União published an intergovernmental resolution that created the Public Security Council of the Southeast Region. In a partnership the Ministry of Justice, the council’s goal was to coordinate actions that would fight drug trafficing, and the contraband of arms, cargo, and cars.  This council has not taken any distinguishing actions. Moreover, during this same period, organized crime acted explicitly in Espírito Santo, without the council reprimanding those actions.

 In 1999 and 2000, Vitória became the most violent state capital in the country.  This brought about action from the federal commission of investigation: CPI do Narcotráfico.  Their final report revealed the Mafia in Espírito Santo and its ties with the local authorities.  This fact made the state an exemplary case of organized crime within public institutions, compromising the credibility of the democratic state of law.  In this context, the noncompliance of the local authorities towards the recommendations made by the commission mentioned above was now understandable.

 In 2002, the Brazilian Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil) presented a plea for federal intervention in Espírito Santo. This plea had the support from the Permanent Forum against Organized Crime and Violence of Espírito Santo, which is formed by various organizations of civil society in this state. CDDPH/MJ approved and directed this plea.  It was then filed away by the Attorney General of the Republic at that time. This created a political crisis that ended in the renunciation of the then Minister of Justice.  In July 2002, in order to get around the crisis, the new Minister of Justice created the Special Mission to Combat Organized Crime. The work of the mission resulted in the arrest of authorities and powerful people, such as the Colonel of the Military Police Walter Gomes Ferreira, the former President of the Legislative Assembly José Carlos Gratz, and businessman Carlos Guilherme Lima, amongst others. Deputy Gratz’s mandate was cancelled.  Former Governor José Ignácio Ferreira, his wife, and his collaborators were also placed under suspicion. The Special Mission succeeded in mapping the activity of organized crime in Espírito Santo, and its network of political, judicial, and military connections.  During all this activity of the federal forces, various witnesses of emblematic crimes were murdered, as was the young judge Alexandre Martins de Castro Filho, who was a courageous collaborator of the mission.  After a year of intense activity and impressive operations that involved about 200 federal agents, the Special Mission was dissolved. Its final activity was to denounce the President of Court Accounts and some of his counselors.  The mission requested that these people be distanced from their responsibilities, but this request was rejected by the magistrate.  Today, all of the accused during the work of the mission, except for Colonel Ferreira, remain at liberty for their crimes.

 In August 8, 2003, the Office of Integrated Administration for Public Security was created in order to plan the actions of the state and federal forces.  This measure was also aimed at securing the continuation of combating organized crime through special means.  Based in this goal, Espírito Santo was the first state to adhere to the Sistema Único de Segurança Pública – SUSP (Single Public Security System).

Combating Criminality and Violations of Human Rights

 Unfortunately, after all the measures mentioned above, it has not been possible to contain the growth of violence and criminality in Espírito Santo.  The exemplary cases involving “crimes of power” remain unsolvable.  For example, in the beginning of October, one more witness of the murder of attorney Marcelo Denadai was executed.  This attorney died on March 15, 2002 and his death became one of the facts that justified the creation of the Special Mission.  Contrary to the obligations taken on by different responsible parties in that mission, this crime was never cleared up and all of the witnesses are being eliminated: in March of 2003, Eduardo Victor Ferreira was the first to go.  In December of 2003, a former policeman, one of the gunmen who killed Denadai, but who was now collaborating with the mission, was murdered.  In June of 2003, Gilson Pontes Alves became the next victim.  In June of 2004, Leonardo Maciel Amorim was assassinated, and, now, the 5th witness, former military police Bandeira was eliminated on October 8, 2004[1].

 If, on one hand, the efforts to protect life had not yet produced effective results, on the other hand, the putting down of crime resulted in a significant growth in the number of detained without the state having available space in the prison system.  In 2002, there were 3,774[2] detainees. Now, according to the Pastoral Carcerária (Prison Pastoral), the number has surpassed 5,500.  There is a deficit of 1,400 spaces, according to the current secretary of the State of Justice, Fernando Zardini Antônio. The overloading of the police stations and the poor conditions of the jails prompted the prosecutor, Gustavo Senna Miranda, to ask for a judicial action condemning the situation. He affirmed that in the Departamento de Policia Judiciária-DPJ (Department of Judiciary Police) of that municipality there were 50 detainees in a space that would fit at most 16 people.  In this action, he even went as far to denounce:  

“(...) we went to the DPJ of Campo Grande, where, in a space that was completely inhuman. There were 60 men thrown into a small patio where all of them shared a hole in the cement as a toilet, a small hose as a shower, and they were all together without divisions”.

The ceiling – a large piece of metal – kept them in constant contact with the elements: rain, sun, cold, wind, in an environment prone to the transmission of various types of illness.

Such circumstances lead to a disorderly climate contributing to rebellions, deaths, and so many other moments serious tensions with which we are familiar”.[3]


 Judge Erivaldo Franklin de Medeiros, warden for the  municipality, gave the state 60 days to reform DPJ or face a penalty of 5,000 reais for every day until the reform would be completed.  He determined that the DPJ could no longer hold prisoners beyond its capacity.

 Frequently, the Conselho Estadual de Direitos Humanos (State Counsel of Human Rights) receives denouncements of the serious conditions with which the prisoners have to live.  Prisoners make pleas for safety and survival, such as that the ridiculous food at least be served to all or that permission be given so that families can bring food to the starving. They asked that prisoners have a place where they can perform their physical necessities; that they receive medical treatment for tuberculosis, AIDS, and bullet wounds; and that those held without a sentence have access to justice. For all of these reasons, it is not an exaggeration to say that the incarcerated are submitted to the conditions that were imposed in concentration camps.

 Prison rebellions became frequent occurrences.   In the beginning of October, there were riots in various units: in the Custody House of Viana, in the State Mental Asylum, and in the Women’s’ Penitentiary in Tucum, Cariacica, amongst others.  Detainees broke out of the Custody House and prisoners were taken from that location and transferred to other penitentiaries in order to reform the former.  One of those other locations was the Presídio de Segurança Máxima – PSMA (Maximum Security Pententiary) which received 200 men. The Secretaria de Estado da Justiça – SEJUS (State Secretary of Justice) took some security measures, such as cutting family visits. The detainees at PSMA threatened to have a “mega-rebellion” and the SEJUS sent in the shock troops. The families of the detained became worried and sought out human rights entities.  On October 13, during the 2nd Social Forum of Espírito Santo, the families of the detained met with the judge responsible for the serving of penalties and with the Secretary of Justice. They asked that the representatives of the human rights entities be allowed to visit that penitentiary to verify the situation of the detainees.  There was an agreement and the representatives went the next day.

 The State Secretary of Justice, the Undersectary of Penal Cases, other civil servants of office, judge responsible for the serving of penalties, the Prosecutor of the Municipality of Viana, representatives of the Prison Pastoral of the Archdiocese of Vitória, the National Movement of Human Rights, and a representative of Deputy Iriny Lopes, who is a member of the Human Rights Commission of the Federal Chamber, all participated in the prison visit.

 On this visit, we were informed by the detainees and we could testify to the aggressions that they have suffered.  Almost all the people listed below had visible physical lesions, many of which were found exclusively on the buttocks.  All of them affirmed that the lesions occurred during the beatings that they received from the military police responsible for the incarceration.  All of them complained of pains and some of them were unable to walk well.  The Secretary of Justice sent the prisoners to be physically examined and requested a copy of the results in order to proceed with the corrections of the responsible parties.[4]

The detained that were sent to be examined are: 

1-     Tobias Claudino Nascimento , born on June 10, 1979 in Linhares

2-     Roberto César Sanches de Oliveira, born on  July 16, 1978 in Vitória

3-     Agnaldo da Silva, born on 04/01/1981

4-     Eduardo Alves Rocha Ou Luis Carlos Nascimento, born on June 4, 1979 in Rio Bananal

5-     Emerson Batista Antunes, born on November 5, 1978 in Vila Velha

6-     Derli de Almeida Amorim, born on November 9, 1978 in São Gabriel da Palha

7-     César Dias Pereira, born on October 28, 1978, in Vila Velha

8-     José Roberto Ferrari, born on August 29, 1973

9-     Marcio Martins Oliveira, born on March 8, 1972, Rio de Janeiro

10- Douglas Campos Silva, born on October 10, 1974, in Vitória

11- Josevaldo Natividade ou Joanilson Carlos de Araújo, born on March 5, 1975, Ilhéus-BA

12- Gaspar Garcia de Aguiar, born on October 9, 1979, in Vitória

13- Davi Marcolino Vicente, born on February 3, 1982, in Vitória

14- Marcos Silva Teodoro, born on March 23, 1972, Vitória

15- Marcelo Diniz Alves, born on December 12, 1976, in Vitória

16- Francisco Gadelha Costa Neto, born on July 7, 1969, Rio Grande do Norte

It is necessary to construct a new mechanism to protect human rights

 Recent operations of the federal police, named “Vampiro”, “Anaconda”, and the investigations of the Comissão Parlamentar Mista de Inquérito, CPMI-Banestado (Mixed Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry) demonstrated that criminal activities in other parts of the country have a base in the same operational mode that has been verified here.

 While analyzing the relationship between crime and the politics of the state of Espírito Santo, Professor Célia Maria Vilela Tavares affirmed that this phenomenon could be extended to other Brazilian regions: 

“The association of authoritarian practices with the politics of “repaying favors” increased corruption in public administration, which contributed to the instalation of organized crime in instances of the State.  Therefore, we began to live with the absence of the law, which, in its turn, opened the way for arbitrary enforcement in detriment to the practice of respect for the law and the notion of limit. The corruption, criminality, disorder, and transgression mutually reinforced one another in a viscous circle creating a network of complicity that grew between the Executive, the Legislative, the Judicial, and part of civil society.”[5]

 This being the case, we report that the gravity of the problem is the fragility of the State. However, it is up to our society to establish the parameters of a responsible structure through public management.

 The perseverance of the people of Espírito Santo in the battle to confront organized crime during these three long decades owes itself to an alliance between civil society and some sectors of the State. Political and social alliances are fundamental in this process.

 The recent results we obtained are promising. For example, in the 2004 municipal elections, more than 50% of the local administrations changed hands, which means the defeat of important centers of the municipal Mafia.

 On the other hand, in the short term, there is a great deal of work to be done within local public organizations. The defenders of human rights are reinforcing their activity in the search for changes in conduct, especially from justice and security agents who need to redeem human and social values.

* Tânia Maria Silveira is a member of the State Counsel of Human Rights and an advisor to Congresswoman Iriny Lopes.

[1] A TRIBUNA,  page 16, Vitória / Espírito Santo, 10/10/2004.

[2] ALMANAQUE ABRIL,  page 94,  2003 edition.

[3] A TRIBUNA ,  page 19, Vitória / Espírito Santo, 10/10/2004.

[4] OF/Nº 24/2004 – SEJUS/PSMA/ADM,  October 14, 2004, Viana / Espírito Santo0

[5] TAVARES, Célia Maria Vilela; Crime e Política no Espírito Santo (Crime & Politics in Espírito Santo) ; Universidade Federal Fluminense; Niterói; 2004.