WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
1 Apr 2022 | Joint Statement

Brazil Must Guarantee the Safety and Security of Afro-Brazilian Leader Marcos Rezende

Versão em português

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the International Institute for Race and Equality, and the Washington Office on Brazil (WBO) urge Brazilian and U.S. authorities to guarantee the safety and security of Marcos Rezende of the Collective of Black Entities (Coletivo de Entidades Negras, CEN). A 25-year human rights veteran and Afro-Brazilian leader, Marcos is an alternate councilor in Salvador municipality, Bahia state, and a pre­ candidate for State Deputy for Bahia.

On February 2 7, Marcos recorded a video, later posting it on social media, of the police robbing a young Black man in his community of Solar do Unhao. Two days later, the military police executed three youths in the community of Gamboa, which is located near to Solar do Unhao. Marcos denounced that the massacre of these young Black people in this poor and peripheral region was carried out by Rondas Especiais (RONDESP), a special police force. Marcos was among several community leaders who denounced this massacre to the press and to international human rights organisms.

Due to the video and his denouncement of the massacre, the death threats and attacks against Marcos have reignited again. Sources in the Government of Bahia with access to privileged information have informed him that his life is at risk. His name has circulated in WhatsApp chats of defenders of the military and police stating: “Who are the leaders of Black movements, who supports these leaders? Where does the money that makes Black movements defend factions come from?”

On March 14, Marcos traveled to Washington, DC to meet with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the U.S. Congress to denounce police violence against Afro­ Brazilians. During his trip he met with WOLA, Race and Equality, and WBO. Since his return, he’s been forced into hiding to protect his life. Shortly upon the CEN delegation’s return, a death threat written on a random paper, without identification stating, “Justice arrives for all,” was placed under their headquarters in Santo Antonio Alem do Carmo.

Since the advent of Bolsonarismo in 2018, Marcos began to receive numerous death threats. These attacks intensified to the point that he was forced into exile outside of Brazil for a period of ten months. Marcos returned to Brazil to continue advocating for Afro­ Brazilian victims of police violence living in marginalized neighborhoods. At this point, he became a candidate in the municipal elections in Salvador where he was elected to become an alternative councilor for Salvador, Bahia.

We strongly urge U.S. policymakers, particularly Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, to urge the Brazilian government that it guarantee Marcos’ physical integrity and it ensure that CEN can continue to advocate for Afro-Brazilian rights without being harmed. U.S. policymakers should speak out against this attack and develop policy tools that help guarantee the safety and security of Afro­ Brazilians who are defending their communities from human rights violations.