Brazil’s preparations for the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium tonight swung into top gear with the weekend arrests of anti-World Cup activists. Rio’s civil police and special cybercrimes unit arrested 28 people, according to the The Con’s sources in Brazil. Police, however, have confirmed the arrest of 18 activists, and there are suggestions more arrests will follow.
Arrest warrants have been issued by the 27th Criminal Court of Justice of Rio de Janeiro for more than 50 activists in what appears a repressive suspension of the country’s constitutional rights guaranteeing freedom of political association and expression.
It was the passing of the World Cup General Law in 2012 that compromised Brazil’s sovereignty to allow this attack on civil freedoms. The law allows Fifa to operate as an independent state within Brazil, dictating its own terms – many of which are unconstitutional – to ensure the tournament is run as it sees fit. It has been enforced to the extent that any anti-World Cup protests have been criminalised on grounds of conspiracy and terrorism.
At a press conference on Saturday, which alternative media outlets were barred from reporting on, Rio’s chief of police, Fernando Veloso, said those arrested were “clearly” planning to engage in acts of violence, noting that they were members of movements like Anonymous and the Black Bloc.
Police at the press conference laid out the objects of “terrorism” they had uncovered from raids on activists’ homes: flags, T-shirts, masks and one gun. When, according to a source in Rio, it was pointed out to police that the gun retrieved was licenced and belonged to the father of an activist, he was also arrested.
Brazilians have been “carnivalising” the anti-World Cup protests since thousands took to the street last year during the Confederations Cup to protest against the government’s multibillion-dollar expenditure on the World Cup, which, many have said, could have been better spent on failing public transport systems, healthcare and education. In their “carnivalisation”, which has been largely peaceful during the month-long tournament, protesters have taken to dressing up in costumes and masks to get their point across.
According to The Con’s sources in Rio – activists who preferred to talk anonymously for fear of police arrest – arrests have been arbitrary, and in some cases warrants have not been produced.
According to one source, activists were arrested at a meeting on Saturday without warrants and were released only after lawyers intervened. After their release, some activists allegedly found that their SIM cards had been removed from their cellphones.
The Con’s source in Rio also said that a lawyer and two teenagers were among those arrested, and that nine activists are unaccounted for since the raids began on Saturday.
The provisional arrests were apparently made after police monitoring of phone records and internet correspondence between activists.
“Clearly this policy is intended to inhibit protests on the last day of the event. The federal government, the state of Rio and the city are committed to this attack on democracy in which fundamental rights are suspended,” said a source.
The source pointed out the fact that government has confirmed 25 000 members of the police and army will be patrolling Rio on Sunday in anticipation of protests. The Con understands that despite this clampdown, several protests are being organised for tonight in and around Rio.
Pockets of protest have been ongoing during the World Cup, but have intensified in recent days after the Brazilian national team were knocked out of the tournament following a 7-1 thrashing by Germany in the semifinals. Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Holland in the third-place playoff in the country’s capital, Brasilia, has hardened anti-World Cup sentiment, which has been bubbling over ever since it became apparent that the tournament – to be initially funded by the private sector – was, in the majority, to be paid for from public coffers.
The Con understands that those arrested will be moved to the Bangu Penitentiary Complex, a maximum-security prison in Rio, on Sunday. Many of them, some of whom are facing charges of vandalism related to the anti-World Cup protests, could face up to three years in jail.
Activists who have been confirmed arrested:
– Eliza Quadros Pinto Sanzi, “Sininho”
– Gerusa Lopes Diniz, “G Lo”
– Tiago Teixeira Neves da Rocha
– Eduarda Oliveira Castro de Souza
– Gabriel da Silva Marinho
– Karlayne Moraes da Silva Pinheiro, “Moa”
– Eloysa Samy Santiago
– Camila Aparecida Rodrigues Jourdan
– Igor Pereira D’ Icarahy
– Emerson Raphael Oliveira da Fonseca
– Rafael Rêgo Barros Caruso
– Filipe Proença de Carvalho Moraes, “Ratão”
– Felipe Frieb de Carvalho
– Pedro Brandão Maia, “Pedro Funk”
– Bruno de Souza Vieira Machado
– Rebeca Martins de Souza
– Joseane Maria Araújo de Freitas
– Eronaldo Araújo da Fonseca
– Sarah Borges Galvão de Souza
Activists who are missing:
– Luiz Carlos Rendeiro Junior, “Game Over”
– Luiza Dreyer de Souza Rodrigues
– Ricardo Egoavil Calderon, “Karyu
– Igor Mendes da Silva
– Drean Moraes de Moura Corrêa, “DR”
– Shirlene Feitoza da Fonseca
– Leonardo Fortini Baroni Pereira
– Pedro Guilherme Mascarenhas Freire
– André de Castro Sanchez Basseres