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Death Threats Follow Cartoonist Latuff's Criticism of Brazil's Military Police

[All links lead to Portuguese-language pages unless otherwise noted.]

A comment by cartoonist Carlos Latuff [en] on his Facebook about the recent case of the suspected murder of two military police officers by their own 13 -year-old son elicited immediate reactions on social networks, including death threats.

Known for [en] “defending human rights through his cartoons composed of simple strokes and acidic humor”, Latuff wrote on his Facebook profile on August 6, 2013:

Garoto mata seu pai, que era policial da ROTA…esse menino precisa de duas coisas: atendimento psicológico e uma medalha.

A boy kills his father, that was a ROTA cop… this boy needs two things: psychological treatment and a medal.

He mentions the primary suspect of the murder of four adult members of the same family from Vila Brasilandia in Sao Paulo is a 13-year-old boy who is thought to have committed suicide after the crime on August 5, 2013. The boy's father was the sergeant of the elite troop of Sao Paulo military police known as ROTA [en] (an acronym for Tobias de Aguiar's Ostensive Rounds, in Portuguese) with a reputation for killing indiscriminately, and his mother was a corporal of the military police. The maternal grandmother and aunt of the child were also found dead near the family home.

The Sao Paulo Department of Homicide and Protection of Civil Police Personnel is investigating the controversial case.

At a time when the debate about demilitarizing [en] Brazil's military police has deepened following massive protests [en] that overwhelmed the streets of the country in June 2013, Latuff's cartoons criticizing police action are frequent.

In a Facebook post on August 7, Latuff reacted to the threats he received:

Ao longo dos meus 23 anos de profissão como cartunista já fui detido três vezes por desenhar contra a truculência da polícia brasileira, e já recebi inúmeras ameaças, seja de judeus sionistas por conta de minhas charges em favor dos palestinos, seja de extremistas muçulmanos pelas minhas charges sobre a questão egípcia e síria. Portanto, ameaças fazem parte do meu trabalho.

During my 23 years of as a professional cartoonist I have been arrested three times for drawing against the brutality of the Brazilian police, and I have already received countless threats, whether from Zionist Jews because of my cartoons in favor of the Palestinians, or from Muslim extremists for my cartoons about the Egyptian and Syrian situation. Therefore, threats are a part of my work.

But now, military police and their followers have started to threaten the cartoonist with death on social networks and Latuff believes that he is in danger.

Screenshot of the profile of one of the military police officers that threatened Latuff on Facebook.

Screenshot of the profile of one of the military police officers that threatened Latuff on Facebook: “If I come across him, I put him down (…) the place for people like him is the ditch”.

Revista Fórum (Forum Magazine) lists a series of threatening comments made against Latuff in the Facebook page of ROTA, including:

Se vc apoia esse lixo é terrorista igual e se é terrorista, tem mais é que morrer, lixo.

If you support this rubbish you are a terrorist like him and if you are a terrorist, you should die, rubbish.

The same magazine got a statement from the cartoonist in which he affirmed that the phrase was a “provocation”:

Esse tema é tabu. Não podemos tratar da violência policial no Brasil. Vivemos em um Estado policial, e nesse Estado você não pode ser crítico, senão é ameaçado.

This issue is taboo. We can't talk about police violence in Brazil. We live in a police state, and in this state you can't be a critic, or else be threatened.

"For significant rendered services" Latuff's engaging artwork, denouncing the crimes of the military police/ROTA. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff, free use.

“For significant rendered services.” Latuff's engaging artwork, denouncing the crimes of the military police and the elite police force ROTA. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff, free use.

On his Facebook, on August 6, he said he did not feel intimidated and reaffirmed:

Quem conhece meu trabalho sobre a violência policial, sabe bem o que penso sobre a atuação das polícias no Brasil e lá fora. Sou coerente com o que acredito.

Those who know my work about police violence know well what I think about the actions of the police in Brazil and abroad. I am consistent with what I believe.

Even so, the following day the cartoonist made known the actual danger that he is in, making the Brazilian state responsible for whatever may happen to him:

Dessa vez, com as redes sociais, estas ameaças são potencializadas, graças a comunidades relacionadas a organizações policiais, que reúnem não só membros ativos das forças de repressão, como também simpatizantes com perfil fascista, anti-comunista, anti-petista, machista e homofóbico. É sabido que dois desses perfis, Fardados e Armados e Rondas ostensivas tobias de aguiar “Rota” estão incitando seus membros a tomarem ações violentas contra mim. E é bem possível que isso aconteça, afinal de contas, a polícia mata! Não seria eu o primeiro, e muito menos o último. Essa é a característica de nossas polícias, de nosso estado. E se acontecer, que sejam responsabilizados os administradores destas comunidades e o estado brasileiro.

This time, with social networks, these threats are potent, due to the communities linked to police organizations, that bring together not only active members of the forces of repression, but also sympathizers with fascist, anti-communist, anti-Worker's Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores), chauvinist, and homophobic profiles. It is known that two of these profiles, Fardados e Armados (Uniformed and Armed) e Rondas ostensivas tobias de aguiar “ROTA” are encouraging their members to take violent action against me. And it is very possible that it will happen, after everything, that the police will kill. I wouldn't be the first, and certainly not the last. This is characteristic of our police, of our state. And if this happens, those responsible will be the administrators of these communities and the Brazilian state.

"The Reaja (React) Campaign supports Carlos Latuff, directly from Bahia that bleeds from a police force that kills. For the end of the Military Police!" Campaign for the end of the Military Police, utilizing the threats made against cartoonist Carlos Latuff. Art about Latuff's cartoon, free use.

“The Reaja (React) Campaign supports Carlos Latuff, directly from Bahia that bleeds from a police force that kills. For the end of the Military Police!” Campaign for the end of the Military Police, utilizing the threats made against cartoonist Carlos Latuff. Art about Latuff's cartoon, free use.

Various organizations have demonstrated their solidarity, such as the Movement of Homeless Workers (MTST, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto), Mothers of May (Mães de Maio) and the Unified Socialist Workers’ Party (PSTU, Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado), which also selected a series of threats posted on social networks against the cartoonist. Messages of support from individuals and social and political organizations, including [en] from abroad [sb], “filled the inbox” of the author.

The Diário Liberdade (Liberty Daily) republished the letter disseminated by Latuff and professed its support for the cartoonist. The Catarse communication collective declared Latuff “an artist and a person fundamental to the defense of human rights in Brazil, and also in the many other countries where his work has reached and influenced.”

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