2017: a rough year for Brazil

. Dec 29, 2017
2017 rough year brazil gangs Photo: Fernando Frazão/ABr (Sep. 2017)
2017 rough year brazil

Gangs were responsible for violent episodes in Rio. Photo: Fernando Frazão/ABr (Sep. 2017)

Brazil began 2017 in macabre fashion, with mass killings and violent deaths reaching alarming levels over the twelve months. In the first hours of the year, news spread of a deadly prison uprising in prisons in the North and Northeast, where brewing tensions between rival drug trafficking gangs in overcrowded penitentiaries killed upwards of 140 inmates.

Unfortunately, this was not the only massacre in Brazil this year: in September, 10 members of a previously uncontacted indigenous tribe in a remote area of the Amazon were murdered by gold miners. Meanwhile, activists and human rights watchdogs say that indigenous groups and quilombolas have both been subject to even higher levels of lethal violence this year.

</p> <p>But individual acts of violence have also been rising. In January, <a href="">a police strike</a> in the state of Espírito Santo caused chaos, with mass lootings, assaults and more than 120 murders in just one week. Meanwhile, <a href="">one year on</a> from the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro has had its most violent year in <a href="">almost a decade</a>, according to recent statistics. Victims of violence <a href="">in Rio’s peripheries</a> have been a repeated topic of conversation, following the tragic shooting of 13-year-old <a href="">Maria Eduarda</a> in a police operation in March, and <a href="">many more like her</a>.</p> <p>Favela residents report almost constant shooting in several periods of the year. Increased tension between rival cartels in <a href="">Rocinha</a>, combined with operations to arrest infamous trafficker <a href="">Rogerio 157</a>, saw an intense period of shooting in September. Additionally, the national army <a href="">rolled out in tanks</a> in the <em>cidade maravilha</em> in August, with <a href="">plans to stay</a> until the end of next year.</p> <p>This year also saw worrying levels of <a href="">gender-based violence</a> and is set to be the <a href="">deadliest year on record</a> for anti-LGBTQ violence. This accompanies attempts to <a href="">re-introduce ‘conversion therapy’</a> for LGBTQ Brazilians and damaging proposals to <a href="">modify</a> the country’s Maria da Penha domestic violence law. Other attacks on human rights laws also included <a href="">renewed attempts</a> to reduce the age of criminal responsibility and a repeated campaign to <a href="">further liberate weapons sales</a>.</p> <div id="attachment_1964" style="width: 2058px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1964" class="size-full wp-image-1964" src="" alt="lgbtq brazil" width="2048" height="1439" srcset=" 2048w, 300w, 768w, 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 2048px) 100vw, 2048px" /><p id="caption-attachment-1964" class="wp-caption-text">Photo: Gibran Mendes/CUT-PR</p></div> <p>Attempts to <a href="">restrict abortion laws</a> also lead to protests across key cities, as the religious lobby in Congress hijacked a bill aimed at expanding maternity leave rights to include a clause to ‘protect life from conception’. Afro-Brazilian religions, who have been reporting increased attacks since mid-2013, also recorded a <a href=";utm_source=The_Root_twitter">new wave</a> of violence against devotees and sacred grounds.</p> <p>In addition to renewed attacks on rights, 2017 also saw a failure to uphold several significant resolutions. Two years after the Mariana dam tragedy, mining giant Samarco <a href="">has yet to pay out</a> many of the damages owed to communities swept away by tides of toxic mud, while social divides increase in nearby mining cities.</p> <p>Additionally, the Mariana tragedy was linked to a surge in yellow fever cases this year, which the government was unprepared for. And one year after the Chapecoense plane crash, which almost wiped out an entire team of rising football stars and 21 journalists, reparations have yet to be delivered but <a href="">inquiries indicate</a> that high levels of corruption across several Latin American countries were factors in the crash.</p> <p>But street protests didn’t gather the same momentum as the pre-impeachment protests in 2016, despite the number of shocks rippling through the country. A <a href="">general strike</a>, in protest of proposed pension reforms, turned violent in several cities and largely failed to gain support among the population despite the reform’s unpopularity. Outside of the cities, the expansive Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park became the site of a <a href="">huge wildfire</a>, which was later revealed to be arson. Additionally, on Brazil’s border with Venezuela, <a href="">trouble spilled over</a> into Roraima state, creating hundreds of Venezuelan and indigenous refugees.</p> <p>Nor have there been any shortage of faux-pas by public figures. In addition to <a href="">insulting world leaders</a> at various intervals this year, President Temer also <a href="">managed to slight women</a> on International Women’s Day. But veteran news presenter William Waack gave Temer some competition, when he was caught making a <a href="">racist comment on a hot mic</a> during Black Consciousness Month. Afro-Brazilian activists decided to re-appropriate the slur, using the hashtag #ÉCoisadePreta (#It’sABlackThing) to promote important historical and cultural figures and black Brazilian accomplishments.

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