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Cablegate: Sao Paulo Contacts Raise Concerns Regarding Rising Hate

VZCZCXRO8124
PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #1002/01 3551552
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211552Z DEC 07
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7774
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8917
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3242
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2996
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 2556
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 3643
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0639
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2253
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3934
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8504
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAO PAULO 001002

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA AND DRL
NSC FOR TOMASULO
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID FOR LAC/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI SCUL KDEM KCRM BR
SUBJECT: SAO PAULO CONTACTS RAISE CONCERNS REGARDING RISING HATE
CRIMES

REF: SAO PAULO 895

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Brazil's image of a racially and culturally harmonious
country contrasts with the reality that deeply-held prejudices and
stereotypes are contributing to a rise in hate crimes. Contacts
tell us that while a national movement has not yet taken root,
skinhead gangs and racist websites are causing increased concern
among the Afro-Brazilian and Jewish communities, the two principal
target groups. End Summary.

Racial Crimes
-------------

2. (SBU) With a mixed population of African slave descendants,
European (particularly Italian, Portuguese, German and Polish)
settlers, Japanese immigrants as well as residents from a variety
of other countries, Brazil is a melting pot of races and cultures.
As the public debates affirmative action programs and quota
initiatives, some white youth feel like they will lose their
privileged position in society, according to Margarette Barreto,
Chief of the Civil Police's Racial Crimes and Acts of Intolerance
Unit. This attitude is bringing new life to racist views with a
corollary rise in violence, she said. According to Marco Antonio
Zito Alvarenga, President of the Sao Paulo Bar Association's
(OAB-SP) Antidiscrimination Committee, his organization receives 4-5
accusations of hate crimes per month, and it appears that the number
of accusations is increasing. The types of racially motivated
crimes include workplace discrimination, accusations against police
treatment based on race, and racism in the classroom. Alvarenga
added that the number of cases -almost all the ones the OAB-SP
receives are against Afro-Brazilians - reflect a small amount of the
actual crimes committed because the Bar Association is only one
group working against discrimination. He emphasized that racism is
institutionalized in Brazil and unlikely to disappear.

3. (SBU) In the State of Sao Paulo, crimes committed against
Afro-Brazilians represent the greatest proportion of hate crimes,
but Japanese-Brazilians are sometimes victims as well, Chief Barreto
noted. Barreto said that violence against Japanese-Brazilians
occurs particularly in the city of Sao Paulo and its surroundings,
which claim a population of several million people of Japanese
descent. She cited as an example a recent case in which a
Japanese-Brazilian youth was brutally attacked and had Nazi symbols
etched into his arms.

Neo-Nazism on the Rise
----------------------

4. (SBU) Chief Barreto said that she is increasingly concerned with
the fact that the neo-Nazi movement, which rages not only against
Afro-Brazilians but also targets homosexuals, immigrants and Jewish
Brazilians, is gaining in strength. Neo-Nazis are improving their
organizational skills and communication between members through
popular websites, especially those that target the young.
University of Sao Paulo Professor Maria Luiza Tucci Carneiro, who
has extensively studied racism and anti-Semitism in Brazil, added
that young members join skinhead gangs because they want to feel a
sense of "belonging." These youth, who often come from troubled
homes and do not have access to education, jobs or extracurricular
activities are drawn to groups who advertise raves and parties and
offer a sense of "brotherhood." As in other countries, Chief Barreto
indicated that neo-Nazis in Brazil also aim to recruit among the
poor and disenfranchised, and they are also succeeding in increasing
their ranks by appealing to lower-middle class youth as well.
Barreto added that her team is having difficulty monitoring all of
the local neo-Nazi blogs and web pages because their number is
rising at such a fast rate.

5. (SBU) According to Barreto, recent growth in the number of
neo-Nazi gangs and websites came unexpectedly because Brazil has

SAO PAULO 00001002 002 OF 003


such a culturally and racially mixed society, without the "pure
white" element theorized by racists in other countries. She
explained that as President Lula's Workers' Party (PT) began a
string of electoral successes and the PT's leftist oratory gained
greater media attention, rightist elements began to stir. Although
hate crimes occur all over Brazil, they are more frequent in the
south, which is known in Brazil as the "German region" because of
the large population of German descendants who live there. Barreto
believes neo-Nazis are getting financial support from outside of
Brazil, and indicated that her unit has found strong ties between
domestic groups and skinheads in Argentina and Italy. Professor
Carneiro agreed that neo-Nazi support is coming from Argentina and
added that groups in Mexico and especially the United States and
Germany provide paper material, videos and DVDs to organizations in
Brazil.

Anti-Semitic Crimes
-------------------

6. (SBU) Barreto said that part of the reason Sao Paulo has escaped
from major attacks against Jewish institutions like those that
occurred in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994 is because of the Jewish
community's organization and security apparatus, including good
relations with the state's public security system. Prosecutor
Alvarenga repeated this view and added that the Jewish community
sues in court directly rather than refer cases to the Bar. Barreto
described a case in which Molotov cocktails were thrown at a
synagogue in the city of Campinas in August 2006 as the only
significant act in recent years. Even this attack was relatively
minor, considering that damage was minimal and no one died, she
said. She warned that the recent attack on the Campinas synagogue
and the growth in websites is only the beginning of what will likely
be continued expansion in anti-Semitic activities. She linked this
growth to part of the rising trend in "international intolerance"
and to events in the Middle East.

7. (SBU) State of Sao Paulo Jewish Federation Director of Security
Andre Grunebaum (please protect) repeated Barreto's claim that
skinhead gangs and anti-Semitic websites are growing but emphasized
there does not appear to be an organized anti-Jewish movement in
Brazil, at least not yet. He stated that the Jewish community is
certain that attacks against Jewish institutions will increase and
that the Buenos Aires incidents were indicators of the type of
horrors that could occur in Brazil as well.

Statistics on Hate Crimes
-------------------------

8. (SBU) According to Tulio Kahn, Coordinator at the Sao Paulo
State Secretariat for Public Security Coordinating Body for Analysis
and Planning, the incidence of hate crimes committed in Sao Paulo
remains relatively steady. Kahn presented figures showing that
victims reported 52 hate crimes in the city of Sao Paulo in 2006 and
39 in the first 10 months of 2007 and that the city of Sao Paulo has
had a total of 429 incidents reported to the police since 1999.
Kahn told us that these figures do not fully represent reality
because victims do not necessarily tell the police about such crimes
and the State of Sao Paulo is only beginning to collect all data
into one system. He also accused some law enforcement officials of
classifying many hate crimes as other infractions of the law such as
libel because they are easier to prosecute. In Kahn's assessment,
the numbers do not accurately reflect that hate crimes are, in fact,
growing.

Courts and Police Present Challenges
------------------------------------

9. (SBU) Prosecutor Alvarenga said that one of the reasons fighting
racism is difficult is due to the character of the judicial system
and law enforcement community. He noted that among senior-level
judges in the State of Sao Paulo, only one is black and that
discrimination is widespread throughout the police force. Police
are much more likely to stop and question a black rather than a
white Brazilian, he stated. He added that despite the fact that
Brazilian law defines racism as a crime, proving an incident as

SAO PAULO 00001002 003 OF 003


having involved racism is very challenging. The courts are also
less than willing to accept and prosecute discrimination cases.

10. (SBU) In a recent forum on Afro-Brazilian issues, Sao Paulo
State Secretary for Public Security Ronaldo Marzagao stated that the
police are making great efforts to combat crime while upholding
human rights. He noted that these efforts include respect for all
Brazilians regardless of race or cultural background. Responding to
Secretary Marzagao, Chindalena Ferreira Barbosa, from the

SIPDIS
organization Political Articulation of Young Blacks, said that the
police in fact support a "systematic genocide" against poor
Afro-Brazilian youth. (Note: This is particularly strong language
to use but reflects how heated the debate on hate issues is in Sao
Paulo. End Note.) According to Barbosa, police officers are much
more likely to "shoot first and ask questions later" in situations
that law enforcement officials assume are crimes and in cases in
which before assessing the situation, a police officer has already
determined that the Afro-Brazilian at the crime scene is the
perpetrator of the crime. (Note: A Federal University of Rio de
Janeiro (UFRJ) study on public security conducted between 1999 and
2005 found that Afro-Brazilians are much more likely to die of
violence than whites. The research, however, does not indicate what
proportion of death caused by violence is due to police shootings.
End Note.)

Comment
-------

11. (SBU) Brazil has always made a concerted effort to display its
racial and cultural harmony as the country's greatest national
achievement. This endeavor overlooks a long history of crimes
committed against individuals based on their skin color or religious
affiliation. What is most troubling, however, is that contacts
across the spectrum believe Brazil is only at the beginning stages
of a growing problem. End Comment.

12. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia.

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