Brazil, October 06th, 2022 – On October 2, Brazilians were heading to the polls to define the political scene for the next four-years in Brazil. These elections have sparked several episodes of political violence. In recent weeks, it has become clear that this violence is not only directed towards candidates, but also to voters, especially when they defend agendas considered progressive and linked to human rights. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), as a non-partisan organization, expresses deep concern around the challenges of a guaranteed Brazilian democracy, freedom of expression, and political participation during the election period.
Recent cases reveal the extreme brutality and attempts at silencing. For instance, on September 26, in Cascavel, Ceará, a man was stabbed to death after being asked about his vote and declaring that he would vote for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Councilman and candidate for federal deputy, Renato Freitas, even had his mandate revoked by the Chamber of Curitiba, which was reinstated after the decision of the Federal Supreme Court that recognized the presence of structural racism in the act. Both situations point out that conservative practices are strategically implemented through the promotion of hate speech and the persecution of any opponent of their government, creating greater democratic disparity.
Fear has become an anti-human rights political tool, and as it has been denounced by Brazilian social movements, political violence is exacerbated when it permeates through the black and LGBTI+ population. Black, transvestite, and transgender women are systemically impacted through political violence as a way of making their political participation unfeasible, through use of offenses, threats, public humiliation, and intimidation.
We know that poverty in Brazil involves class, race, and gender and that this part of the population is still underrepresented in the spheres of power, whether in Congress, political parties, or state and municipal governments. Considering the importance of centering the racial agenda in the electoral debate and also in the government’s public policies, through this editorial we highlight the following: in a country whose population is mostly black (56%), with an unpayable historical debt between Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples , the political agenda needs to be darkened: the intersectional racial debate needs to be effectively incorporated in order to build political accountability for social inequality.
Debate around blackening the political agenda also means discussing the support and strengthening of black candidates committed to the racial agenda. TSE data show that, of the 28,966 candidacies registered in the court, 14,497 are from black people. However, a few days before the elections, most political parties had not reached the minimum percentages of transfers from the electoral fund to black candidates, who had received only 36% of the fund’s resources. It should also be noted that, on one hand, in the few electoral debates of presidential candidates, the racial agenda was not addressed, moreover among most Brazilian states, the candidates with real possibilities of winning the presidential and congressional elections are white and cis-heterosexual men.
Therefore, we highlight some political reflections that we consider urgent and necessary to break with the paradigms of violence proposed by the current discriminatory, racist, sexist and LGBTIphobic structure. Furthermore, this is a call to the political class and the social movement to, without fail, demand that any construction of public policies include the intersectional racial perspective of 2022-2026.
Black women: Racialization of the Maria da Penha Law and political plan for care economy
The most recent data show that in Brazil, between 2009 and 2019, the number of homicides against black women increased by 2%, while the number of homicides against non-black women fell by 26.9% in the same period. Thus, even after the implementation of the Maria da Penha Law, rates of violence continue to disproportionately affect black women. For these reasons, the black women’s movement claims the need to racialize the legislation for the construction of public policies that contemplate their safety.
The insertion of a social justice plan aimed at black women presents a reparatory path within a culture of hatred and violence against women. The current patriarchal structure needs to recognize the precarious living conditions and food insecurity in which most black women live in. We must not forget that a woman (black domestic worker) was the first death victim of COVID-19 in Brazil.
Racialization of the public security debate and federal accountability in the face of police lethality
As long as the racial agenda is not incorporated into the culture and militarized structure of public security in Brazil, the criminalization of the black population will continue to deepen in the country. It is essential that criminal justice practices seek new ways to combat violence and reduce mass black incarceration. In Brazil, the state does not take responsibility for the fundamental rights of its population and encourages violence through massacres and the reproduction of militias.
The number of licenses to carry weapons, expanded during the Bolsonaro government, and grew 325% in three years. In this way, we focus on the creation of collective strategies that seek a new public security policy to mitigate racist police violence, and encourage the collection, systematization, and referral of violations by state agents, especially in the favelas and peripheries of the state country.
Cartography of violence against LGBTI+ bodies in Brazil
It is important to remember that the LGBTI+ political agenda is not disconnected from the racial agenda, on the contrary, the violence data reflect that black trans women are the biggest victims of cruel murder in the country. Therefore, we focus on the transversality of public policies that can contemplate the LGBTI+ population in its particularities. It is necessary that data collection be a governmental responsibility and that a collective agenda be put into practice that starts from a sociocultural and educational reorganization, in which LGBTIphobic practices are in fact held accountable and do not remain unpunished. It is necessary to remove Brazil from the regrettable record of being the country that kills the most LGBTI+ people in the world and, for that, a governmental commitment to the rights of this population is necessary.
Religious racism: Implementation of a strategic plan to contain violence against African-based religions
In a secular state, the discourse that uses religion to legitimize and promote violence, as well as express prejudice, needs to be fought against. We express strong concern especially in a scenario of advancing neo-Pentecostal fundamentalism. Religion should not reverberate a culture of hatred and intolerance against other religions. In Brazil, we know that this hatred is directed especially towards practitioners of religions of African origin, and in recent years there has been an aggravation of what many terreiros and organizations have called religious racism. Thus, we urge the defense of the rights of African-based religions and traditional peoples of the country.
Indigenous peoples: representation and defense of Amazonian territories
We emphasize that the claims for the racialization of public policies contemplate, in their entirety, the ethnic-racial demands of the Brazilian population. Therefore, the native peoples and quilombolas need the new government to meet their specificities and protect their territories. Environmental racism occurs from the devastation of the Amazon Forest and indigenous and quilombola territories. This includes the disruption of sanitary and housing conditions of peripheral communities that live on slopes and riversides. Indigenous underrepresentation, whether in parliaments or in any other decision and power space, is leading to yet another decimation of many peoples, and exploitatively benefits agribusiness and mining companies.
The indigenous call for the end of the time frame is just one of the survival strategies in which they continue to denounce the massacre of their communities by miners. The increasing destruction of the Amazon rainforest continues to be denounced by activists and human rights defenders– a fact that has led Brazil to enter the UN’s “dirty list” as a dangerous country for these leaders. Thus, we insist that this governmental intimidation imposed on civil society with the closure of civic spaces cease, and we continue to demand that the next government reactivate committees and councils that value the preservation of human rights.
Implementation of international agreements that value the fight against structural racism
Since May 2021, Brazil has ratified the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and, as a next step, the government must implement the Convention. With the status of constitutional amendment, the CIRDI also deals with economic and social rights, representing a legal instrument that allows a new horizon for projects of historical reparation and representation.
Over the last few years, Race and Equality has been working in Brazil to strengthen civil society organizations in the fight against racial discrimination and gender inequalities, fostered by current exclusionary policies and the growth of hate speech. Since then, as a human rights organization, we have continued to denounce human rights violations in the country. Difficult challenges continue to arise as civil society encourages the government to incorporate the intersectional racial debate.
Race and Equality will continue to monitor the Brazilian State and bring to light, at the international level, patterns of violations that are repeated at the expense of vulnerable populations. We are all responsible. There is no possible neutrality in a society who is the agency for change. Voting, in its democratic process, is the exercise of the right to change, and at this moment, an exit door for hate speech.
 Black, quilombola and indigenous population