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English Report

Between May and August of 2006, three crime waves rocked the State of São Paulo. Police officers’ involvement with criminals by extorting them, and living off of their money, or getting into disputes with criminals about who has the power to commit crimes, make what is illegal the norm and cast aside the legal norm.

They did not see the Brazilian soccer team get defeated

Aton Fon Filho[1]

1. The Party of Crime

Nilton Celestino

Nilton was happy when he went to sleep that night.  After all, although it was the first time that Ghana had made it to the World Cup, they made it as one of the eight final teams, second place in a group in which everyone knew from the start that Italy would place first. And Brazil beat Ghana 3-0 with a fantastic goal by Ronaldo, “the Phenomenon.” It is a good thing that Nilton was not that much of a soccer fan; actually, he was not much of a fan of any sport, because God’s plan for him did not leave him much time for it.  Still, during the World Cup, a game was not a game; it was a reunion of Brazilians. And it was always worth rooting for a goal by Kaká to see the hidden t-shirt he reveals that praises the Lord.

Nilton was a penitentiary agent, and had spent long days taking care of cells during night shifts. He never cared for being around the convicted, which was why it was worth the effort to learn computer science, and get transferred to the CDP (Temporary Detention Center) computer center in Itapecerica da Serra city.

He did not feel disgust toward the prisoners because God teaches everyone to love sinners and reject sin. However, perhaps the strengthening of faith demands even more distance from the seduction of sin. And sin, judging from the voices of the sinners, was always waiting in the corners of the hallways, a request to be favored here, and a promise of reward.

Nilton rejected favoring sin. He suffered to see how sin spread within those walls, not just in the thoughts and actions of those who had been sent to be purged of sin, but among those who were there to help in their redemption. Nilton dreamed of the day that the rejection of sin would unite Brazilians like the national soccer team that brought them together. And maybe this dream was the cause of his sleepiness during the games, or maybe he was just tired. After all, these are hard times for those who do not bend toward the will of sin. Nilton fell asleep during the game and woke up at the very moment Adriano made a goal. “I was just tired,” he thought.  And now that same tiredness would increase a little bit more, because Nilton managed to get a side job as a mason’s assistant. Maybe the pay from this job would be enough to pay for new shingles for his roof.

For this reason, Nilton was happy when he went to sleep that night. The Lord was his shepherd, the mason’s assistant job had come at a good time, and Brazil had beaten Ghana.

Eduardo Rodrigues

The Brazilian team still had hope. There were no guarantees, because the game, the special touch, and the team still had not come together, although the players had been together for so long, and without a doubt, they were the best.  And to be—or to have—the best always fills us with pride.

Eduardo had his own sources of pride; pride of his family, of having a job, of being honest. What was not a source of pride was the tiny 14-inch television that would always break at the worst moments, the times when we once again would sit down, united as one people, watching to see if Ronaldo would run a little bit more, to lose a little more weight. Lose weight to win the World Cup.

Eduardo was a penitentiary agent. His job scared him a lot and in a way, this fear came from his pride in being honest. Eduardo said “No!” when prisoners ordered him to do things that were wrong, because he did not want to have to think later that he was not honest anymore.

Eduardo refused to be another one of those people who do not have pride in their lives, who only feel they are better because they got a little bit more money, without worrying about the crime that generated it. The money would even be nice, Eduardo could have been thinking, for it would finally allow him to have a 29-inch television, like so many of his coworkers bragged about having. But Eduardo did not have one of those screens at home; he only had a mirror in which he could look at himself without shame. Eduardo missed out on the 29-inch screen, but he gained dignity.

The Crime Party did not like Eduardo because he appreciated having his dignity more than a 29-inch television.  There were people who even said that he must be crazy to not accept such a good proposal, especially when, as a bonus, Eduardo would earn the right to stay alive.  But it seemed that Eduardo had doubts about whether living under the orders of the Crime Party was really living at all.

The Crime Party started a war with the prosecutors of crime, because they lived to prosecute crimes that would, in turn, promote themselves, and they set a trap for the Crime Party.  The details of this trap were never clarified well, beyond some authorities saying that it had been criminal.  Eduardo also did not want anything to do with the prosecutors of crime, because they actually acted as promoters of crime. “They do their thing, I do mine!” It didn’t matter that Eduardo had been “a drunk” or “a devil.”  It wasn’t that Eduardo chose to make martyrs out of the criminals, and punish crime with more crime. It was simply that Eduardo had a stubborn pride of not getting involved with crime, it didn’t matter what side.

Eduardo just wanted to watch the Brazil soccer game. Therefore, before it was too late, he took his 14-inch television to be repaired so he would not have to bother anyone or ask for a favor when it was time for the game to start, because the crimes of the Crime Party and of the promoters of crime left everyone, friends, neighbors, scared. And they could be afraid to invite Eduardo to watch the game with them because he did not work for the Crime Party, and he wasn’t protected by the protectors of crime.

On July 1st, the Brazilian national soccer team would play against France and Eduardo tried to go early, before 10am, to get his 14-inch television from the repair shop.

2. The promoters of crime

Renato Brigadeiro

Renato Brigadeiro was trying to get up from the floor that night in May. It was very cold, but it was a different cold from all the others he had felt before.  Brigadeiro did not remember how it had gotten so cold, so suddenly. He only remembered that they had ordered him and the others coming out of the bar to stand against the wall. And afterwards, he was on the ground with this pain and the cold. Maybe it would have been better to go straight home, because the war between the Crime Party and the promoters of crime would eventually take to the streets. “When will it be,” he had thought, “that men will learn the necessity of giving peace a chance?”

Renato “Brigadeiro” thought about his mother.  Renato “Brigadeiro” thought about Mother’s Day, the flowers he had sold, and flowers for his mother.

Maurício de Assis Menezes

Maurício de Assis Menezes knew that he was dying. The promoters of crime came down the road and ordered him, the hippie, and the can collector to stand up against the wall, and shot at them. They shot whenever they felt like it. And they felt like it a lot. Now, Maurício was dying, not wanting to die, asking Francisco from the bar to not let him die, to not let him become another statistic in the news of the promoters of crime.  He was dying like Davi “Cabeludo,” dying because he did not want to be a part of the Crime Party or the promoters of crime.

3. The waves of crime

Between May and August of 2006, three crime waves rocked the State of São Paulo and showed how crime develops because of State involvement.

The public agents who sometimes act in conjunction with criminals, extort them and live off of their money, or get into disputes with criminals about who has the power to commit crimes, make what is illegal the norm and cast aside the legal norm.

After State agents adopted crime as a method, this became the method of crime.  Between these and other criminals, the honest public agents and the unassisted population, particularly in the poor areas of Sao Paulo, are obliged to move among the violence of both groups.

On the eve of, and right after, the final games of the World Cup in Germany, the violent shock produced 119 “suspects,” killed by the police, and the circumstances of their deaths or their possible relation with criminal activities were never clarified.  In addition, 65 people were assassinated by criminal gangs.

The two penitentiary agents Nilton Celestino and Eduardo Rodrigues, and Maurício de Assis Menezes and Renato Brigadeiro, inhabitants of Capão Redondo, were killed by criminal gangs and the police during that time.

Nilton Celestino was just arriving at his mason’s assistant job when he was eliminated by members of the Crime Party who did not agree with his refusal to help them. Eduardo Rodrigues was killed when he went to pick up his 14-inch television that he had taken to be fixed, hoping to watch Brazil play in the World Cup in Germany.

Maurício de Assis Menezes was killed by the police in Capão Redondo, as he was coming out of the bar where he worked, in front of the bar next to where Renato Brigadeiro and three other people were killed.

They did not see Brazil lose the World Cup. But with their deaths, Brazil suffered a much larger defeat than the one it suffered in Germany.

[1] Aton Fon Filho is an attorney and the director of the Social Network of Justice and Human Rights