Anger in Brazil after beating to death

The beating of a 40-year-old black man at the hands of two guards, who ended with the man dying, has sparked major protests in Brazil.

The incident, which took place in the large city of Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, was filmed by a witness and the video quickly spread on social media. There, one of the guards is seen holding Joao Alberto Silveira, a heavily built black man, while the other guard repeatedly strikes his head and face with quick fist blows.

A short while later Joao Alberto Silveira is lying lifeless on the floor. One of the uniformed is a military policeman who works as a guard in his spare time at the Carrefour supermarket. According to store management, Joao Alberto Silveira had acted threateningly towards an employee and therefore the guards had been called.

The spread of the images of the fatal beating caused anger to explode among the many Brazilians who experience discrimination in everyday life. Tens of thousands took to the streets of major cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre itself, under the slogan to stop racism.

Banners with the text Vidas negras importan, a translation of Black lives matter, show the parallel one makes here to George Floyd, who died in connection with a police intervention in the USA this spring.

Just over half of the population in the giant country Brazil claims to be either black or mestizo. Many of them are descendants of slaves. Brazil was the last country in Latin America to abolish slavery in 1888. Many studies claim that the legacy of slavery still lives on today.

Blacks and mestizos earn less, go to poorer schools, are more likely to suffer violence and have a shorter life expectancy than the white population.

President Jair Bolsonaro spoke about the beating to death yesterday. Then he said that there is no racism in Brazil. That those who say so, just want to divide the nation. His vice president added: What we saw now is not racism, it is just discrimination.

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