The other pandemic in Latin America: the countries with the most violence and police abuse
Brazil has the highest rate of police abuse in all of Latin America and its police are the ones that count the most murders in the region
The pandemic generated by the new coronavirus has exposed the wide inequalities in Latin American society. Also one of its worst realities: the abuse of power and police brutality. It is a scourge with severe impunity that has become radicalized amidst the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 situation.
The murder of African-American George Floyd by the police in the US sparked a wave of violent protests in that country. Thus, it showed the world the racism in the police and the abuse of power that these officials continually exercise against the population.
The massive protests have also called into question the US government structure. In addition, they exposed other similar cases of police abuse that occur almost daily in that country.
But abuse of power and police brutality is not unique to the United States. Latin America also suffers from it and even more strongly in some countries, where police officers abuse their powers to attack civilians. They also get involved in drug trafficking networks, robberies, contract killings, extortion, bribery, among other crimes.
For this reason, the peoples have joined the protests of police abuses to denounce numerous cases of similar characteristics to the murder of Floyd. However, in addition to racism they include xenophobia, classism and even supremacism.
Among these cases there are hate crimes by the police against social, political, peasant, indigenous, gender and social leaders.
Police abuse throughout the region
Police abuses are recorded throughout Latin America. There are countless cases reported in El Salvador, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and other countries. But, many cases remain in anonymity for fear of the victims of receiving reprisals.
In Argentina, for example, the claim for national cases of police violence in recent times stands out. One of the last that resonated in the press was that of the Senegalese vendor Mbake Ndao, arrested on Wednesday June 10 by agents of the municipality’s Citizens Control Unit together with the Police of the province of Buenos Aires.
“While I was on Calle 47 and 7, leaving with my things, someone grabbed me from behind with both arms around my waist and threw me abruptly and brutally against the wall”, he said with the help of a Senegalese colleague who was able to translate his words. “Then they throw me on the floor and a policeman grabs me by the neck so hard that I couldn’t breathe”, he told the prosecution.
In the middle of May, another murder by the Police in the country filled the local press. Luis Espinoza, a 31-year-old farm worker (peón) from Tucumán, was shot in the back on May 15 by a policeman from Monteagudo, in the same province. His body appeared seven days later 85 kilometers from the place where he was attacked.
A third case shocked Argentina weeks later. Members of the Saravia Fernández family, from the Qom indigenous community, originally from the Chaco province, were beaten, tortured and sexually abused after six policemen raided their residence without a court order.
Brazil, Chile and Mexico
Brazil has the highest rate of police abuse in all of Latin America. For this reason, its police are the ones that count the most murders in the region, according to figures from 2018, when 6,220 fatalities were registered.
Current complaints insist that police abuse has escalated with the arrival of Jair Bolsonaro to power. The far right has decided to kill at close range in the so-called favelas, popular neighborhoods settled in the upper areas of the largest cities.
In Chile, different types of police abuses have also been registered for years. The Mapuche and Haitian communities are two examples of social groups that are victims of systemic racism. The case of the Mapuche leader Camilo Catrillanca, shot dead by Sergeant Carlos Alarcón, of the Carabineros, on November 14, 2018, is one of the most representative.
Another case of police negligence remembered in Chile is that of the young Haitian Joane Florvil, unjustly detained by the Police, accusing her of alleged abandoning her daughter, a fact that ended up being real when the police separated the infant from her mother, who ended up hospitalized. in a hospital for not knowing how to speak Spanish, and where she later died under strange circumstances.
In the recent protests against the Sebastián Piñera regime, police abuses are carried out throughout the country, especially against truck drivers who distribute goods, from whom they ask for “bites” (Mordidas in Spanish, which means they — the police — want money so as to let them pass) Also, police lethality is carried out daily against civilians who end up missing and killed for opposing the president.
In Mexico, during the night of June 9, Alexander, a 16-year-old boy, was shot to death by the police in the southern state of Oaxaca. Three days earlier, social media made public the case of a 15-year-old girl, who was repeatedly kicked by police officers in Mexico City, in the middle of a civil demonstration against police repression.
The demonstration responded to the murder of Giovanni López, a 30-year-old bricklayer violently detained by the Police of the state of Jalisco (west), and died shortly after, in conditions that have not yet been clarified.
Bolivia and Paraguay
Police abuses are also seen in countries such as Bolivia, under the dictatorship of Jeanine Áñez, and Paraguay, under the government of Mario Abdo Benítez.
Recently in Paraguay, two Argentine girls, aged 11 and 12, who were in a camp of the Paraguayan People’s Army, a guerrilla group that faces conservative regimes in search of a change in the political model, were murdered.
Although it is not a police case, it does relate the abuse of power by the State security forces. Investigations confirmed that the girls were executed with their backs turned. President Benítez himself participated in the operation. This incident has also strained relations between Argentina and Paraguay.
In Bolivia, the Áñez dictatorship has unleashed — after the coup against Evo Morales — a highly repressive totalitarian regime, constantly denounced for brutal human rights violations. Police abuses and repression are counted in the thousands, with more than 30 people killed and thousands injured.
Complaints of the same nature are reported in newspapers by some local media in El Salvador, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala and other countries in the region.
Colombia: violent police brutality
Colombia is one of the countries that registers the most abuses. The figures include murders of all kinds of people and massacres.
The most recent case is that of the lawyer Javier Ordóñez, viciously electrocuted by the police even though he asked that they no longer torture him when he was arrested in the middle of a street in Bogotá.
The murder of Ordóñez generated such outrage that Colombians took to the streets en masse to attack and burn police posts in the city. These events generated more repression and police brutality, along with the murder of at least 13 other victims.
These protests — before the pandemic — had another version when in other demonstrations against the government of Iván Duque, at least four citizens died and another 140 were injured.
The Ordóñez case adds up to that of the young Colombian Anderson Arboleda, attacked and beaten by police officers from the department of Cauca, after separating a neighbor’s fight.
Massacre in Venezuela
Venezuela does not escape from these arbitrariness and abuses of power. Every day there are complaints about what is known in Venezuela as the “matraqueo”, which is the request or demand for money that officials make to civilians to move freely in their vehicles across the country. It happens to intimidate them or when they have committed an infraction, because that way they are left without police registration and they do not receive fines or their car is not towed away.
But there are also serious cases of police abuse, such as the El Limón massacre in La Guaira state (north-central) and the execution of two journalists in Zulia state (west).
On the massacre of “El Limón”, the attorney general, Tarek William Saab, reported that it occurred on June 11 on the old Caracas-La Guaira highway. There, five people were riddled with bullets by active officers of the Police Special Actions Forces (FAES).
The prosecutor said that according to the investigation, it was determined that in the early morning hours the FAES officials violently entered the homes of five citizens while they were sleeping.
“Later, they were taken out onto the street and taken to a wooded area of the neighborhood where they were allegedly executed. This was observed by several neighbors in the community”, Saab explained.
Another regrettable case was the murder of two community communicators in Cabimas, also by FAES officials last August.
Saab said that after the first investigations it was determined that Andrés Eloy Zacarías Nieves and Víctor Manuel Torres “could have been victims of extrajudicial executions”, for which five officials of the FAES were held responsible and they were already in custody.
Two of them were accused for homicide classified as treachery, improper use of an organic weapon, simulation of a punishable act, and violation of domicile by a public official. Two others were charged as “accomplices in the crime of homicide qualified with treachery and association”.
The prosecutor also detailed that after the tests were carried out and with the autopsy protocols, it was known that the murdered were in a lower state than their shooters, on their knees or sitting, for which it is confirmed that they were executed. Both were shot from a few meters away.
You also can read…
“Rage”: Watergate Case reporter blames Trump for purposely killing 200,000 Americans
The presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, emphasized that “while a deadly disease swept through…