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Foreign Correspondent

Being the Ongoing Tales, Triumphs, Struggles (mostly struggles) and Occasional Adventures of Freelance Foreign Correspondent Shawn Gerald Blore, based in Rio de Janeiro

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Violence in Sao Paulo

Something is happening in Sao Paulo.

A gang of criminals - the PCC - with an organizational structure modelled on a revulutionary guerilla movement has been directing armed attacks against police and prison guards, and ordering the takeover and burning of public buses. Some 75 police and prison guards have been killed since the attacks began, about a dozen busses burned. In reprisal, police have killed some 300 people they believe might have some connection to the PCC gang. Twice in less than a month the PCC attacks have brought Sao Paulo, the largest city in South America, and one of the ten largest or so in the world, to a complete standstill, as worried bus line owners kept their fleets in the garage and worried workers stayed home.

The first time it made the news in North America. This second time, it has been ignored. Repeated news is no longer news, except when it involves Israel, where the headlines have been unchanged all my adult life, yet somehow continue to make the front page.

Curious too, how different newspapers treat the city's urban violence. In Argentina, readers of Clarin are told that There is panic in Sao Paulo as a result of a Mass Prison Break

19:41 | Brasil: pánico por una fuga masiva de presos en el interior de San Pablo

Al menos cuarenta presos se fugaron de una cárcel de Iguacu do Tieté, en el interior del estado brasileño de San Pablo, causando pánico en la población, informaron hoy medios locales.

In Sao Paulo, readers of the Folha de Sao Paulo are told that Sao Paulo had a peaceful Sunday, with no new attacks, and bus line circulating normally.

16/07/2006 - 16h06

São Paulo tem domingo tranqüilo e sem registros de novos ataques

da Folha Online

O domingo está tranqüilo em São Paulo. Nenhum novo ataque foi registrado desde a noite de sábado, segundo dados da Secretaria de Segurança Pública do Estado.

Ônibus circularam normalmente e a empresa EcoUrbis montou esquema especial de coleta na zona leste da cidade, depois de ataques a três caminhões de lixo desde quinta (13).

In Canada and the US, as I mentioned, readers are told nothing at all.

Sociologists in Rio have speculated that given the number of dead on both sides (50 cops, 400 civilians, presumbed to be gang members in a ten day persiod. This is only slightly higher than the norm. In Rio for example, a cop dies about once a week, and the police kill about four people a day) Brazil could technically be considered to be in a state of civil war.

But so far, the outside world hasn't noticed.

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