Mothers who lose their children to Brazil
“Mom, they gave me a shot”, Bruna da Silva recalls one of the last sentences Marcos Vinícius, 14, told him before dying. Like her, thousands of mothers bury their children every year in Brazil because of violence as chronic as it is devastating for the youth.
Marcos was wearing the school uniform when he received, last June, a shot in the back of supposedly part of the Police in the complex of favelas de la Maré, in Rio de Janeiro.
It was another day in the routine of this young student, who went to a friend’s house to go to school together and found himself in the middle of an operation unfolded shortly after the murder of a police officer.
“They turned down the street where we lived and they ran into an armored vehicle in the middle of the street, there was no trafficker, there was no shooting, the police shot,” says her mother, Bruna da Silva, who wears a T-shirt on the street. which is stamped a photograph of his little one and the phrase: “I love you son”.
Marcos was rescued urgently in a nearby ambulatory, still conscious.
“Mom, they gave me a shot, did not the armored one see me with the school clothes?” Says Bruna, recalling what her son told her at the clinic.
He needed to be transferred to a hospital, but the ambulance that was going to pick him up was arrested at the entrance of the community by the authorities, who “said there were no students” injured, according to Bruna, who has been denied psychological treatment by the Justice after the loss of his son.
After many calls an order was given to help the young man, but it was too late. Until today there are neither detainees, nor suspects, only another unsolved case.
Brazil reached in 2016 the historic record of 62,517 homicides, of which more than half (33,590) were young people between 15 and 29 years old, according to the Atlas of Violence 2018 report, prepared by Ipea, an institute linked to the Government, and the Brazilian Forum of Public Security.
Between 2006 and 2016, the number of children and adolescents killed increased by 23.3% to reach in that decade the dramatic figure of 324,967 young people killed violently.
“Everything (the violence) is against the poor, black and peripheral youth, does not need anything else: it is poor, it is black and from the periphery, and voila, it is already sentenced to death,” says Miriam Duarte, 55 years old and one of the driving forces of the Amparar association.
Miriam lives in Sapopemba, in the humble eastern part of the São Paulo capital, and has lost two of her three children when they were only 17 years old. The three were involved in the world of crime and passed through juvenile penitentiaries.
The elder, who had problems with drugs, died in 2000 of the shooting of a retired policeman in an attempt of theft after corrupt agents, Miriam tells, demanded a sum of money to continue in freedom.
They tried to denounce but gave up: “We were afraid that something happened to other relatives”.
Three years later, the youngest, also at 17, was killed in a neighborhood brawl. The third of his children is serving a seven-year jail sentence and will leave at the end of the year.
The drama did not end there. He also raised two of his nephews, one of whom died at the age of 21, a victim of “a shot in the leg and after falling, they shot him in the heart,” says Miriam.
“The mothers of the periphery lose the right to be mothers because their children are either dead or imprisoned,” he says.
“Here we fight every day to sleep alive, to be alive every day,” he adds.
Thousands of kilometers from Sao Paulo, in Natal, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte (northeast), where homicides against young people have increased by 382.2% between 2006 and 2016, violence is also rampant.
Erildice da Silva still does not understand why his brother and son, who were in their twenties, were approached last June and executed by strangers with head shots on their way to a party.
“They did not owe anything, they did not drink, they did not have vice and they killed them in spite of everything (…) Until today we find ourselves without answers, it was unpunished”, comments Efe Erildice.
Brazil begins to get used to violence that is ending, every day, with thousands of young people. The deceased mothers raise their voices to try to stop this bleeding.
Miriam drew strength to be trained and become a social educator for families punished by this scourge. Bruna still keeps Marcos’s uniform shirt (“It’s what gives me strength”) and promises to say “to the whole world” that “it was the Rio Police” who murdered his son.
“Our dead have a voice and our children have mothers,” she says. EFE
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