(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over 70 per cent of Brazilian politicians are light-skinned.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
News articles, videos and images looking at life and living in modern Brazil.