Aug 26 2014

Brazil Prison Riot Represents Serious Social Problems Ahead of Elections

On Sunday morning, prisoners at the overcrowded Cascavel Prison in southern Brazil rose up in revolt of their deplorable living conditions. The riot which left four prisoners dead, two of them beheaded, was in response to excessive abuse by prison guards, poor sanitation, frequent strip searches, shackles and inadequate food. Prison officials are now in negotiations with prisoners and the standoff has ended after more than 30 hours.

Prison riots are not uncommon in Brazil which has seen its incarceration rates increase more than 30 percent in the last five years creating severe overcrowding. Human rights groups have found accusations of torture, women and minors sharing units with men, and overflowing sewage inside the world’s fourth largest prison system. Within the last year another prison in the northern part of Brazil also saw beheadings and riots which killed 60 people.

Meanwhile, Brazilians are getting ready to choose their next President in October. Incumbent Dilma Rousseff is running against Aecio Neves and Socialist Party Candidate Marina Silva. Silva, who grew up very poor, entered the race following the recent untimely death of Brazilian Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash. Brazil, which just finished hosting this year’s World Cup Soccer tournament is now gearing up to spend another $15 billion dollars preparing for the Summer Olympics in 2016.

GUEST: Maria Luisa Mendonça is director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights and professor in the international relations department at the University of Rio De Janeiro.

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