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News > Brazil

Thousands Being Killed by Rio Police

  • Brazilian police during drug raid in a favela.

    Brazilian police during drug raid in a favela. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 September 2019

Rio de Janeiro police has killed a very high number of civilians as part of the Governor Wilson Witzel’s war on drugs.

Baby Enzo became one of the youngest civilian victims of Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel’s war on drugs, after he was gunned down in the arms of his mother, Margareth Teixeira, as she carried him to church in August. The bullet wound nearly cost him his left foot but he was lucky to survive, unlike his 17-year-old mother.


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Another three teenage victims, none of them carrying firearms, were found dead after police raids on the over 1,000 favelas in the sprawling coastal city between August 9 and 13. The number of deaths at the hands of state security forces and police in Rio's economically poor favelas is increaing under the conservative Witzel, that has gotten the tacit approval of right-wing Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, in office since last January.

Gabriel Alves, 18, was on his way to the school with a bag full of books. Dyogo Costa, 16, was going to his usual football training session with a pair of boots. Henrico de Menezes Jr, 19, was just picking up his motorbike from a repair shop when they were all caught in the cross fires of the police raids that now include state helicopters opening fire on the communities.

According to the Institute of Public Security, during the first seven months of this year, police were responsible for 30 percent of all violent deaths in the state of Rio, bringing the number of dead to over a thousand people, the highest number in more than two decades in the densely populated city.

Wilson Witzel, who took power in January and promised to wipe out the drug gangs that control almost all Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, refused to accept any responsibility of these or any other casualty as a result of his drug war.

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