President Michel Temer waited four long days to talk about the Amazonas prison riot. It was a massacre that ended with the slaughtering of 56 men. Still, the President chose not to speak right away. According to his senior aides, he didn’t want to bring this new crisis to a federal administration already mired in other difficult situations.
Temer announced a couple of emergency measures: the construction of new facilities, and the proposal to change Brazil’s penal code. We should mention that both are necessary. But what struck me in Temer’s speech was that he referred to Sunday’s massacre as “a dreadful accident.”
No, Mr. President, it was not an accident. Gang leaders butchered 56 men; many of them had their heads severed.
You can’t call that “an accident.”
Especially not after a 2015 report informed authorities that gang rivalry was a significant risk. It stated: “The power of the prison’s administration is limited, and officers are negligent.”
It is not an accident when the company that runs the prison is a major campaign donor to local politicians. Nor when prison officers take bribes to allow firearms to enter the prison.
Michel Temer masters Portuguese grammar like few others have. It’s rather a pity that his words are so empty. Waiting four days to address the crisis reveals what kind of leader he is. But after he uttered such words, I can’t help but think that perhaps he shouldn’t have said anything at all…