Brazilian Gangs Are Enforcing Their Own Coronavirus Quarantine
Brazilian gangs are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, following their government’s failure to take action.
Across the world, millions of people are being told to stay indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In Brazil, however, President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the virus as a ‘fantasy’ and a ‘small flu’ – despite the fact it has so far infected 423,670 people worldwide and taken 18,923 lives at the time of writing.
As such, organised crime gangs are enforcing their own coronavirus quarantine in Rio de Janeiro, introducing a curfew for all residents in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Gangsters in Rio de Janeiro’s City of God – one of the most notorious favelas in the city, brought to attention in the 2002 film of the same name – blared a message to residents earlier this week, warning them to stick to the curfew.
According to Rio newspaper Extra, as per the New York Post, the message said:
We’re imposing a curfew because nobody is taking this seriously. Whoever is in the street screwing around or going for a walk will receive a corrective and serve as an example. Better to stay home doing nothing. The message has been given.
Gangs in Rio das Pedras, Muzema and Tijuquinha – other favelas in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Santa Catarina – issued their own message, enforcing a lockdown from 8pm on March 23 and stating, as per Brazilian news portal G1: ‘If the government won’t do the right thing, organised crime will.’
The gangs’ actions come as the country’s two largest cities, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, were placed under partial lockdown by municipal and state authorities. The governor of São Paulo, João Doria, declared a 15-day quarantine period, while Rio’s mayor, Marcello Crivella, ordered an indefinite shutdown of the city’s commerce and schools.
While these actions are certainly needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it isn’t enough for just two cities to make these enforcements. It needs to be country-wide and it needs to be now, especially considering the likelihood that coronavirus will spread rapidly in the packed, poorer favelas where nearly 12 million people live.
In spite of this, the country’s far-right President Bolsonaro yesterday denounced these extremely necessary measures, telling municipal and state authorities they ‘must abandon their scorched-earth ideas’.
In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday night, March 24, Bolsonaro undermined the desperate attempts to save lives, stating, as per The Guardian: ‘In my particular case, with my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus, I would have no reason to worry, I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just a little flu.’
He also claimed the situation in Italy – where there are 54,030 confirmed cases of the virus and 6,820 reported deaths – would not be repeated in Brazil because of its younger population and warmer climate.
This claim had already been proven false by the World Health Organization (WHO), who state ‘the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather’ – so not only are Bolsonaro’s claims extremely dangerous, they are also wrong.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by coronavirus and the families of those who have lost their lives.
It’s okay to not panic. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our coronavirus campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization on coronavirus, click here.