Rio Grande do Sul
IS GETTING A NEW POLITICAL PARTY: ITS BASE IS IN STATE PRISION
São Paulo, Brazil — Having demonstrated its dominance of the prison
system during a mass uprising, Brazil's most notorious criminal group is now
looking to extend its influence by organizing a political party. Naturally,
its platform calls for penal reform.
The group, the First City Command, known by its initials in Portuguese,
P.C.C., has already designated its first candidate for Congress in next
year's national elections.
He is Anselmo Neves Maia, a lawyer here who represents leaders of the
organization. He says the group also plans to endorse candidates in other
states who sympathize with the party platform.
"Prisoners all over the country are mobilized behind this cause,"
he said, "and I am already getting calls from them asking me who their
families should support and vote for."
He added, "I am the candidate not just of the P.C.C., which has had the
courage to rebel against the injustices practiced in the system, but of all
the thousands of prisoners in Brazil's prisons."
The new political organization is to be called the Party of the Incarcerated
Community, whose initials would also be P.C.C. Its secretary general is Júlio
César Silvério, who is serving six years for robbery and was described by
Mr. Maia as "dynamic and enlightened, an admirer of your Benjamin
Franklin." But the director of prisons for the state of São Paulo,
Nagashi Furukawa, has characterized the First City Command as a crime
syndicate that controls the trafficking of drugs, alcohol, weapons and
mobile telephones within the state prison system.
The authorities say the group also runs a flourishing "escape
industry" that has resulted in the flight of more than 1,000 prisoners
since 1998 and further enriched the group's coffers.
São Paulo, with more than 36 million of Brazil's 170 million people, is
Brazil's most populous state. Nearly 100,000 people, or just under half of
the national total, are being held in the state's jails and prisons. The
national government does not operate prisons.
In February the First City Command organized the largest prison rebellion in
the nation's history. Using cell phones smuggled into their cells, the
group's leaders ordered their followers in 29 prisons around the state to
take control of cellblocks and hold thousands of hostages. The uprising was
meant to stop the authorities' actions to weaken the gang.
The two-day uprising left 19 people dead, most of them members of three
rival groups competing with the First City Command for control of São
Paulo's prisons. Since then, officials have tried to weaken the gang by
moving its leaders to prisons outside São Paulo, but some other states have
balked, arguing that the crime group could simply spread.
During the rebellion the group described itself as a prisoners' union and
hung banners calling for "peace, justice and freedom" from cell
windows and roofs. In August it published a political manifesto condemning a
political system that in Mr. Maia's words "offers the benefits of the
law for the rich and its rigors for the poor."
The local press has quickly christened Mr. Maia "the candidate of
organized crime," but he says he does not mind the association with the
First City Command, which he likens to "a club or a guild."
He is so confident of victory in the October 2002 election, in fact, that he boasts that he has no plans to campaign or to spend money on posters, fliers or bumper stickers. "I figure that every prisoner has at least three people in his family who are voters," he said.
Extraído do "New York Times" de 09/09/01
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