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Carandiru Massacre, 1992

The Carandiru massacre was a massacre that took place after a police action in Carandiru. The Casa de Detenção de São Paulo, popularly known as Carandiru because it was located in the homonymous neighborhood of the city of São Paulo in the state of São Paulo, was a penitentiary located in the northern part of the capital. It took place on October 2, 1992, to contain an ongoing prisoner rebellion in one of the prison's Pavilions, resulting in the death of 111 inmates.

The massacre had international repercussions, not only in Brazil, where the state of Sao Paulo is located. On one hand, many criticized police violence and the fact that an expert report proved that the police used excessive force. 

But on the other hand, a part of the population thought it was fair because they saw the police action against the prisoners as a form of defense. Given all this, Colonel Ubiratan Guimarães, who was leading the operation, was condemned, but his sentence was soon reversed.

It all started because of a small fight between two inmates. These inmates were housed in Pavilion 9, as they were all first-time offenders. The fight started because of a rivalry between enemy criminal factions. The fight took a huge turn spreading throughout the entire pavilion and becoming a huge rebellion. The riot was marked by the destruction of the cells and the immense burning of mattresses by the inmates. 

The military police were called in to control the situation, and this pavilion consisted of 2706 prisoners. In total, the police sent 341 officers, heavily armed with high-caliber weapons, dogs, and bombs, because they were dealing with extremely out-of-control inmates of overwhelming violence. Official reports say that the police started the fight by opening fire on the detainees using submachine guns and rifles. By the end of the military police action, 111 inmates were killed and 110 wounded. Fortunately, there were no deaths among the police. And so the rebellion in Carandiru came to an end. 

This event is considered to be the most lethal ever inside a Brazilian penitentiary. With such violence, it shocked many people who criticized the human rights institutions. The criticism was directed at both the Sao Paulo government and the police. An investigation into the case was opened and authorized by the Secretary of Public Security Pedro Franco de Campos, but in the end, it turned into nothing and was absorbed. After this repercussion of part of society against the police, another half of the people came out in defense of the police and new discussions started that have lasted for years until today.

But as every action reacts to the fact, the consequences were countless. Starting with the international repercussions, directly affecting Brazil and the rest of the world. The country was denounced by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Brazilian government claimed that the massacre would be investigated and that the guilty would be held responsible. However, those responsible for the massacre were not punished for the crime after sad years. 

The consequences didn't stop there; Carandiru was deactivated ten years later in 2002, and most of the buildings that made up the penitentiary were destroyed. The Sao Paulo state security secretary was fired, at the time it was Pedro Franco, and in his place was appointed Michel Temer. The massacre also changed the formation of the police and modified the state prison system, increasing the number of penitentiaries to minimize the overcrowding of existing prisons. Although experts say that this event generated a negative generation in organized crime in Sao Paulo, leading to the rise of the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), one of the most dangerous criminal factions in the world. 

After thirty years, the trial is still going on against the policemen. In all, 73 policemen were convicted for more than 100 murders. The sentences reached more than 600 years in prison, but in 2016, the sentences of these policemen were overturned. Again in 2022, the conviction resumed and is being judged by the STF (Supreme Federal Court) and these policemen continue to respond to the process of freedom. Ja about the colonel, after it was revealed that his sentence was reversed, he was found dead days later in his apartment.

Edited by: Palak Chauhan


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