Category Archives: Murder

Local Brazilian Funk DJ shot to death outside his home last night

(WARNING: Disturbing image in link at end of article)

A Funk DJ in Belo Horizonte was shot dead outside his house in Pampulha last night by two motorcyclists that rode past him, confirmed it was him and then circled back to open fire. He was shot ten times and died at the scene.

Although police say they don’t know the motive for the killing, rumours are that DJ Paulinho was mixed up with the wrong girl – a girl already attached to someone dangerous. His death could have been as petty as that – seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?

The worst thing about it is that this motive has been seen before in the Brazilian music scene.

The rumours echo the murder of MC Daleste a few years back, a huge Funk star making $60,000 a night when he was murdered (reportedly by cops) live on stage. MC Daleste was supposed to have been fooling around with a girl attached to a big drug-trafficker. For that, he was killed.

DJ Paulinho wasn’t a mega-star DJ in Brazil, but he had enough sets that he would work the local Funk circuit in Belo Horizonte, and he’d toured in the US, Portugal and France. He had a song called “Vai Paulin Vai Paulin” which got pretty famous.

Below is a video of him doing a Funk mix at Conexão Rio. The crime-scene image for DJ Paulinho is here – don’t click the link if you don’t want to see a dead body or blood.

Rest in peace – descanse em paz.

 

 

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Six reasons Neymar represents everything that’s wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite

Although the advertising machine around Neymar works hard to make him appear a pretty nice guy, here’s six reasons why the footballer – rightly or wrongly – represents everything wrong with Brazil’s wealthy, corrupt elite and the crushing inequality these powerful figures create.

1) He, or the people around him, are corrupt: When Neymar signed for Barcelona its vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Neymar’s transfer fee was €87.2 million. They then declared the  official transfer fee on documents as €57 million, as €40 million “supposedly… flowed to a company which is close to Neymar’s family.”

Brazilian politicians are famously corrupt. One politician was elected to Brazil’s Congress while under investigation for murder after having an adversary killed with a chain saw. Another is wanted by Interpol after being found guilty of diverting more than $10 million from a public road project to offshore bank accounts. I can’t find the source but I read recently that 60 per cent of Brazilian politicians are currently under police investigation.

2) He’s rich: Neymar was making 1.5 million reais a year at just 16 years old. He makes 9 million euros a year now playing for Barcelona.

Similarly, Brazilian politicians are among the highest paid and least productive in the world.

And in the world of business the 15 Richest Families In Brazil are worth an estimated $122 billion — or about 5% of the country’s total GDP. Out of 65 Brazilian billionaires listed by FORBES in its World’s Billionaires list, 25 are blood relatives.

3) He’ll sell himself to the highest bidder: Neymar has sponsorship deals with Castrol, Red Bull, Volkswagen and Panasonic and an 11 year boot deal with Nike worth at least $1 million per year. There’s nothing wrong with footballers making hay while the sun shines, though.

Brazilian politicians see nothing wrong using the same “sponsorship” tactics, however. Municipal and state officials are close to the mega-corporations that run Brazil’s construction, beverage, transport, energy and food industries. The cost of building Brasilia’s World Cup stadium nearly tripled to $900m in public funds, for example, largely due to allegedly fraudulent billing.

This after the construction company for Brasilia’s stadium increased its political donations 500-fold in the most recent election.

4) He’s light-skinned: Neymar’s dying his hair blonde might seem insignificant, but it takes on huge cultural significance in a country that has a legacy of slavery and inequality. It’s known as “Branqueamento”, (“Whitening”) and can lead to a prosperous shift from the darker-skinned underclass to the lighter-skinned Brazilian elite.

Neymar a few days ago: tall and tanned and young and blonde?
Neymar before the Brazil-Mexico game: tall and tanned and young and blonde.

Over 70 per cent of Brazilian politicians are light-skinned.

The Berkeley Review suggests this is because white Brazilians have more money on average than non-whites. Brazilian politicians elected to office had significantly higher mean total assets, at 432,000 Brazilian reais (R$), than those who were not elected, whose average assets totaled only R$188,000. White Brazilians have an average net worth of R$440,000, compared to R$247,000 for non-whites, indicating that on average white politicians simply have more cash to spend on campaigns than non-whites, and therefore gain power more easily.

5) He left Brazil: In 2010 Neymar’s agent said Neymar “wants to become the best player in the world. The chances of him doing that while playing in Brazil are zero.” Neymar added that  it was a “dream” of his “to play in Europe”.

There’s nothing against a football player wanting to play for one of the biggest teams in the world, and those teams are in Europe. But it is a familiar desire amongst the wealthy Brazilian elite to leave the country (they have the power to change, rather than rob from) and in which they have made their fortune to hide their money in Cayman Islands bank accounts or spend it on handbags, iPhones and suits in New York and Europe.

In 2005 a senior politician in Lula’s government was seized at an airport with $100,000 in his underwear as part of the Mensalão corruption saga.

6) He’s not afraid of backing out on a promise: Neymar promised his youth club Santos he wouldn’t leave them until after the 2014 World Cup. Santos consequently doubled his wages to raise him to European footballer salary levels.

…And in 2013 Neymar signed for Barcelona, anyway.

Politicians are familiar with breaking promises. A trainline between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro promised for the 2014 World Cup has, as of today, never even started. A huge number of World Cup projects remain unfinished or were never started. Belo Horizonte’s metro system was supposed to be extended for the World Cup. As of today it has one line.

Dilma, Cade o Metro? ("Where is the Metro?")
Dilma, Cade o Metro? (“Where is the Metro?”)

So there you have it; six reasons why Neymar represents everything that wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite.

Interview with Brazil’s “Chainsaw Queen” politician, who wants to loosen laws to chop down more trees in Brazil

Brazilian politician Kátia Abreu leads agricultural lobbying in loosening controls on Amazon deforestation. She wants to make Brazil a powerhouse in the exportation of soy products, a plan which will require deforestation to take place, unless it can be carefully controlled in areas like Minas Gerais’ Triângulo Mineiro.

Here are the highlights from her interview with The Guardian about a country in which more environmental activists are murdered than anywhere else in the world.

Running for president is not a plan – it is fate. Criticism from radical environmentalists is the best form of endorsement. It gives me satisfaction. It shows I am on the right track and playing the right role.”

“We have all the essential elements: abundant water, advanced technology and plenty of land for production. Based on this, we can become number one without cutting down trees.”

She alleges environmentalists, indigenous groups and landless peasants are working for foreign interests. “I don’t have concrete proof of this but I get a very strong impression that this is the case.”

“Forty years ago, the average Brazilian spent 50% of his or her income on food. Now the proportion is about 18%.”

“For many years, environmentalism reached an extreme pitch and we in the agribusiness sector were treated like criminals. Now, our agribusiness sector can influence the choice of kings and queens in Brazil. In the past, we only exercised economic influence. Now we also have political power.”

Most chillingly, Abreu said:

“We cannot rest on our laurels. There are many things holding back progress – the environmental issue, the Indian issue and more. But even with these problems we keep producing high levels of productivity. Imagine how high it might be without those obstacles.”

Protests after 72-year-old woman shot dead in Rio favela Alemão

A 72-year-old woman was shot dead during a gun-battle between police and drug-traffickers last night in Favela Nova Brasília, part of the Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro, sparking a protest amongst residents that ran through the night. Three cars were set alight near the main coordination center of the city’s Police Pacification Units, permanent police stations set up in the middle of “pacified” favelas. 

Both Maré and the Complexo do Alemão complexes are located close to the city’s main international airport and major central thoroughfares and public transport transit links, infrastructure critical to the World Cup.

The Maré favela was occupied by federal troops at the beginning of April in a bid to quell violence in the strategically-located shantytown ahead of the soccer tournament

According to police, a group of officers were patrolling at 18h30 when drug-traffickers shot at them. They returned fire and the elderly Arlinda Bezerra de Assis was shot during the exchange.

The Complexo do Alemão is one of the recently “pacified” favelas (“Pacificação”) in anticipation for the 2014  World Cup.

On the same day police arrested a man suspected of killing a police-officer earlier in the year. 21-year-old Ramires Roberto da Silva was found in an abandoned house in Alemão, and he reportedly tried to bribe the police with R$100,000 (about US$45,000 or £25k) if they let him go. 

21-year-old Ramires Roberto da Silva was found in an abandoned house in Alemão, tried to bribe police with R$100,000
21-year-old Ramires Roberto da Silva was found in an abandoned house in Alemão, tried to bribe police with R$100,000

Eight of Brazil’s 12 World Cup host cities are in the 50 most dangerous cities in the World

Empty perfume bottles used to deal drugs found in an abandoned house in Rio de Janeiro.
Empty perfume bottles used to deal drugs found in an abandoned house in Rio de Janeiro.

Out of Brazil’s 12 host cities for the 2014 World Cup, eight of them feature in the top 50 deadliest cities in the world.

The city with the highest murder rate in Brazil is Maceió in the northern state of Bahia, close to Salvador, a World Cup host city. It had a staggering 85 murders per 100,000 residents last year.

See the list below, but speaking from my own perspective living in Belo Horizinte (No. 48 on the list), I feel fairly safe on the streets, and the murders are contained to the poorer areas of the city, where drug-dealing and corruption are rife. Visiting tourists might get mugged, but as long as you hand everything over without a fight you’re unlikely to get killed (Youtube link).

Two striking omissions from the list: São Paulo is now approaching the 10 homicides per 100,000 mark, down from 35 in 1999, and in Rio de Janeiro the murder rate dropped from 42 murders per 100,000 in 2005 to 24 murders per 100,000 in 2012.

It is rising again, however. And it should also be noted that a lot of deaths are recorded as “Unexplained”, and don’t make the murder statistics. Bodies are regularly dumped in the jungle outside of big cities and, if ever found, recorded as unexplained.

In the order they feature in the list:

49) Brasilia scrapes into the Top 50 with 29 murders per 100,000 people.

48) Belo Horizonte barely scrapes in, too, with 29 murders per 100,000 people.

42) Curitiba is next on the list with 34 murders per 100,000 people.

30) Recife had 44 murders per 100,000 people.

28) Cuiaba had 45 per 100,000.

14) Salvador had 65 murders per 100,000 people.

13) Fortaleza tied with Salvador.

11) Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon, had 70 murders for every 100,000 people.

No. 1 on the list is San Pedro Sula in the Honduras, with 169 murders for every 100,000 citizens, followed by cities in Venezuela and Mexico. A total of 15 Brazilian cities are featured on the list.

A Rio de Janeiro's tools of the trade: a gun, a bullet-proof vest and a mobile phone.
A Rio de Janeiro’s tools of the trade: a 9mm handgun, a bullet-proof vest and a mobile phone.

Amazon Rainforest in Brazil the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists

According to Global Witness, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil remains the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists. Of 908 environmental activists killed in 35 countries since 2002, 448 were murdered in one country alone: Brazil.

And the murder rate is increasing; from 51 in 2002 to 147 in 2012. In most cases the killers are out free, with only 10 convictions out of 908 dead.

In Brazil, most activists are protesting issues related to natural resources and land-rights, and most victims are indigenous people and minorities.

Barbara Ruiz of the United Nations Environment Programme believes intimidation, violence and criminality are also common against activists. In one example, villagers protesting a mega-project that would cut through their land and destroy their livelihoods were “accused of terrorism for speaking against state security forces who had tried to  expel them from the area.”

Last year Spanish biologist Gonzalo Alonso Hernández, who clashed regularly with illegal loggers and ranchers, was executed in Rio de Janeiro. 

José Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife were murdered by masked gunmen after denouncing illegal logging in the Brazilian state of Para. José had one of his ears ripped off as proof of his execution. Two men were imprisoned, but the farm-owner accused of paying for the killings was acquitted. The farm-owner had purchased land on which three indigenous families lived and da Silva was campaigning to keep them there. 

Deforestation of the Amazon has become a battleground for activists and paramilitary groups. Deforestation increased in 2013 by 28 per cent after a consecutive four-year decline, and environmentalists blame a relaxation of laws that once protected the jungle. According to Global Witness, the regions most affected by deforestation in the Amazon now have the highest recorded violence against activists.

 

How to make a million dollars a year in Brazil: Funk Ostentação music – São Paulo rappers, gold, champagne and cars

Money, luxury and showing off. “Funk” music coming out of São Paulo is all about being ostentatious (“Ostentação”) with your wealth, and that means designer clothes, imported cars, nightclubs and women.

Watching Funk Ostentação on Youtube is like watching 90’s American rap videos; singers throw champagne around in fake nightclubs, walk in front of expensive (hired) cars and hover-hand strippers that dance as if they’re not sure if the director yelled “Cut!” or not.

Funkeiros ostentação - these guys can make £60,000 (US$100,000) a month here in Brazil...
Funkeiros ostentação – these guys can make £60,000 (US$100,000) a month here in Brazil…

With lyrics that highlight an ambition to leave the favela  and live the good life of women, nightclubs, cars and jewels, Funk Ostentação singers are self-fulfilling dream-makers. Videos on Youtube showing them counting fake US dollar bills and standing in front of expensive imported cars now make them tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue, and the biggest Funk Ostentação stars charge R$10,000 (US$4,000, £2,700) a show.

Although this kind of wasteful excess seems arrogant and cruel given the huge inequality between rich and poor in Brazil, its biggest stars talk freely about their lives before they became stars – MC Tchesko sold pastries from a street-cart and MC Felipinho washed cars.

MC Guime
MC Guime

The new style of Funk made headlines last year when MC Daleste was shot dead live on stage in Sao Paulo. MC Daleste was pulling in £60,000 a month as a rapper before he was shot dead (link to his Youtube video).

MC Daleste was making £60,000 a month as a rapper before he was shot dead on stage.
MC Daleste was making £60,000 a month as a Funk rapper before he was shot dead on stage.

Four other Funk Ostentação MCs have also been shot dead, supposedly by ex-police “grupos de exterminio”(death-squads) targeting rappers with anti-police lyrics, although my sources tell me MC Daleste was killed for stealing a woman from a dangerous drug-trafficker. These rappers have gained a form of respect from even the middle classes, who normally scoff and talk about the hyper-sexualised lyrics of Funk Carioca music.

When an 18-year-old kid that used to wash cars is pulling in 10x more than a middle-aged doctor makes in a  year, and goes on stage every night despite the threat of getting shot dead, how can you not stop and admire their bravado just a little?