Monday, 23 January 2012

Massacre in Pinheirinho - photos and video of a tragedy (by @Tsavkko)

By Raphael Tsavkko Garcia (@Tsavkko) and originally posted on the Blog do Tsavkko at

All translation courtesy of @alxgucci.

Greeting/Welcome Party
Those close to me know that it is difficult for me to begin writing this text.  The criminal and absurd invasion tagged as an "expropriation", was a clear "tucanagem" (pejorative slang for the tucano, symbol of the PSDB) of the term "massacre". It was also described by the OAB (Order of Brazilian Lawyers) as illegal. The barbarism which I witnessed (and almost fell victim to) left me speechless.

I admit to crying while writing this post and watching the videos that were taped. I cried alone, looking at the computer and thinking that I had a house and a computer to write these words. I thought of those people who were treated worse than dogs. I thought about how they did not know where they would be sleeping tomorrow and how desperate they must have felt.

I cried while thinking that I could have died from the rubber bullet that a PM (military police) shot in my direction; it barely scrapped my scalp. I cried for the pain felt in Pinheirinho; for those who stayed and resisted and for the destruction of their lives by the fascist state and municipal government of the PSDB of Governor Alckmin and Mayor of São José dos Campos Eduardo Cury with silence and connivance of the Federal government led by President Dilma Rousseff.

Main street where the 'clashes' occurred
Several tear-eyed residents in despair were wondering (and even asking me) where was Dilma and where were the human rights observers. It is pure irony that the hope that the PT (Labor Party) breathed into this people was crushed yesterday when they affirmed that former President Lula would never have allowed this to happen. In my humble opinion, I do not know if Lula, Dilma or the PT abandoned them. What I do know is that the PSDB massacred them and that they need solidarity, help, compassion and a new life.

At the moment I don't care if the action was legal or if there was a conflict in the judicial system or if the devil himself participated in this. What matters is that those people survived a hell in which their rights were violated so that a wealthy corrupt businessman (Naji Nahas) gained back the land which the people had occupied.

The media, subservient to the interests of the mighty ones, always treated the poor residents of Pinheirinho like bandits. Their houses were reduced to crack dens. Their children were guns to defend themselves with and their despair was weapons.  Albeit, their rage was the stones in their hands. Stones against men armed with bullets, bombs, pistols and nightsticks. And the PM's greatest weapons was their desire to employ their corporate violence against helpless people.

Reconstruction attempt of the concentration camp gate by the GCM. In the foreground, a supermarket cart filled with someone's belongings

I headed out to #Pinheirinho with @mairakubik and  @felipedjeguaka, @mariana_parra and Paty of Sao Paulo. We went to see with our own eyes what uniformed delinquents are capable of doing under the command of a criminal of the Opus Dei.

We arrived in the city at about 15:30 and the climate was tense. In the avenue that connects Pinheirio and Campo dos Alemães, a nearby district that protested against the brutish actions of the Military Police and of the local Civil Municipal Guard (which, as a matter of fact, was much more violent and unprepared than the actions carried out by the Military Police). Already a burnt car was there to greet newcomers. Three more burnt cars down the path, including  the van of the TV Vanguard (an affiliate of Rede Globo, the biggest network of Brazil). Their reporters did not for a minute leave the protection of the Riot Control Battalion for fear of being lynched.

We begin to record and talk with people in order to understand what had happened and what was lying ahead of us. We tried to gather information on the reported deaths. Some said there were three, others seven and some said a pregnant woman had died. Several blood-covered and unawake people were taken to the hospitals, but we could not confirm if they had survived the injuries or not. At the end of the day, with bombs blowing up around us, there were accounts that a three-year-old child had died from the effect of tear gas. But we could not confirm any of this.

GCM defending the perimeter of the concentration camp
The setting of all this was as follows: Modest houses on one side and a open field with an enormous tent roof on the other. This tent area was to be used to register families,  provide them with shelter, and, finally, promote via the media, the appearance that the Mayor was taking care of the people of Pinheirinho and that they would be safe during the eviction. In reality, however, it was a plain white canvas tent which was hot, had no lights and had scarce seating for the resigned elderly awaiting their destiny; a place where women and children cried while trying to take cover from the barbarism across the street. 
Any comparisons with Nazi camps are not by chance/coincidence: Closed in a barred place and with precarious tents and with enormous supervision inside and out, the families were receiving blue bracelets to be identified and aside from not being able to go out of this area, they still had to suffer abuse. 

In the middle of  all this there is a street more or less wide with  barricades made from sticks and in the end, the isolation cordon of the Riot Control Police and Pinheirinho being evacuated.  Soon enough, the tractor came in and started to demolish (18:30).

GCM and ROCAM on the other side of the concentration camp
The only access to the tents was through a small entrance controlled by roughnecked civil guards who reluctantly (and disdainfully) permitted our visit. The area was totally enclosed and worked like a prison. One couldn't go out once inside. It was no surprise that after being registered, some of the Pinheirinho residents rebelled and, at the cost of several injuries, took down a section of the gate which enclosed them. Two other sections of the gate were knocked down during the day, followed by celebrations and lot's of gas bombs and rubber bullets. One man from the MTST (Movement of the Workers and Workers Without Land), Guilherme Boulos, was taken to the hospital. The Civil Municipal Guard (GCM) even used live bullets and shot at women and children. Thankfully, their bullets missed their intended targets.

Videos 4 and 11 at the end of the post contain the images from two different angles of the lynching and arresting of Guilherme Boulos.

The GCM was responsible for the perimeter and it used extreme violence to contain the revolt of the residents who wanted to escape from that illegal prison. The PM provided support and would charge the area while distributing bombs throughout the day. The despair of the children and of the mothers was heartbreaking especially because there was nowhere to run to. The PM and the GCM were invading the great white canvas tent going after the "vandals" and fired bombs and shots all around.

Behind Pinheirinho
In a rare moment of calm, we walked towards command headquarters. We were received by Captain Antero who, after speaking a bunch of B.S., permitted us to get closer to Pinheirinho and record the distressed people being escorted out with few if any of their belongings.

Not very much later, a tractor began to demolish the most poor shacks at the edge of the community under the allegation that these had nothing of value inside and that better houses would be demolished only after the furniture was removed and etc. For those who have almost nothing, that shanty dirty place that looks like a home is a home. It's the place where a worker can go to and feel safe after a long and hard day of labor. But they were brought crashing down.

Unsurprisingly, residents of the area began to approach and protest. Some threw rocks at the PM, which responded "in kind", clearing the streets with bombs and bullets. At one moment they threw bombs inside the tents where the women with children were located. It was the moment of greatest panic and despair. It was also in this moment where the rumor spread that a three year old child died.

The first houses to be demolished
On one side the PM threw bombs. On the other the ROCAM (Motorcycle Support of Ostensive Rounds, a sub unit of ROTA) guaranteed no one could flee. In the middle, registered detainees from Pinheirinho kettled in by the 'non-lethal" gas bombs. While the GCM kept on 'securing' the perimeter and on shooting at boys that were throwing stones in despair for their mothers, who were hemmed in.

This was a true scene of war which contrasts with the affirmation of the Captain Antero that everything was being prepared since October; that everything would be peaceful, without violence and that the PM would not enter the areas of the tents which were under the responsibility (sic) of the GCM and that, logically, was a place for families to rest and feel safe. Oh, the irony of it all..

But the delinquents in uniform gave their show and kept on massacring. The barbarism lasted one half hour up to which the things were calmed. When it began to grow dark, unfortunately, we were forced to return to São Paulo. Without battery, disheveled and tired, we headed to the comfort of our homes without knowing how to pass the night. On our way back, by way of the Highway Dutra, half a dozen cars of the ROTA (Tobias de Aguiar's Ostensive Rounds; the special force of the São Paulo military police, which aims flexibility and fast reaction) blazed by us sending chills down our spines and making us fear for the worst.

PM without identification (something very common in those parts)

We captured testimonies, photographed and filmed the barbarism of this day. We plan on posting this media in various mediums and forums such as youtube, blogs, magazines, etc. We are also thinking of preparing a more extensive multimedia report about the frightening day that the people of Pinheirinho survived through.
I talked with the Councilman Tonhão, of the PT, who was red-eyed and impotent (and in despair for being so). I spotted Congressman Gianazzi (PSOL) and knew that Councilman Marrom (PSTU) was also there, among Ivan Valente (PSOL) and of Paulo Teixeira (PT).  

All were impotent before the barbarism perpetrated by the PSDB with total silence of the Federal Government.

Internal part of one of the biggest tents of the concentration camp. (foto: Mariana Parra)
With total certainty that I forgot many details, many stories, I admit to have reached my limit of hatred in front of such an absurd situation all the while tears fall in front of my utter sense of impotence. As a matter of fact, I imagine that because this post contains criticism to the federal government (and they were not as hard as they should been) I will not be reproducing it in any famous blog. But it does not matter. May the fanatic, subservient, and weak-minded political party supporters sleep with a heavy conscience.  I did what I could.

Some more photos: 

Small weapon of the GCM. (Looks like he's gonna shoot it at bandits; not families.)
Carro pronto para a mudança forçada (foto de Mariana Parra)
Car ready to forcibly leave Pinheirinho (foto: Mariana Parra)
The overall mood of the population (foto: Mariana Parra)
Turning off the energy of Pinheirinho
PM walking towards Pinheirinho
Burned down van next to concentration camp (foto: Mariana Parra)
Another van.
Population gathers around van filled with bread (foto: Mariana Parra)
Population entering concentration camp to be "registered".

And the videos:

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