Two stories of murder – 1895

Below, are two stories of murder in the year 1895, both captured in print by Brazilian newspaper O Paiz, as well as the American-owned paper The Rio News. Unfortunately, both papers, as well as many others of the time, surely, had sizeable sections dedicated to murder and misfortune. I feel like an entire blog could be dedicated to the types of strange and sordid stories one could find perusing these sections. Some of the mysteries within them are personal – such as why three friends having a drink would end in a blood bath – while others are institutional – such as why dotting i’s and t’s on police forms were more important than medical emergencies.

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From O Paiz, dated February 18th, 1895:

“There were three friends, Americans Happ Bell, Samuel Cleary and John Kelley, the day before yesterday, togtether at a dingy bar on Rua da Saúde, sitting around a table, chatting loudly, all laughing and constantly drinking.

What happened, witnesses don’t know how to explain other than there was a large altercation, in which Happ Bell, armed with a knife, lunged towards his two companions. There was a quick and terrible fight, among the strong and agile aggressor, and those assaulted.

Samuel Cleary fell dead and soon after John Kelley received a serious injury. He was taken to the Misercórdia hospital and the body of Samuel Cleary transported to the morgue and autopsied by Dr. Thomaz Coelho.

The criminal was arrested and presented to the police chief at the 3rd precinct.”

From The Rio News, same date,

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What was three Americans becomes three foreigners from different countries. Even “Happ Bill” becomes “Happy Bill”. In both reports, John Kelley was sent to the hospital to get medical attention. It’s not mentioned if this was immediately following the attack or – as will be stated at the end of the second story – only after the police were able to take statements.


In this second story, it is again discovered that both papers gave slightly different reports, each with their own added details.

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From O Paiz:

“The day before yesterday, at Building 22, on Rua da Conceição, Sampaio train station, the Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil security guard Benedicto Jorge da Costa – seriously injured with a knife in the abdomen – was interrogated by the police chief of the 16th precinct.

The victim stated, at great cost, that on the day prior six men had attacked him on Morro do Pinto, and then evaded him. Benedicto perhaps did not finish his statement, having passed away in the presence of the authority, who had the body removed to the morgue.”

From The Rio News:

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Here, it is discovered that there used to be a “police regulation which forbids relief until a police official has taken his notes”, causing the victim to die. I employed a few different tricks up my sleeve to dig up more information on this regulation but I fear they fell short.

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Origins of the Animal Game

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I translated pieces of an article from 1963 and posted them below. You’ll read about how the animal game was played in Cambodia, how different variations of the game pre-existed the one we all know (including the more prominent flower game), and that Brazilians have a Mexican to thank for the continuation and proliferation of the game in Rio.

______

Jornal do Brasil
12/13/1963

Despite a law to the contrary, the animal game is considered one of the most serious institutions in Brazil. And every afternoon, from one end of the country to the other, Brazilians ask themselves: “What animal did you get?” The animal game only exists in Brazil and in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The animal game started to be played in Brazil and only a few years later it was introduced in Phnom Penh. Senator Érico Coelho (depicted), who in 1915 proposed to congress the legalization of the animal game throughout the country – which occurred for the first time – justified his bill with the fact that it was an eminently Brazilian game, warning that it would be easier pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to make people stop gambling on the camel.

Before the animal game appeared in Brazil, there existed, with the same characteristics, the game of flowers, fruits, birds and numbers. Before the advent of the animal game, the numbers game was very popular in Espírito Santo. The flower game, however, was the one that had the most fans throughout the whole country. As in the current animal game, the other games consisted of 25 numbers, a fact for which no one has yet found an explanation. […] A Mexican, by the name of Manoel Ismael Zevada, was the biggest financier of the flower game in Rio. His bank was on Rua do Ouvidor, according to the chroniclers of Old Rio.

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(Almanak Laemmert: Administrativo, Mercantil e Industrial do Rio de Janeiro, 1900)

This is where the Barão de Drummond comes into play. João Batista Viana Drummond, a friend of Dom Pedro II, from Minas Gerais, would address Princess Isabel as “my angel” and, in her honor, named the farm on his property after her. It would become Vila Isabel – on the former Fazenda do Macaco, where he founded a zoo (on the slope of the Serra do Engenho Novo), which was the first that Rio had. […] Because he was one of the monarchists who supported Marechal Deodoro da Fonseca, Barão de Drummond fell into disgrace with Marechal Floriano Peixoto, who cut the annual sum that the Federal Government gave for the maintenance of his Zoo by 10 contos de réis. That was in 1892.

The Mexican, Zevada, knowing that Barão de Drummond was going to close the Zoo, due to a lack of financing, proposed the animal game – just as he did on Rua do Ouvidor – in order to keep it going.

Quickly, the animal game dominated the city and the zoo was no longer big enough for the visitors, who went to Vila Isabel to gamble more than they went there to see the animals in the zoo.

In less than a year there wasn’t a corner in Rio without an animal game, which alarmed the police, who prohibited it at the zoo. Already rooted in the habits of the carioca, it began to be played out of sight…

Source (pdf, PT)

The Pig’s Head – 1924

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Note: The following article from 1924 which I translated is about the tearing down of tenement housing in downtown Rio. It was said to take the homes of anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 people, who would go on to join the founding residents of Rio’s first favela. The demolition of Cabeça de Porco would also foreshadow the events a decade in the future, such as the Bota-Abaixo, as well as the city’s messy growth in the 20th century. The cartoon above shows a crying pig with a “barata” on it, referencing the then-mayor whose last name means cockroach.  

The Pig’s Head
by Hermeto Lima
Revista da Semana, 1924 [PT]

Imbedded on Rua Barão de S. Felix, up against the Cajueiros quarry, until 1893 there were cortiços (tenement houses), the last of their kind, refuge of capoeiras (hooligan ex-slaves) and murderers of all nationalities. It was the “Pig’s Head”.

A gate or, rather, an immense arch gave access to a large pigpen. From day to day it was dangerous to enter; in the darkness of the night no one dared to do so.

Along the way, hundreds of cottages lined up; rooms that were contaminated, impossible to count their number, would be open coffins, piled up on top of each other and with people inside. Along with all this, were an infinity of buildings, thrown together, with pine board walls and tin sheet roofs. Big stones on them, to keep them there and prevent the wind from carrying them off.

In front of these buildings, a non-paved street. Impossible to cross it from end to end, with such obstacles therein. Here were the tubs of laundry women; there were slings of clothes; a multitude of bamboo everywhere, with enormous twines, where shirts of all kinds and tendrils flutter. Hungry chickens cackle for a grain of corn; stray dogs full of leprosy fight for a crust; trapped enchained parrots scream and, with their paws or their beaks, seek to tear off the parasites that devour their skin; little birds of all species, beset, sprinkle themselves in the mud of their old cages; silent cats, spy frightenly through the cracks between piles of coffins and garbage cans of all kinds. A monkey with skirts, property of an Italian, a mouth-organ player, in an eternal sway, squeaks, showing its teeth. The man with a bear, makes him dance to the sound of a tambourine, whose primitive color no one even knows. A black sorcerer, from Benguela (south of Luanda), with a snake coiled around his neck, jumps and sings to the sound of a maraca.

It’s ten o’clock. The “Pig’s Head” is in its full swing. At first glance, it seems that only women work there, because a swarm of them, of all colors and nationalities – predominantly Italian, Spanish and Portuguese – is seen in a deafening “fervet opus”.

Some wash, others iron, still others in improvised kitchens, stir pots, placed on bricks and not falling only by a whim of the laws of balance.

Almost all of them sing more or less obscene songs. Some babble with the others or scold their children, who whimper there close-by.

The men, very few, work in the shoe repair shops, of which there are ten. From time to time, from one of those dens, emerges a mulatto with a pair of trousers, a belt, and a jersey, known among the hooligans, stretching and opening his huge mouth. Having just woke up.

On one side of the street is a barber shop. The owner, a giant black man who is said to be a deserter from the navy, shaves the customer’s face while telling a group about his exploits.

In front of the barber shop, a cellar draws the attention of those who go to the “Pig’s Head”. An old black man is seated at the door, which he closes as soon as someone enters or leaves. And his work must be painful, because it is a constant come-and-go of people who seem endless.

That’s where “monte” (game of luck) is played.

Naked children of all ages are everywhere; some roll around, crawling through the mud on the street; others, with their bare chest, whimper, confusing the mucus of the nostrils with the saliva and the tears they shed.

Girls, ages 12 and 13, wearing rags, carry other children in their arms or pull them along by the arm, so that they walk fast.

Boys aged 12 to 14, in groups, plan robberies, practice immoralities or tell tales, in a language capable of making a monk blush.

A den of famous criminals, when one fights there, there is no police that dare to haul him away from there.

Armed robberies or assaults are planned right there, in the open, without fear of denunciation.

Suddenly, a ghastly commotion.

There are two black women who wrestle because one wants to take the lover of another, or because she invaded the tub of the other one.

And people join in; and sides are formed, to see which of the two is the bravest. Screams, voices, trills of whistles that reach the street and the ears of the police. But they shrug and says,

“Well, it’s in the Pig’s Head.”

At other times, it is not women who fight. It is men, and then the story takes another shape. There is a hideous shooting, which, once it is over, it is not uncommon to find 2 or 3 corpses lying on the ground.

And then the news runs: – It was “Caboclo” that killed “Barba de bode”. The others had nothing to do with the fight. They were passing by at the time of the shooting.

And thus was life in the “Pig’s Head”, where about two thousand people lived.

In the monarchical regime, it was said that several authorities tried more than once to do away with this tenement, but soon higher orders appeared that neutralized that intention.

In vain, the press complained against that Babylon without assurances and without hygiene and whose property was of many, each one even more prestigious in the political world.

The Republic was made. On December 20, 1892, Mayor Dr. Candido Barata Ribeiro was appointed. One of his first acts was to do away with the “Pig’s Head” however possible.

At 8 o’clock on the morning of January 26, 1893, an infantry force of the police, commanded by Captain Marcellino and another of cavalry, were marching to Rua João Ricardo. A crowd of firefighters and about 300 workers from the Inspectorate of Public Works, the Chief of Police, Dr. Bernardino Fereira da Silva, the Mayor, Dr. Barata Ribeiro, Dr. Corrêa Dutra, second auxiliary delegate, and other authorities followed.

No one knew what that apparatus meant.

Having arriving in front of the “Pig’s Head”, it was like the barbarians entering Rome.

The infamous tenement was invaded and 300 workers with pickaxes in hand began their destructive work. When the dust from the walls was too much, the Fire Department would come to the rescue to complete the task.

The threats of the troublemakers and the lamentations of the women were worthless. Within a few hours, the “Pig’s Head” that had lasted for 53 years was reduced to a heap of debris.

Only then could one see well the many alleys, the nooks, the stores, and the corridors in which it was subdivided.

After a few months, its owners filed a lawsuit claiming compensation for damages and lost profits.

The action was evaluated at five thousand contos that the City had to pay, without a word nor a peep.

That was how much the “Pig’s Head” cost.

But it came down.

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(about 30 years after it came down)

Services place their trust in Cariocas

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Data shows that honesty is still growing among cariocas

In gloomy times, plagued by corruption and serial political scandals, honesty, so discredited, endures in the day to day of the city. Contrary to even the non-believers, it’s possible to see evidence everywhere that having a good character is on the up and up. From services such as the VLT, which did away with the fare collector and depends on the awareness of the users, the newly established self-service registers in department stores, always with dilettante customers making the payment, Rio is still able to teach lessons of citizenship.

With the modern streetcar, the evasion rate – that is, of passengers who get on and off without paying, ignoring the rules of civility – doesn’t hit 10%, according to the concessionaire responsible for transportation, going against all expectations that vandalism and slyness would prevail. With the establishment of cash registers operated by customers, almost nobody leaves without paying, to the surprise of those who didn’t believe that it’s possible to adopt here a common system of the world’s great metropolises.

In 2015, when it was announced that VLT passengers would be responsible for paying fares upon entering the vehicle, the news was practically treated as a joke. But, after two years, the fact is that 90% of the passengers behave as they do what’s customary, religiously paying the R$3.80 fare. The percentage is even higher than what’s been registered in European cities, according to the consortium that operates the streetcar that already cuts across the center of Rio. The VLT’s honesty “inspectors”, who do random checks, attest that it’s rare to catch a bad payer in the act.

The most common thing, they argue, is to watch passengers, as they embark, go straight with their RioCards towards the fare validators. Inspector Bruno Teixeira Campo says that, by day, he sends at most one passenger to the police to be fined for evasion. He also says it’s normal for savvy users to alert others who use VLT sporadically on how to validate tickets on the machine. And those who fall into the fine mesh of inspection usually get embarrassed and make feeble excuses.

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“Those in a hurry claim that they forgot to validate the card, that they didn’t know they had to have a ticket when they boarded or that they saw the VLT at the stop and, in a hurry, they got on without reloading the RioCard. There are also those who talk on the cell phone and say they were distracted. But in general, as a Carioca, he is proud to see that almost everyone does the right thing,” Bruno observes.

VLT Director of Operations Paulo Ferreira says that, even on European systems, the evasion rate can surpass 40%. In the VLT contract, a 30% rate was forecast. But the rate never got so high. At the start of the operation, it was close to 15%. And, since then, it’s just been falling. This can be understood from the convergence of data from the validation machines and the passenger counts done by cameras installed at the vehicle doors.

“But it’s still not possible to remove the inspectors from the operation”, says Ferreira, without ruling out the possibility of an even more civilized future, with total mutual trust between the operator and passengers.

The anthropologist Alba Zaluar says that the phenomenon doesn’t surprise her, despite the whole reality of corruption that haunts Brazil. She calls attention to what she considers discrimination against Cariocas, said to be mischievous. She says that, despite this collective value judgment, very few people try to take advantage of everything.

“The population is very outraged. I see people proud to differentiate themselves from those who are robbing the country, to say that they work and live honestly, without deceiving anyone. Even because trust is the basis of all the movements of society – analyzes the scholar.

From September 5 to September 30 2016, the police counted 8,970 fines imposed on passengers for non-payment of the VLT fare. February had the highest number of infractions: 950 people. Last September, there was a sharp drop: 521 fines.

New Relations in Commerce

Another service that depends on the goodwill of customers is Bike Rio, which, since 2011, has trusted that rented bikes, after being ridden, will be returned by cyclists. And that is how it has been, nearly all the time. At Rio International Airport, terminal parking managers say that 90% of drivers respect exclusive vacancies for seniors, people with special needs and pregnant women.

In addition, throughout Brazil, public and private libraries are already implementing book-lending systems, in which interested parties lend and return publications on machines with barcode readers. In commerce, establishments began to provide self-service registers, in which customers themselves register their goods and make payment, without any inspection, as it has been for some time in stores in Europe. The system was adopted in some supermarkets in the Zona Sul and, since the beginning of the year, in five Lojas Americanas in Rio and São Paulo. “The solution is practical and allows the customer to carry out the entire purchase process alone. The implementation of this technology contributes to the operational performance of the stores, boosting sales, especially in times of high traffic. In a short time of operation, the self-checkout has been very receptive and represents a relevant portion of store transactions,” says Lojas Americanas.

At the end of last month, a GLOBO team tested one of these terminals at the Shopping RioSul location. People were still staring at the machines, half-disbelieving, and suspicious. I had to line up for the traditional cash registers, but there was no one using self-service. It was enough for the reporter to start paying for his purchases, for two other customers to notice the novelty and to encourage them to use it. Even smaller stores are venturing out. And it’s not just now. In Botafogo, it has been even longer, decades, that a restaurant has no one mediating payments made by customers. The owner of the establishment prefers not to disclose the address, claiming that he chose the method by having a captive clientele. He admits, however, that widespread publicity could jeopardize a model that, without marketing, is working.

“What we do goes against the madness we’ve seen in this country,” the businessman acknowledges.

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Nearby, at UniRio, in Urca, the students are trying out an initiative that has earned the nickname “the little wall of honesty“. In a garden at the Arts and Literature Center, students leave products for sale and go to class. The offer goes from snacks and cakes to sweets and fruit. But no one is watching what happens. If someone is interested in buying, they choose what they want and leave the money. There are reports of stealing, but most behave well. Those unusual cases forced the group to make adaptations, such as creating makeshift coffers where customers deposit notes and coins to prevent any thefts.

“I’ve seen people put paper in place of money. But it’s a minority. Most of it is honest, says Information Systems student Davi Coutinho.

Another university student and actor César Júnior is enthusiastic about the experience:

“The function of the university is also to provoke this reflection and stimulate awareness. Products have fair prices. And behind each of them, there is a job. The ‘little wall’ helps support many students, either to pay for the bus to come here or for class expenses.”

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Downtown, a formal business decided to change its relationship with customers. In the Curto Café, on Menezes Cortes, the prices of goods aren’t fixed, only suggested. And there isn’t a cash register controlling how much each person pays. It’s the customer who makes the payment and takes his change from a pot, on top of a counter. Asked if it’s successful, the entrepreneurs say the establishment has been operating for five years, and they serve 700 to 800 coffees a day. Some pay less than the indicated prices, others pay more. The average balances out the sales.

“I’m surprised at this place. I hope that this concept spreads,” said customer Sueli Afonso.

Source (PT)

Reage, Rio – 50 Proposals

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50 proposals made at ‘Reage, Rio!’ to turn things around

In two days of debates, “Reage, Rio!” outlines ways for the government to turn things around, finding a way to change the pattern of violence, resume the pace of economic growth, improve the circulation of people and ensure institutional transparency and efficiency. The five dozen concrete suggestions in the areas of security, urban mobility, economics, public policies (education and health), ethics and tourism were analyzed by a team of reporters, who’ve suggested what needs to be done to get them off the drawing board and actually implemented. In the proposals [link at the bottom], the reader can find links with the respective reports or videos of the seminar.

Some of the suggestions depend on the approval of constitutional amendments or ordinary laws; others, on public investment. There are still those that need isolated or joint actions from the federal, state and city governments.

O Globo and Extra will follow the progress of each idea presented by experts, businessmen and representatives of the public sector and civil society, and the result of this verification will be published in both newspapers.

[DR Note: to save you time, note that the Implementation plan that follows each Proposal is usually some variation of, “it depends on the government”, which speaks for itself. The breakdown below is as follows: 1 – 10 (Security), 11 – 20 (Economy), 21 – 27 (Tourism), 28 – 33 (Urban Mobility), 34 – 39 (Public Policies), 40 – 50 (Ethics)]


SECURITY

Torquato Jardim, Minister of Justice:

1.

Proposal: Reaffirm the agreement with the government to safely fight crimes in general, with an emphasis on giving more room for municipal participation and re-equipping the Military Police.

Implementation: It depends on amending the Constitution to change competencies in the area of public security. There is a PEC [Stability & Growth Pact] regarding this in the House of Representatives.

2.

Proposal: Operational integration with technology (more drones, satellites and computers), starting at the border.

Implementation: It depends on planned investments in the Budget created by the federal government and approved by Congress.

3.

Proposal: Create a single system for public safety, in the mold of the SUS [Unified Health System], with a division of tasks and without .

Implementation: It depends on the approval of a Constitutional amendment or ordinary law in Congress.

4.

Proposal: Institutionalize the National Public Security Force.

Implementation: It depends on the approval of a Constitutional amendment in Congress. Until now at least two proposals haven’t gone forward.


Robson Rodrigues, Military Police Coronel & ex-UPP Coordinator:

5.

Proposal: Invest in intelligence to investigate drug trafficking, efficiency and creativity to recover and optimize resources, in addition to having priorities and an action plan.

Implementation: It depends on the actions of the federal and state governments, and on the reallocation of resources towards the intelligence sector.


Michele dos Ramos, from the Igarapé Institute:

6.

Proposal: Prioritize the prevention and investigation of life-threatening crimes, with strategies focused on groups, places and behaviors that are more vulnerable to violence. Prioritize evidence-based and results-oriented policies.

Implementation: State government action to prioritize the Civil Police investigation sector and prevention through the Military Police.

7.

Proposal: Qualified repression and modernization of criminal and penitentiary policy.

Implementation: Qualified repression depends on the intelligence sector. And the modernization of the criminal and penitentiary policy, on change in the National Plan of National and Penitentiary Policy, made by a council of the same name from the Ministry of Justice.

8.

Proposal: Discuss the problem of drug use as a public health issue, review drug policy and consolidate responsible regulation of weapons and ammunition.

Implementation: The decriminalization of drugs, or just marijuana, can be done by Congress or by the Federal Supreme Court. The consolidation of the regulation of arms, provided for in the Disarmament Statute, depends on Congress.

9.

Proposal: Disseminate data and information on public policies and programs that work.

Implementation: It depends on joint action between states and the federal government.


Hugo Acero, expert in security and sociology:

10.

Proposal: Increased cooperation among countries in the fight against major mafias, not only drug trafficking, but also trafficking of people, smuggling, the illegal arms trade and terrorism.

Implementation: Cooperation between countries may be promulgated by decree from the President of the Republic, after the policy is drafted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


ECONOMY

Mauro Osório, President of the Pereira Passos Institute:

11.

Proposal: Make a pension reform.

Implementation: There is already a proposal awaiting voting in the House. It is PEC 287/16. In May, the state also approved the 14% increase in social security contribution for public servants.

12.

Proposal: Increase revenue and discuss the collection of ICMS tax at the destination and the Kandir Law (which exempts taxes on exports).

Implementation: By decision of the STF, a commission in Congress is already discussing a change in the Kandir Law. A change in ICMS tax only on the destination of the product (especially oil) depends on the Union’s articulation with all 27 federative units.

13.

Proposal: Establish a policy for territorialized budgets.

Implementation: It depends on the planning of city hall and the approval of the budget law by the House.

14.

Proposal: Sanitize and clean Guanabara Bay.

Implementation: The proposal has been in place since 2012, but has not solved the problem and is threatened by the economic crisis. It’s the Environmental Sanitation Program of the Cities in the Area Around the Bay, created by CEDAE, which may be privatized.

15.

Proposal: Integrate the capital with the interior, and make the city of Rio de Janeiro into a regional economic hub.

Implementation: Integration depends on joint action by city halls and state government.


David Zylbersztajn, partner at DZ Negócios and ex-director of the National Agency of Petroleum (ANP)

16.

Proposal: Stimulate entrepreneurship and reduce bureaucracy.

Implementation: It depends on the action of the city and state power spheres. Since 2015, Rio’s city hall has the Rio + Fácil program, which reduces bureaucracy to open companies. The program can be extended.

17.

Proposal: Invest in a modern, post-oil, low-carbon economy, and in Rio’s vocations (tourism, hospitality, entertainment).

Implementation: The city already has incentive programs for the modern economy, such as RioCriativo and StartupRio. They could be expanded.

18.

Proposal: Create tourism incentive laws and a tourism training school in Rio de Janeiro.

Implementation: Laws to encourage tourism can be created by Alerj, the City Council, the Executive branch or as proposals from civil society. The creation of a tourism training school would also depend on municipal or state initiative, and could be done in partnership with the private sector.


Christino Áureo, State Secretary of the Civil Office and Economic Development:

19.

Proposal: Create a fiscal recovery plan, with impacts for the next six years, foreseeing a R$53.6 billion revenue increase and R$25 billion reduction in expenses, in addition to the suspension of the payment of public debt.

Implementation: The State of Rio and the Union have scheduled the approval of the State Tax Recovery Regime for this week. The state will also receive clearance to take out bank loans, which will allow, for example, the auction that will use Cedae shares as a guarantee. The state expects to obtain up to R$3.5 billion from the operation.

20.

Proposal: Review laws that only affect the State of Rio in relation to ICMS and environmental taxes, to ease investors’ minds and make the environment less adverse for those who invest in Rio.

Implementation: The change in the environmental licensing fee and ICMS may occur at the initiative of the state government. Changes in the rate of control and environmental inspection at the federal and state levels already go through the Legislature.


TOURISM

Roberto Medina, businessman and President of Rock in Rio:

21.

Proposal: Highlight R$200 million of the R$1.3 billion in federal government investment in events to privilege Rio and create the “Rio de Janeiro a Janeiro” calendar of events.

Implementation: The investment has already been announced by the Ministry of Culture. An Embratur ordinance, which will be published by Monday, will create a calendar of 150 cultural, sports and tourism events in the State of Rio, which should receive a contribution of R$200 million.

Bruno Marques, President of the Cataratas group, AquaRio:

22.

Proposal: Reform Rio Zoo to strengthen tourism.

Implementation: It’s already in progress. The city of Rio made a bid to cede the administration of Rio Zoo to the Cataratas Group, which is renovating the site for R$80 million.


Paulo Michel, Vice President of ABIH / RJ:

23.

Proposal: Treat tourism as an economic activity. Teach tourism while in school.

Implementation: It depends on change in the National Curriculum. There is a proposal drawn up by the Ministry of Education, which is in its third version, and citizens can suggest changes at public hearings.

24.

Proposal: Create experiences for tourists.

Implementation: At the city level, experiences in tourism compete with Riotur and the Secretary of Public Order (Seop), which grants a license for new events, registered in the Carioca Digital portal.

25.

Proposal: Bureaucratize the granting of licenses to attract new events.

Implementation: To de-bureaucratize bureaucracy, at the city level, has to be an initiative of the Municipal Secretariat of Public Order (Seop), responsible for granting permits.

26.

Proposal: To guarantee ostensible security in areas of touristic interest.

Implementation: There are already projects financed by Fecomércio, the state and city government, such as Operação Presente, which operates in Lapa, Lagoa, Méier, Aterro and Centro.

27.

Proposal: Establish more flexible rules for granting visas to foreign tourists and strengthen advertising abroad.

Implementation: They can be implemented by an interim measure, signed by the President, or by a change in the Migration Law.


URBAN MOBILITY

Guilherme Ramalho, President of Metrô:

28.

Proposal: Optimize the already-installed transport network, since there are bus lines overlapping with the BRT, train and subway.

Implementation: Joint action of the city halls in the Metropolitan Region of Rio and the State Secretary of Transportation.

29.

Proposal: Create a metropolitan authority to oversee and plan the transportation system as a whole.

Implementation: Approval of Bill No. 10, from 2015, which creates a metropolitan agency, being considered by Alerj.

30.

Proposal: Create sustainable financing solutions, such as urban tolls, to subsidize tariffs, and the expansion of public transportation.

Implementation: Integration between city, state and federal government, and bill approval at the city or state level.


Paulo Cezar Ribeiro, from Coppe/UFRJ:

31.

Proposal: Reorganize Rio’s urban transport before the economy resumes, to avoid bottlenecks in urban mobility. Improve the traffic light system and review the city’s horizontal and vertical signs.

Implementation: Actions by the city hall through the Company of Rio Traffic Engineering (CET-Rio).


Vicente Loureiro, Executive Director of Câmara Metropolitana:

32.

Proposal: Plan the physical and tariff-based integration of urban transport.

Implementation: Actions from the State Secretary of Transport, or through the Strategic Development Plan of the Rio Metropolitan Region which will be submitted to Alerj.

33.

Proposal: Stimulate regional economic growth to unlock the transport system. Establish policies of employment opportunities distributed by region.

Implementation: Approve the Strategic Development Plan of the Rio Metropolitan Region, which will be submitted to Alerj, and changes in the incentive law to strengthen the economy in strategic regions.


PUBLIC POLICIES

César Benjamin, City Secretary of Education:

34.

Proposal: Implement a combined process of qualitative and quantitative assessments in the city’s education network.

Implementation: It depends on a decree.

35.

Proposal: Eliminate functional illiteracy in the city network, starting in 2018, setting up a team of two thousand literacy teachers.

Implementation: Taking into account that city hall is prohibited by the Law of Fiscal Responsibility to promote entry exams or hire staff, the secretary will need to relocate teachers in the network.


Claudia Costin, expert in public administration and former City Secretary of Education:

36.

Proposal: Create alternatives so that students do not stop studying when their schools close because of violence. A plan “b” could come in the form of an activity book, which the student would take home.

Implementation: It depends on administrative action from the Education Department, which would prepare, print and distribute the notebooks.

37.

Proposal: Develop strategies to comply with the Incheon Declaration, of which Brazil is a signatory, which establishes, among other goals, ensuring inclusive, equitable and quality education, as well as promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Implementation: The City Department of Education already published, in the Official Gazette, a schedule and budget for its goals. The implementation of the projects, however, runs up against the city’s budget issues.


Vilma Guimarães, general manager of education at the Roberto Marinho Foundation:

38.

Proposal: Replicate positive experiences in the teaching network, universalizing practical units that were successful in certain schools.

Implementation: Detecting and replicating good practices in the network depends on administrative acts by the city and state education networks.


Márcio Maranhão, thoracic surgeon, health management expert and author of “Sob Pressão”:

39.

Proposal: Create a governance mechanism in the public health sector based on accountability, equity, sustainability and transparency.

Implementation: The National Audit Department exercises audit and specialized inspection activities within SUS. To change or create a new analytical tool in SUS, it would be necessary to approve a complementary law.


ETHICS

Eduardo Gussem, Rio’s Attorney General:

40.

Proposal: Create a committee with the presence of representatives of the Judiciary, Legislative and Executive, Public Prosecutor’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, state and city court, OAB, business, press and other sectors of civil society.

Implementation: It depends on the participation and interest of these sectors.


Felipe Saboya, Ethos Institute:

41.

Proposal: Make public purchases more transparent and with more modern control.

Implementation: Change the Bidding Law in Congress and provide for new control mechanisms.

42.

Proposal: Change the criteria for choosing members of audit courts to restrict the political influence of nominations.

Implementation: It depends on changing federal and state legislations, which adopt different criteria for electing members of these courts.

43.

Proposal: Make the city, state and federal budgets more transparent and with greater popular participation.

Implementation: It’s necessary to review budgetary elaboration processes in the three administrative spheres, modifying Executive and Legislative norms.

44.

Proposal: Hold more public hearings to consult the population before making decisions.

Implementation: Include a device, by constitutional amendment, that generalizes the obligation of public hearings, which today are restricted to some areas.

45.

Proposal: Summon the population more consistently to decide on issues through plebiscites and referendums.

Implementation: Change law 9.709, from 1998, to simplify the convocation of plebiscites and referendums and to increase the possibilities of convocation.

46.

Proposal: Include a “compliance” clause in contracts between companies and public authorities.

Implementation: Change the Bidding Law to include the requirement for public contracting. Government authorities could also adopt this practice by signing contracts.

47.

Proposal: Implement a political reform to ensure greater participation of women and cheapen the cost of election campaigns.

Implementation: Requires constitutional amendment to create a female quota. To lessen the cost of campaigns, Congress must change the law governing the operation of campaigning.


Fernando Gabeira, journalist and former Congressman:

48.

Proposal: Make public contracting through insurers, which could make construction less susceptible to corruption and delays.

Implementation: The House is already negotiating a proposal to amend the Bidding Law and force the contracting of insurance for 100% of the construction that is government contracted.

49.

Proposal: Separate the elections of the Legislative and the Executive, so that the mayor, governor and president have greater parliamentary support.

Implementation: Approve a constitutional amendment to separate the elections.


Miro Teixeira, congressman for the Rio Sustainability Network:

50.

Proposal: Change the internal control system of the ministries, so that the portfolio holder does not choose who will control management.

Implementation: The Head of the Executive can determine, for example, that only auditors of the Federal Audit Office or the Office of the Comptroller General of the Union have the function of controlling expenditure.

Source (PT)

Policing Rio beaches – 1917

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Cariocas and the Sea, Not Always a Love Affair
O Globo, 2005

The history of the evolution of habits shows that going to the beach was already an activity that could end at the police station

The sea bath in 1917 was therapy advised by doctors and restricted, by decree, to certain times. Noise and shouting were also forbidden. Bathing suits, only with “necessary decency”, that is, with the body covered up. The swimsuits were less suffocating in the 1930s, but the police took the looser bathers to jail. It was the “pro-decency campaign.” The libertarian vocation of the Carioca was reborn in the boldness of the fifties, which, even under the sandstorm of conservatives, transgressed with showy “two pieces.” The swimsuit became the bikini, and in the 80s they took off the top. Topless didn’t take root, but the limit was no longer a decree or code of conduct, but the fashion.

With a century having passed, Cariocas have killed off various laws, ordinances and rules of behavior to choose, without repression, the proper conduct for the magical scenery formed by sand, sea and bodies exposed to the sun.

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Outlaw bathers could spend five days in jail

The beaches fell into the purview of the law after a decree (1.143) from Rio Mayor Amaro Cavalcanti in May 1917. The measure, which regulated the use of Leme and Copacabana beaches, instituted: “Sea baths will only be allowed from April 1st to November 30th, from 6 to 9AM and from 4 to 6PM; From December 1st to March 31st from 5 to 8AM and from 5 to 7PM. In other words: during the day, the beach was off limits. Anyone who broke the rules, paid 20 mil reis or spent five days in prison.

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Claudia Gaspar, author of the book “Orla Carioca: história e cultura“, says that the first beaches laws had probable French origin.

“The rules must have come from manuals from that country, so much that the lifeguard stations were called places of sauvatage. Despite the restrictions, it was a step up from the previous period, when some people rented boats in Praça XV to take private baths off the coast. The beach was still more medicinal than social,” recalls Claudia.

Writers came out in defense of the one-piece. The author of “Orla Carioca” found in a 1926 edition of the newspaper “Beira Mar” an ode to freedom: “We are already angry about this false moral civilization created by our grandparents. It is frankly ridiculous that in the mid-twentieth century we want to shape our standard of living in the archaic and moldy mirrors of 1830. ”

It was not long before society reacted: on January 12, 1931, on the front page of Globo, the headline said: “The pro-modesty campaign was initiated by the police on the bathing beaches of Rio.” The photos showed bathers forced to wear long robes and others being taken to the police station. It was forbidden, among other things, to walk the access streets to the beach dressed in swimsuits. The limits continued in the years to come, as 69-year old retired UFRJ history professor Miridan Falci says:

“One would leave the beach with a large towel wrapped around one’s body, and at times it was forbidden. On the buses, a warning said: “the entry of bathers is prohibited”. But I witnessed liberation: I was on Ipanema Beach in 1971, the day that Leila Diniz appeared pregnant in a bikini!

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Topless fashion erupted in the “summer of amnesty”, in 1980, but it never became a broad, general and unrestrained fashion. Legally, it was banned and unbanned several times – the first time in 1973, when the Federal Supreme Court denied an injunction requested by a bather, who wanted to expose her body with the approval of the judges. In 2000, commercial representative Rosimeri Moura da Costa, 34, was arrested while going topless in Recreio, accused of an obscene act. Today, Cariocas are free to leave the beach and go to chic places, but they prefer tempered swimsuits, even on the beach, according to a couple of artists Lúcio Tapajós, 35, and Renata Nonô, 32. She gives her version for the return to the past:

“Even to buy a coconut at the kiosk, many girls wear a shorts or a sarong. And the bikinis look like bathing suits. But this is not a conservative wave, but an excess of body worship. People get hysterical when they have cellulite or a stretch mark.”

It is another kind of dictatorship: that of the perfect body. But at least in sports, there are those who float above the new rules. Marianne Kerr, 23, surfs every day in a bikini at Leblon. When the time is short, one leaves home ready to enter the water without fear of being misinterpreted.

“Since I live close by, when I’m in a hurry, before college or work, I go out in a bikini to the beach. Cariocas do not do much of this, but there is nothing wrong with it”, says the surfer, who studies psychology at PUC.

Marianne would not have a good time on a beach from last century. She would have a problem with her bikini until the 1950s, and in the 1970s she would have to leave the board in the sand for most of the day, as surfing also suffered under the laws. A 1976 resolution by the State Department of Public Safety established that the sport could only be practiced after 2PM on seven beaches in the state. On the rest of the coast it was forbidden. Frescobol continues to be illegal, but the most restricted sport currently is kitesurfing, allowed in Rio just between two kiosks at Barra beach. – Source (PT, PDF)


For more, listen to this 10-minute podcast (PT) from Cultura Popular Carioca, or read this article (PT) from O Globo. From Deep Rio, be sure to check out The Cabines of Copacabana. I’ll also add two articles from Revista da Semana from 1917/18 that talk about the dangers of indecency (once clicked, you can open them full size in the bottom, right-hand corner).

 

Rio Olympics, one year later

I’ve been seeing articles and videos on the topic for a few months but I was waiting for one that could hit upon the zeitgeist. I think this 19-min report by China Global TV Network does a nice job of showing just that.

It’s sad to see but it’s not like this wasn’t the expected outcome. There are so many pressing issues but I feel like if public safety could be at least under control, it’d make a world of difference. For that to happen, police presence would have to be increased by 10 times.

Rio’s new noise law carries heavy fines

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Stricter than the previous one, the new ‘Silence Law’ can carry a fine of up to R$5,000 for establishments that make “excessive noise” in Rio. In case the bar or restaurant is a repeat offender, the amount can be consecutively doubled. For individuals, punishments will be fines of R$500, “independently of the requirement to cease the transgression.” Authored by City Councilor Alexandre Arraes (PSDB), the law was mandated by Mayor Marcelo Crivella on Friday (June 30) and published in the Official Gazette this Monday (July 3).

Noise inspection will be transfered from the Military Police and will fall upon the Municipal Guard. The agents will be equipped with noise measuring devices, certified by the National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (Inmetro), to measure the volume of music in bars, parties and public squares. According to the Municipal Bureau of Public Order, the start of activities should take between 60 and 90 days. – Source (PT)

241 complaints per day

The Municipal Guards’ new job comes at a good moment. According to information gathered by Seop, excess noise is one of the main complaints made by Rio residents, as noted via the Military Police hotline. The Secretary said that, according to data from the Institute of Public Security (ISP), an average of 241 requests are received per day in the city. – Source (PT)


As always, a fine idea but let’s see how/if it’s actually put into practice.

How Rio’s illegal lottery came about

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How does one describe to a foreigner an institution as Brazilian as the jogo do bicho (animal game), a former zoo raffle that has existed for 125 years, is against the law and has become one of the biggest illegal lotteries in the world?

The question arose during an unpretentious chat, but it motivated political scientist Danilo Freire to investigate the subject in depth.

Using economic tools, he reached unprecedented conclusions about the informal rules and mechanisms of force that helped this illegal betting bazaar survive more than 30 governments in Brazil, from dictatorships to democracies.

Studies on animal game in the country were done, above all, within anthropology and history. Excellent studies, says Freire, but with a focus on symbolic aspects – such as the influence of dreams and everyday facts on gamblers’ hunches – or moments of the game at a given time.

“I tried to analyze the game as a capitalist enterprise because, first of all, that’s what it is. It was created to generate profit,” says the 34-year-old researcher who studied the subject for his PhD in political economics at King’s College London, one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Rational choice theory – one of the economic tools employed by Freire – assumes that people think in terms of cost-benefit. They always try to improve their well-being, although they don’t make the best decisions all the time and cannot predict the future. But they do their best to increase their chances.

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Papers with old lottery results

“The animal game is a business, and it seems reasonable to me that bicheiros (those who run the games) are rational, and if they were not, they are unlikely to have accumulated the fortune and influence they have. They are people with good business skills and strategic thinking to negotiate, legally or not, with politicians and police, among others.”

Historical circumstances

The embryo of the animal game came in 1892, when Baron João Batista Drummond had an idea to attract visitors to his zoo in Vila Isabel, in Rio’s north zone.

The place had exotic species and beautiful views of the city but was missing people. Among the new entertainment suggestions for the venue, one stood out: a raffle.

In the morning, the Baron chose an animal from a list of 25 animals and placed its image in a wooden box at the entrance to the zoo. Those who participated would earn a ticket with a picture of one of these 25 animals.

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Entrance ticket from 1896, authorizing the visitor to participate in the raffle

At the end of the day the Baron would open the box and show the figure. The winner got 20 times the value of the entrance price – which surpassed, for example, the monthly income of a carpenter at the time.

“Being able to choose the animal was a great idea, because it made the game much more interesting. Eventually this made people start to interpret dreams, license plates and numbers, in very fun ways too,” says Freire, who also has a master’s degree in Political Science from USP and in International Relations from the Institute of Higher International Studies in Geneva.

The lottery was christened the animal game and soon became a craze – tickets began to be sold not only in the zoo, but in stores throughout the city. Repression didn’t take long – authorities criminalized the activity in the late 1890s, for the sake of “public safety.”

Freire points to four facets of late-19th-century Brazil that help explain the emergence of the animal game:

1) A growing urban population, excluded from the labor market;

2) The flow of immigrants with family networks that encouraged participation in commerce;

3) An increase in the circulation of capital, motivated by factors such as the abolition of slavery and nascent industrialization;

4) A weak judicial system regarding criminal repression.

“Cities began to grow, and the end of slavery and the influx of immigrants into the country increased the number of urban poor. The illegal market was the only income option for many people,” explains the political scientist.

“Even though the game was illegal, the law was never enforced very strictly. To this day the game is considered only a misdemeanor, a lesser crime (leading to four months to a year in prison). Thus, punishment wasn’t enough to frighten the bicheiros – profits offset the risk of being arrested.”

Modus operandi

In the animal game, each of the 25 animals corresponds to four numbers: from ostrich (01 to 04) to cow (97 to 00). There are different betting options, and the prize varies with the possibility of winning.

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Table of the first 15 animals

In general, your animal will win if the last two numbers of the thousand announced in the Federal Lottery correspond to the number of the animal. For example: if the lottery drew the number 3350, the winner is the rooster (49 to 52).

You can also bet on the thousand (the so-called “na cabeça” bet): choosing the four numbers and hope the four come out in the first draw. It is the highest move: usually paying R$4 thousand on a R$1 bet.

“The bicheiros try to expand their businesses and offer something that attracts gamblers. When a bet succeeds in one place, it will probably be copied by neighbors and tested in other markets,” says Freire.

The structure of the game has three levels of hierarchy. Bicheiros or note takers are the most visible face of the business: they sell the stakes with their notepads and stamps. Managers are accountants who take care of the bicheiros of a certain area, mediating contact and the flow of money to the bankers (also known as bicheiros), the financial elite of the game.

A study by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation estimated that the animal game raked in from R$1.3 billion to R$2.8 billion in the country in 2014 – a number that some considered underestimated.

In the 1990s, it employed 50,000 people in the city of Rio de Janeiro alone – Petrobras, for example, has 68,000 employees.

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A bicheiro’s bench in Rio

Sure to go wrong

But how has this business managed to differentiate itself from other illegal markets and become profitable in the long run? In theory, everything conspired to go wrong: who would give money to a wrongdoer and wait for him to pay it back?

“Those who win and don’t get paid cannot complain to PROCON (consumer protection agency), open a lawsuit or call the police,” recalls Freire.

In addition, raffles were held in hidden places (usually “fortresses”, the bankers’ HQs) and the practice was reputed to be a moral vice and had strong opposition from the Catholic Church.

The researcher identifies two mechanisms that have reduced the stigma surrounding the game: building a strong reputation for honesty and offering specific incentives to clients and employees.

Trust came with measures such as making the raffle results viewable to everyone (on light posts, for example), on-time payments and a fixed multiplier formula for the prizes – if a gambler wins the smallest prize, for example, he will receive 18 times his investment regardless of the amount of the bet.

“Every gambler already knows how much he can win. It’s easier for people to understand and leaves the bicheiro in a situation where everyone knows how much he has to pay,” says Freire.

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Paper with the game results

Since the 1950s, when the bankers of the animal game transferred their operations to “fortresses,” the drawings left the public eye, which could have reduced the trust and profits of the activity.

The business, however, solved this problem of “information asymmetry” by starting to use the winning numbers of the Federal Lottery in its raffles, hitching a ride on the credibility of the official betting trade.

Another strategy to create a good reputation, says Freire, was the financing of cultural activities, especially Rio samba schools.

“They give jobs to residents, generate profits for the communities, increase tourism in Rio and, of course, they become a national symbol”, says the researcher, who also cites the foundation of LIESA (Independent League of Rio de Janeiro Samba Schools) by animal game bankers in 1985.

“Samba schools began to receive state support in the mid-1930s. But the government intervened in sambas and parades. The animal game gave schools some freedom and allowed more elaborate parades and for schools to become more professional.”

Solving internal problems

The illegal business had to deal with problems common to any company: lazy employees, cruel bosses, cash shortages. How does one ensure, for example, that bankers don’t pocket gambling money? There is, of course, a threat of violent retaliation, but it isn’t something common.

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A notepad with bets

A more frequent tactic, says Freire, is the provision of “collective benefits,” such as private security provided by corrupt gunmen and police, small interest-free loans for unexpected expenses such as health care, and gambler tips.

“It would be as if the animal game bankers paid bonuses and shared part of the profits for employees to put in effort. It’s something that many companies also do,” he says.

There is also the risk of “bank failure” – when the business cannot pay the premiums, for example, in case of a very high bet. The solution to potential liquidity problems was “unloading”: smaller bidders get “insurance” by paying part of the bets to a larger bicheiro, who guarantees high bets if necessary.

“Banks and companies do the same thing with shared risk contracts, hedge and insurance operations. The mechanism is the same,” explains Freire – but the mechanism tends to enrich the more powerful bicheiros.

The animal game also grew in collaboration with public authorities. The political scientist says that these criminal partnerships have gained momentum during the dictatorship and have remained during the current democratic period. Politicians, for example, benefit from donations via caixa 2 (slush funds) and the bicheiros’ access to poor communities.

Open questions

After looking at the world’s largest illegal lottery for more than a year, Freire still sees issues that need to be further studied, such as the relationship between gambling and drug trafficking and between bicheiros in different states.

“Bicheiros came long before the growth in traffic. How do they share space? Is there more cooperation or conflict? It’s possible that they only share areas of influence and barely communicate, but perhaps do business, exchange information, and help each other when needed. Something that’s still unanswered,” he says.

And after studying the theme in depth, how does he see, for example, the Senate’s 2014 bill to legalize gambling in Brazil, including the animal game?

“I am in favor of it. If a person bets with his own free will, he can spend his money as he likes.” The argument that legalization would lead to addictions doesn’t seem convincing to me, what’s the difference between playing the game and the Federal Lottery?,” he asks.

“In addition, as the animal game proves, the fact that the game is illegal doesn’t stop people from betting. The State could even collect money from the animal game. One would just need to know if the bicheiros are interested in paying taxes, which I have my doubts about.” – Source (PT)

Brazil’s largest robbery of rare books

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The former Central Library of the University of Brazil – currently the Pedro Calmon Library of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), which houses rarities from Imperial times – was robbed last year, and now, after surveying what disappeared from the shelves, what has been discovered is astonishing: the greatest theft of rare books ever recorded in the country.

Three-hundred and three rare works have disappeared, among them the 16 volumes of the first edition of Sermões by Father Antônio Vieira (1610) and almost the entirety of the Coleção Brasiliana, composed of books by European travelers that recorded flora, fauna and customs of the 17th to 19th century in the country.

Precious works such as Expédition dans les parties centrales de l’Amérique du Sud (1850-1859), by the French naturalist Francis de Castelnau, with hundreds of hand-painted lithographs, and a book by the German ethnographer Thomas Koch-Grümberg, a pioneer of anthropological photography, with 141 photos of Indians from the region of the Japurá River in the Amazon, portrayed between 1903 and 1905. The main targets were works with engravings, which are usually cut with a razor and sold separately.

The suspicion is that the theft had been taking place over months during a renovation of the building in 2016. The shelves were enclosed with black plastic bags – and it was within them that thieves worked.

At first, the crime seemed small. Two criminals – Laéssio Rodrigues de Oliveira, 44, a former Library Sciences student involved in book robberies since 1998, and Valnique Bueno, his partner – were arrested by the São Paulo police in November for stealing works from the Faculties of Architecture and Law of the University of São Paulo (USP).

Since there were five rarities from UFRJ with them, the alarm was given at the Praia Vermelha campus in Rio. Today, six months later, the size of the crime is understood, a lot greater than ten or so copies. On the market, one can have idea of ​​going rates: just the 27 books mentioned as the “most rare” among the stolen ones are worth between US$119 – $157,000, according to an appraiser.

“The thief knew what to steal, he didn’t take them at random,” says police officer Marcelo Gondim, from São Paulo’s Tourism Police, who arrested Laéssio and his partner in November. “Security cameras show the pair stealing from USP. At UFRJ there are no images, but we arrested them for receiving [stolen goods]. The link to the theft in Rio is that the same books found with Laéssio and bookplates from UFRJ were thrown in a trash can at his house. “In March, three books by Pedro Calmon were recovered by the IRS – they went to Europe and had Laéssio as the sender. Currently, the Federal Police are investigating the crime.

An Old Acquaintance

Still without knowing the damage at the Rio institution, those who work in the area celebrated the imprisonment of Laéssio. He is an old acquaintance – he was convicted at least three times for theft of rare books and indicted for the same reason “countless times,” as indicated by a court decision. The largest collections in the country have already been his victims, such as the Mário de Andrade Library, the National Museum, National Library, Itamaraty Palace and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, among others.

Most books have never been found – the rate of recovery is 40%, according to Raphael Greenhalgh from the University of Brasilia (UnB), who wrote a doctoral thesis on the greatest thefts in the country, none as numerous as the one at Pedro Calmon. When the books return, it’s common for them to be adulterated. In a crime for which Laéssio was convicted, the theft in the National Museum, 14 rare works had the illustrations cut out.

With the new crime, librarians once again looked at Laéssio – and what they discovered caused an uprising. The life of the criminal will turn into film, financed with public money. Confissões de um Ladrão de Livros (Confessions of a Book Thief) is the title of the project, presented to the National Film Agency (Ancine) by Boutique Filmes. The agency authorized sponsorship of $242,000 through the Audiovisual Law. So far the producer has received $188,000 from Globo Filmes and the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES).

The fact that a notorious thief of public assets received government support to have his life portrayed on film led the victims to come together in protest. The Technical Chamber of Collection Security of the National Archives, attached to the Ministry of Justice, is preparing a document to repudiate the production. “It sounds like a mockery. Nothing against a film about crimes, but upon authorizing sponsorship, Ancine gives their stamp of approval for damages to public patrimony,” says Marcelo Lima, from the Technical Chamber.


“Imagine a young gay man from the projects on the outskirts of São Paulo obsessed with Carmen Miranda who becomes, according to the Federal Police, the biggest thief of rare books in Brazil. Imagine the tricks that allowed him to pillage the main libraries in the country, hunting for commissioned books worth their weight in gold to millionaire collectors…”


The synopsis of the film is also cause for discontent. Some of the excerpts: “The best thing of all is that Laéssio is real, flesh and blood, and his escalation in crime can be attested to by news stories …” and “throughout his journey, Laessio composed an incalculable portfolio.”

For the victims, they are signs that the film may glamorize the thief. “The only thing missing is to put a clown nose on public servants. It’d be the ‘icing on the cake’,” says Maria José da Silva Fernandes, director of the collection center of the National Library. “He’s not a Robin Hood of books. He removes them from a public institution and sells them to private individuals,” says the former director of the Mário de Andrade Library Luiz Armando Bagolin. “I have often tried to use incentive laws to maintain the collection, and nothing [happens]. Now a thief of Brazilian culture can?”, asks Jose Tavares Filho, the librarian responsible for the collection at Pedro Calmon.

Boutique Filmes says the synopsis was made before production actually began. And the result will not be the glamorization of Laéssio’s life.

After the theft, UFRJ reinforced the locks in the library and is installing new cameras. As for Laéssio, more news came out earlier this month: he was already going to answer for the USP and UFRJ cases, but he was again arrested in Rio, convicted by the Federal Court for theft at the National Museum in 2004. The penalty is ten years in jail, for aggravated robbery for a “serious disregard of national memory.”

Those who take care of this memory have celebrated a little, but remain skeptical: the general feeling among librarians is that, as one of them wrote, “stealing books doesn’t mean jail time in Brazil.” – Source (PT)