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Street children in Rio de Janeiro, sniffing shoemaker’s glue from plastic bags


As we know, Rio Janeiro has been elected to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in August and September this year. This right was granted by the 121st Session of the International Olympic Committee and won by 66 votes as against 32 votes won by Madrid, its final competitor in the bid to hold the games.

According to www.rio2016.com, one decisive factor in the election of Rio Janeiro to hold the Games was: “the fact that the Olympic Games had never been held in South America and the Brazillian people [are] well known worldwide for its special way of celebrating sport. Additionally, the International Olympic Committee understood what the power of transformation of these Games would mean to Rio, Brazil and South America. To the Olympic and Paralympic Movements this decision represented …. the possibility of inspiring 65 million youths under 18 years of age in Brazil and 180 in the whole continent.”

It is ironical that Brazil was elected to host the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, largely on the grounds of benefitting youths, when it is no secret that the systematic mass murder of children has been taking place on Brazil’s streets for decades. Between 1988 and 1991, in just 3 years, more than 7000 children were murdered in Brazil. This scale of murder really does amount to a “war on children”, and a book bearing this accurately descriptive title has been published by Gilberto Dimenstein: Brazil: War On Children, (1991).

The perpetrators of most, but not all, of these murders are death squads comprising of off-duty police officers. Theirs are the fingers that pull the triggers, but it is ordinary civilians – shop-keepers, restaurant owners who call them out – who hire them. The evil is entrenched in Brazillian Society. The media refers to the impunity of the death squads, together with the corruption of the policing and legal systems.  But what about the people who summon the death squads?

Following the Candelária Church massacre – the massacre of eight street children, the youngest of whom was 11 years old, outside the Candelaria Church in Rio on 23rd July 1993, a hotline was set up for information on the murders.  A great many calls were received expressing support for the murders, rather than offering information.

A number of sources, including Amnesty International, report the torture of street children, as well as sexual violence against them.  Apart from that, there are allegations regarding the harvesting of their organs.  The evil perpetrated against these children knows no bounds.

The question on the minds of charity-workers and others concerned with Brazillian street children has been: How is Brazil intending to “clean” its streets in preparation for the Olympics? What is the fate of the street children?

The answer can be found in a report published by the United Nations in October last year on the treatment of youth in a number of countries. Included in this report is an accusation that, as anticipated or feared by many, the Brazillian police were “killing street children to ‘clean the streets’ ahead of the Olympic Games…”  

These United Nations findings were reported in non-mainstream sources such as “Telesur”, but strangely, surfing the internet, I have not found them reported in mainstream British or CRN news sources. (Why would this be?) A UNICEF report published in July last year, states that the murder of children and teenagers has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

“In 2013, 10,500 homicides of adolescents were registered in Brazil, compared to 5,000 cases in 1993 – an increase of over 110 per cent.  In 2013, an average of 28 children and adolescents were killed every day, making Brazil the country with the second largest number of homicides of boys and girls under the age of 19 in the world.”    http://www.unicef.org/media/media_82554.html     (This report does not inform us on the nature of the murders, or how many of these were murders of street children by adults.)

The term genocide is employed to refer to the mass murder of a large groups of people characterized by being of a particular ethnic, national or religious group. There does not seem to be an equivalent term to refer to the mass murder of children. However, if any other kind of genocide were occurring in any country, would the “civilized world” be attending their Games?  Would they even be nominated today?  Notably, ahead of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, boycott movements protesting against the forthcoming Games on the grounds of Nazi Germany’s appalling human rights record failed, and the Games went ahead. This seems to have set a precedent!

Children who are unconnected to adults are politically the most insignificant group: without voices, without votes, without political representation. They are of no economic consequence, and therefore the world is not prepared to try to save their lives.

Before the Football Cup which took place in Brazil in 2013, the public were urged to contact social services to report any child abuse they may have witnessed. This may have served to some degree as a deterrent against sex tourism which many street children are objects of. But it seems the mass murders take place before the tourists arrive.

At the same time as the Olympic Games, the charity Street Child United will be hosting Street Child Games 2016 – including Street children from different countries, and a Street Child Congress. We can but hope that this will address the problem of the mass murder of Brazillian street children to some extent, although late in the day.  http://www.streetchildunited.org/street-child-games-2016/

Children continue to be murdered on the streets of Brazil.  If the world participates in the Olympics while this evil is still going on, surely this amounts to condoning this ongoing mass murder, torture and abuse of Brazillian street children.  This continuous atrocity which has spanned decades.  There is a fine line, if any, between condoning something, and complicity.  It is up to our governments and the International Olympic Committee, to put pressure on Brazil to ensure that children are safe; that there are appropriate consequences for crimes against them, and to put pressure on Brazil to tackle in a humane way the causes of child homelessness.


Two petitions were started up to protect street children in Brazil ahead of the Olympics. One achieved 7 signatures:

The other achieved 8 signatures and was closed:

A petition demanding that the FA boycott the 2014 World Cup because of the mass-killing of street children achieved 3 signatures and was archived.

However, a petition to protect stray dogs in Brazil ahead of the World Cup achieved 84,424 signatures.

There is still this petition which has only received 300 signatures to date.  It is too late for the World Cup, but not too late to save some lives before, during and after the Olympics:



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