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A State Department official reports a gruesome attack on a Rio de Janeiro bus.
FROM: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: DECEMBER 8, 2005
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¶1. Cariocas (Rio de Janeiro residents) awoke November 30 to a gruesome news story in the daily, O Globo, concerning the death of five passengers and wounding of fourteen others on a bus the previous night. In a city where police brutality and drug gang violence have become almost daily routine, the story that twelve drug gang members had burned the bus to seek revenge on the Military Police who had killed one of their members the same day in the same favela, Bras de Pina, was shocking...
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¶3. On December 1, police discovered four gang members shot dead, in an abandoned automobile. A 13- year old illiterate, drug-using, orphaned female, detained on December 3, confessed to being part of the gang that attacked the 350 bus on Passeio-Iraja bus line and identified the four dead males as having participated in the attack. They were reportedly ordered murdered by a gang leader named Mica, who is vying for control of the gang with the head of drug trafficking in the Morro da Fe, Lorde, who ordered the original bus attack. Police, however, are also investigating other possible explanations for these acts, such as retaliation against a crooked cop attempt to extort the gang or Brazil's most feared druglord, Fernandinho Beira-Mar of the Red Command (Comando Vermelho), ordering the hit from his maximum security seclusion in the north of Brazil for unknown reasons. An anonymous phone call to the police, ostensibly by a Red Command member, said the four dead gang members were not shot in the head, specifically so that they could be recognized both by the victims and the police...
¶5. As Marcelo Itagiba, the State Secretary for Public Security, says with frequency: The police cannot address the root causes of violence in Brazilian society - lack of education, lack of housing, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of jobs, lack of hope - that make the poor particularly vulnerable to victimizing and being victimized.