Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Brazil court favours indigenous groups in land dispute

August 17, 2017

The Supreme Court rules against Brazilian state seeking compensation for land that had been declared as tribal reserves.

Image result for Brazilian indigenous people, photos

Brazilian indigenous activists celebrated on Wednesday after the Supreme Court ruled against a state seeking compensation for land that had been declared tribal reserves.

The ruling against Mato Grosso state in western Brazil was seen as a victory for indigenous rights in the face of constant pressure from the powerful agricultural lobby.

The state had argued that the tribal reserves were created out of its land, but the court rejected this 8-0, saying that the territory had long belonged to the native peoples.

“It was a positive result, maintaining the land borders that had been under question,” Raphaela Lopes, a lawyer for the activist group Justica Global, told AFP news agency.

READ MORE: Life for Brazil’s Krenak after Fundao dam collapse

Another case, which involved a controversial bid to reinterpret a constitutional protection for native lands, was shelved when the government department for indigenous affairs, FUNAI, asked for more time to introduce new material.

Brazil’s 1988 constitution guarantees tribes ownership of ancestral lands. But under a proposal being studied by the Supreme Court, the guarantee would not apply to land unoccupied prior to the law coming into effect that year.

The court’s decisions left indigenous protesters outside happy.

Tribal leaders had promised a demonstration of at least 2,000 people in Brasilia, but in the end, just a few dozen showed up.

There had been concerns about the possibility of a repeat of violent clashes that occurred in April, during which riot police fired tear gas at thousands of tribesmen in traditional headgear and paint – and armed with bows and arrows – outside congress.

Al Jazeera’s David Schweimler, reporting from Brasilia, said it was a “rare victory” for Brazil’s indigenous people who had travelled from across the vast country to the capital to protest at the Supreme Court.

“They won that victory, but their fight is by no means over. They still face a threat from big business, from agro-business, from soya farmers, from people trying to de-forest their land,” he said.

“It’s the same fight they say they’ve been fighting since the arrival of the first European settlers more than 500 years ago.”

Tribal lands under pressure

At issue is ownership of swaths of ancestral tribal lands, much of it in the Amazon, where Brazil’s powerful agricultural industry wants to expand soy, cattle, sugar cane and other commodity farming.

“The indigenous people in Brazil are threatened by the absence of demarcation of their territories,” said Lindomar Ferreira, leader of the Terena ethnic group outside the Supreme Court.

Indigenous communities claim that their way of life has increasingly come under fire during the administration of President Michel Temer.

Last month, Temer signed a recommendation to block the demarcation of any land on which indigenous people were not living by 1988, the year of Brazil’s latest constitution.

OPINION: Will Brazil be the next Venezuela?

Indigenous advocates rejected the proposal, arguing that many native communities had been violently forced from their lands before that date. They accuse Temer of signing the recommendation to cater to the interests of the powerful agribusiness bloc in congress whom he depends on to stay in power.

There are more than 700 requests for the demarcation of indigenous land pending and Temer has not signed one of them during his 16 months in power.

Nearly 900,000 indigenous tribe members currently live in Brazil, or 0.4 percent of the entire population, divided into 305 ethnic groups. Indigenous lands cover 12 percent of Brazil.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Brazil: Police and Military continue large-scale crackdown on crime in Rio de Janeiro

August 16, 2017


© AFP/File | Police and troops are involved in a large-scale crackdown on crime in Rio de Janeiro
RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Police backed by army troops swooped on one of Rio de Janeiro’s main suburbs Wednesday in the latest large-scale crackdown against crime in the increasingly violent city, authorities said.

The operation was launched at 5:00 am (0800 GMT) in Niteroi, across the Bay of Guanabara from Rio, which hosted the Olympics exactly a year ago, but is now in the grip of a crime wave.

“The civil and military police, supported by the armed forces, launched a public security operation at dawn today,” the Rio state security office said in a statement.

Officials said the army, called in last month by President Michel Temer to prop up the struggling police force, was “responsible for perimeters in some communities in the region and is stationed at strategic points.”

Earlier this month, a similar operation was carried out in northern Rio to try to clamp down on gangs responsible for a wave of truck hijackings.

Rio was the first South American city to host the Olympics and although the event passed off smoothly, a mixture of corruption scandals, near collapse in the state budget and crime has combined into a serious hangover for what should be one of Brazil’s richest regions.

In the first half of this year Rio tallied 3,457 homicides, the highest level of violence since 2009 and 15 percent more than during the same period in 2016. So far this year, 97 policeman have been killed in the state.

S&P says won’t downgrade Brazil credit ratings — for now

August 16, 2017


© AFP/File | International credit rating agency Standard and Poors said Wednesday that it has decided not to downgrade Brazil’s sovereign ratings for the time being
PARIS (AFP) – International credit rating agency Standard and Poors said Wednesday that it has decided not to downgrade Brazil’s sovereign ratings for the time being, but may well do so next year if Latin America’s biggest economy does not sufficiently tackle its debt.

S&P Global Ratings said in a statement it had removed Brazil from its CreditWatch list, “where we had placed them with negative implications on May 22, 2017”.

Brazil’s long-term sovereign debt is currently rated “BB”, which is non-investment grade or “junk”, but S&P had placed it on a list for possible downgrade after president Michel Temer was nearly ousted in a corruption scandal.

Since then, however, “the political landscape is somewhat more settled as President Temer survived a vote — by the Federal Electoral Court (TSE) in June and by Congress in August — related to corruption charges,” the rating agency said.

“Meanwhile, the economy appears to have stabilized despite fluid politics, Congress passed a labour reform in July, and the government remains committed to advancing some pension reform,” it continued.

Nevertheless, S&P said it would keep the “negative” outlook on Brazil’s ratings.

That “reflects ongoing political challenges and the risk of a downgrade over the next six to nine months — given Brazil’s high and rising debt burden — should Congress fail to advance legislation that begins to reduce Brazil’s fiscal rigidities, which hinder deficit reduction and sustained moderation in spending growth,” it argued.

Brazil’s finance minister, Henrique Meirelles, said Tuesday that the government was raising its deficit ceiling for this year and 2018 because of a big drop in tax revenue, sluggish growth and other woes in Latin America’s biggest economy.

Brazil set for landmark indigenous land rights ruling — A wrong ruling “would just be a continuation of the massacre of indigenous people in Brazil”

August 16, 2017

Al Jazeera

A ruling on the right to three territories could have far reaching consequences for indigenous people across Brazil.

Judges will decide whether to apply a time limit on indigenous land demarcations [File: Christophe Simon/AFP]

Brazil’s Supreme Court will decide this week on a landmark indigenous land rights ruling, against what activists and international bodies say is a backdrop of rising violence and diminishing rights for indigenous people in the country.

On Wednesday, the court will judge whether indigenous people will have the right to three territories – two in Mato Grosso state and one in Rio Grande do Sul – which experts say could have far reaching consequences for indigenous people across Brazil.

Judges will decide whether to apply a time limit on indigenous demarcations, the process by which indigenous people have legal protection to their land.

The ruling was signed by Brazil’s President Michel Temer last month and proposes to halt any demarcations of land on which indigenous people were not living before October 5, 1988 – when Brazil’s current constitution took effect.

OPINION: How Brazil’s progressive migration bill was sabotaged

“The fear is that if the Supreme Court applies this ruling in these three cases, it is going to massively set back the clock on indigenous rights,” Fiona Watson, campaign director at London based Survival International, told Al Jazeera.

Experts and indigenous groups have blasted the proposed ruling, saying that tens of thousands of indigenous people were forced from their lands before 1988, often under threat of violence.

Many were expelled from their land during Brazil’s 1964 to 1985 right-wing military dictatorship to make way for infrastructure projects and farmland. Today, hundreds of indigenous territories are currently awaiting demarcation.

Indigenous people’s right to land in enshrined in Brazil’s constitution but is rarely respected, and the vast majority of violence against indigenous people in Brazil happens because of disputes over land.

‘Clearly violates the constitution’

Legal experts have blasted the move as unconstitutional, pointing out that in Brazil’s constitution indigenous people have the original right to land with no reference of deadlines for territories to be occupied.

“The ruling clearly violates the constitution,” Luciano Mariz Maia, a prosecutor working with indigenous issues at Brazil’s Prosecutor General’s Office, told Al Jazeera – adding that the ruling is advisory and judges are not obliged to follow it.

Indigenous advocacy groups say that, if approved, the ruling could lead to increased violence against indigenous people in Brazil.

“This ruling legitimises the violence that indigenous people in Brazil have historically suffered,” said Gilberto Vieira dos Santos, deputy secretary at Brazil’s indigenous Missionary Council which is connected to the Catholic Church.

“If this ruling is approved, we will certainly have more invasions of indigenous land,” he told Al Jazeera. “It sets a precedent of not recognising the territorial rights of the indigenous people.”

In June this year, United Nations and inter-American experts warned that indigenous and environmental rights were under attack in Brazil, especially regarding land demarcations.

The warning followed just a month after members of the Gamela tribe in Maranhao were attacked with machetes and rifles in a bloody land dispute.

Killings of environmental and land defenders, including indigenous people, have soared this year. Watchdog group CPT recorded 37 killings connected to land conflict in the first six months of 2017, one-third higher than in 2016.

Protecting small rural producers

Proponents of the ruling, however, say it gives legal protection to small rural producers, many of whom have held land titles for decades but could be forced to abandon their land when it is demarcated to indigenous people.

“There are families that have had land titles for 100 years. The right to property cannot be changed because of an anthropological report,” congressman Luis Carlos Heinze, one of the most vocal supporters of the ruling, told Al Jazeera by phone.

“They can’t be penalised because someone thinks that 100 years ago, 200 years ago there were Indians there,” he added. “Those who produce in Brazil, agriculture, industry, services, they need legal protection.”

Heinze, elected by Rio Grande do Sul state in southern Brazil – home to one of the indigenous territories that the ruling could be applied to on Wednesday – said that he believes as many as 90 percent of the hundreds of demarcation processes are irregular or fraudulent.

READ MORE: Life for Brazil’s Krenak after Fundao dam collapse

But indigenous advocates accuse Temer of signing the ruling to please a powerful agriculture caucus in congress, two weeks before he faced a congressional vote that could have removed him for corruption. He survived the vote with heavy support from the agriculture caucus.

Brazilian indigenous organisations have planned protests in the capital Brasilia on the day of the judges’ ruling.

“This ruling would just be a continuation of the massacre of indigenous people in Brazil,” said Tonico Benites, a spokesman for the Guarani Kaiowa indigenous tribe, who was in Brasilia to protest.

Source: Al Jazeera News

Fugitive Brazil singer held in Paris over deadly fight

August 15, 2017

BBC News

Wanted poster issued by Rio police showing Valterson Ferreria Cantuaria (third from left) and three other suspects
Rio police have been searching for four suspects in connection with the death of Matías Sebastian Carena. RIO POICE

French police have arrested Brazilian singer Valterson Ferreira Cantuaria in Paris in connection with a deadly fight.

The singer, better known by his stage name Toddy Cantuaria, is suspected of punching an Argentine tourist outside a nightclub in Rio de Janeiro in March.

The tourist, 28-year-old Matías Sebastian Carena, fell to the ground and hit his head.

He later died of the head injuries he had sustained as a result of the fight.

Rio police suspect Mr Cantuaria of delivering the blow which knocked Mr Carena out.

The punch-up in the fashionable Ipanema area of the city was captured on CCTV.

Local media reported at the time that the fight had broken out in a nightclub over the price of cocktails.

The CCTV footage shows a man punching Mr Carena, who falls to the ground. Another kicks him, while a third hits him with a crutch.

Rio police issued arrest warrants for four suspects, among them Mr Cantuaria, who was part of Brazilian band Karametade.

Before he could be arrested, Mr Cantuaria fled to Madrid and from there to Paris.

Mr Cantuaria is expected to be extradited to Brazil soon where he will go on trial and could face up to 30 years in prison if found guilty.

US Vice President Mike Pence Starts Latin American “Reassurance Tour” — Following President Donald Trump’s threat of a possible “military option” against Venezuela

August 13, 2017


© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | US Vice President Mike Pence’s tour would be dominated by the crisis in Venezuela and how US “partners and friends” were looking to the “future” regarding that country, while others were stuck in the “past,” a senior US administration official said

BOGOTA (AFP) – US Vice President Mike Pence launches a Latin America tour Sunday that has taken on new significance following President Donald Trump’s threat of a possible “military option” against Venezuela.

The weeklong trip, aimed at coordinating a regional diplomatic action to the political crisis in Caracas, begins in Colombia, a strong US ally that takes hundreds of millions of dollars a year in funding from Washington and which has little liking for leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The other stops were Argentina, Chile and Panama.

The tour would be dominated by the crisis in Venezuela and how US “partners and friends” were looking to the “future” regarding that country, while others were stuck in the “past,” a senior US administration official said.

“We’ve been firm in both word and deed against the Maduro regime, and it’s important to get others in the region. And these four countries have, but we want to continue to put the pressure on the Maduro regime,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity.

“We’ll talk to economic options, diplomatic options — every tool that’s available. It’s not only the United States putting forth pressure on Maduro, but that he’s getting it from all sides of the region as well.”

But, thanks to Trump’s warning on Friday that he was considering various measures to tackle Venezuela “including a possible military option if necessary,” Latin American nations — including those who are scolding Caracas for “breaking democratic rule” — are united against the use of American force.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru all issued messages rejecting such a step.

– Bitter memories –

For many Latin American countries, bitter memories of past US military adventures in the region have resurfaced as a result — including the 1989 invasion of Panama to topple and capture its leader, Manuel Noriega — as well as CIA involvement in bloody guerrilla and counter-guerrilla campaigns, and Washington’s propping up of military dictators.

The United States has slapped sanctions on Maduro — an extremely rare punishment against a head of state — as well as two dozen of his officials.

The measures were for the establishment of a new assembly of Maduro loyalists that bypasses the legislature controlled by opposition. The body, which started work this month, has set about clamping down on dissent and opposition politicians.

With Trump’s threat of possible military action, Maduro’s regime has intensified arguments that the United States is plotting with the opposition to oust the president and grab Venezuela’s oil reserves, the largest in the world.

It also said the threat was not just against it, but against all of Latin America.

“The reckless threat by President Donald Trump aims to drag Latin America and the Caribbean into a conflict that would permanently alter stability, peace and security in our region,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told a news conference on Saturday.

The defense minister, General Vladimir Padrino, called Trump’s talk “craziness.”

– Force rejected –

Leftist allies Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua have backed Venezuela in a confrontation against its “imperialist” foe.

Other Latin American nations strongly opposed to Venezuela’s political move have also condemned the prospect of the US military being deployed to impose Washington’s will.

“The repudiation of violence and whatever option involving the use of force is resolute and constitutes a fundamental basis of democratic cohabitation, both in domestic contexts as well as in international relations,” Brazil’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The crisis in Venezuela can’t be resolved through military actions, internally or externally,” Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray wrote on Twitter.

Brazil President Weakened by Graft Charge, Losing Fiscal Battle

August 12, 2017

Aug. 11, 2017, at 3:29 p.m.


Image may contain: 1 person, sky and closeup

Brazil’s President Michel Temer reacts during a ceremony in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto REUTERS

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Michel Temer has burned through political capital fighting corruption charges and is struggling to push forward his economic agenda meant to rein in a gaping budget deficit.

Even allies in Congress now doubt he can achieve anything but watered-down measures, likely delaying any fix to Brazil’s fiscal crisis until the economy recovers from deep recession.

With continued deficits, Brazil risks further downgrades in its credit rating. It lost its investment grade two years ago, adding to the cost of financing mounting public debt.

In a sign of Temer’s failure to restore fiscal health, the government is expected to revise upward its 2017 and 2018 deficit targets on Monday due to falling tax revenues in an economy that is barely growing.

More pessimistic analysts worry the insolvency already faced by some Brazilian states that cannot pay employees or provide basic services will reach the federal government.

Temer had a window to pass a pension overhaul earlier this year, but it closed in May when allegations emerged that he condoned bribes in a taped conversation with the then CEO of the world’s largest meatpacker JBS S.A..”We are dancing samba at the edge of the precipice,” said Sao Paulo-based wealth manager Fabio Knijnik. “I don’t see the political class at all concerned with resolving this.”

The deeply unpopular president won enough backing in Congress on Aug. 2 to block a corruption charge that could have led to his suspension pending trial by the Supreme Court. To survive, he approved about $1.5 billion in pork barrel spending to keep lawmakers happy.

His closest ally in Congress, the center-right Democrats Party of Speaker Rodrigo Maia, does not believe Temer has the 308 votes, or three-fifths of the lower chamber, needed to pass pension reform, the key measure in his fiscal rescue plan.

Speaking in Rio on Friday, Maia said Temer’s political troubles and lower-than-expected tax revenues had created the crisis. He said Brazil had no alternative but to seek whatever pension fix it could, given Congress would not raise taxes.

Congressman Efraim Filho, the Democrats whip, told Reuters Temer must dilute the pension bill to get it past Congress. He said the measure had to be stripped down to its most important provision, a minimum age for retirement of 65 years for men and 63 for women in a country where people only work on average until age 54.


Temer’s government coalition is in disarray. Parties who stood by the president are now demanding they be rewarded with cabinet positions, such as the big-budget Cities Ministry. It is now controlled by the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), which split over whether to abandon the scandal-plagued president.

Until they get their way, the allies at the core of his coalition have said they will not put his proposed pension bill to the vote. Maia said the “climate” was not right to move to a floor vote and the bill could languish and miss a legislative window likely to close in December as an election year approaches in 2018.

The government has already made concessions on the pension bill provisions that will reduce planned fiscal savings by up to 25 percent in 10 years and nearly 30 percent in 30 years, according to Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles.

The pension overhaul is vital for Brazil to comply with a 20-year spending cap that was Temer’s first move to restore fiscal discipline, albeit without a full impact on accounts until 2019.

“That ceiling was like saying you are going on a diet two years from now,” said Daniel Freifeld of Callaway Capital, a Washington D.C.-based investment firm.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Peru Fears Venezuela Headed Toward Civil War: Foreign Minister

August 10, 2017

LIMA — Peru fears Venezuela may be headed toward civil war as a political crisis deepens and its economy implodes under the rule of socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Peru’s foreign minister told Reuters on Wednesday.

Speaking a day after summoning his counterparts from across the region to Lima to condemn the “rupture of democratic order” in Venezuela, Ricardo Luna said Maduro’s support at home and abroad had shrunk as he seeks to consolidate power through the constituent assembly, a powerful new body run by the ruling Socialist Party loyalists.

Peru has been one of Venezuela’s harshest critics since centrist President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took office a year ago, replacing a former ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Luna called Maduro’s accusation that Kuczynski is conspiring with U.S. President Donald Trump “absurd.”

Peru’s concern, he said, is the humanitarian crisis that has already sent waves of Venezuelan refugees to neighboring nations, including some 40,000 to Peru in the past six months.

“Our fear is that you really have a low-intensity civil war, which would produce a humanitarian crisis of great proportions,” Luna said in an interview in his offices in Lima.

“It’s not necessarily going to happen, and it’s not easy to compare it to major crisis such as the one we have in Syria. But it is a large country. It’s a complex situation. It’s something that’s been building in time,” Luna said.

More than 125 people have died in clashes in Venezuela since the opposition began sustained protests in April. On Sunday, Venezuelan authorities quelled an attack on a military base by soldiers and armed civilians, killing two of them in a dramatic escalation of unrest.

Luna said Maduro’s “autocracy” does not appear to have sufficient support among Venezuelans to hold on to power for several decades as Cuba’s government has, and it may not be long before the oil-producing country’s economy collapses completely.

“The last leg can last weeks, months, or even half a year. Not more than that,” Luna said.

Peru is evaluating new ways to pressure Venezuela to enact democratic reforms, including expelling Venezuela’s ambassador from Peru or reducing Peru’s diplomatic presence in Venezuela, Luna said.

While Maduro might shrug off the Lima Declaration signed by 12 nations on Tuesday, including Canada, Brazil and Mexico, the collective condemnation sends a signal to the world that most in the region no longer sees Venezuela as a democracy, Luna said.

The new bloc plans to meet to discuss Venezuela again at the United Nations General Assembly.

(Reporting By Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino; Editing by Michael Perry)

Brazil: President Michel Temer accuses chief prosecutor of bias

August 9, 2017

Lawyers defending Brazilian President Michel Temer against allegations of corruption have asked the Supreme Court to remove the attorney general from the investigation. Tension between the two has been rising.

Brazil's President Michel Temer (Reuters/A. Machado)

President Michel Temer’s defense team has accused the top prosecutor of bias in the ongoing investigation into the president, asking for him to be removed.

Temer’s lawyers said Brazil’s Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, who has charged the president (seen above) with taking bribes, was acting “beyond his constitutional limits.”

Read more: Rio’s Olympic legacy: Corruption and people power

Rodrigo Janot (picture alliance/dpa/A.Machado)Temer’s lawyers have alleged that Janot (photo) has a personal vendetta against the president

The lawyers lodged a petition demanding that another prosecutor take Janot’s place. Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin, a judge with the Supreme Federal Tribunal, will be reviewing the petition.

There is no set timeline for a decision. However, Janot’s post is due to end on September 17 when the new chief prosecutor takes over the post. Therefore, it may be likely that the Supreme Court justice will just wait.

“The motivation, it seems, is personal,” the petition read. “We are witnessing obsessive, persecutory conduct.”

Janot has alleged that Temer arranged to eventually receive a total of 38 million reais ($12.14 million/10.4 million euros) from the world’s largest meatpacker JBS SA.

Unending corruption scandal

Tensions between Temer and Janot have risen in recent weeks after Janot filed an indictment in June accusing the president of corruption. Lawmakers decided last week, however, that the president would not stand trial on the bribery charge while still in office.

Under Brazil’s constitution, any criminal charges made against a president must be approved by two-thirds of the lower house of parliament, and only then can the Supreme Court decide whether to put a leader on trial.

Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva (Getty Images/AFP/M. Schincariol)Former President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva is one of many accused of involvement in the graft scandal

Janot could still try to bring more charges against Temer before he steps down in September. Temer’s opponents hope a second or even third charge from Janot could be based on more solid evidence of Temer’s links to political bribes, pushing lawmakers to vote against protecting Temer from a trial.

Temer is Brazil’s first sitting president to face formal corruption charges. The case against the president is part of an unprecedented anti-corruption push that Brazil’s federal police, prosecutors and some judges have been pursuing for over three years.

More than 100 people have been convicted in the case, including former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is currently appealing his conviction.

British family shot at in Brazil

August 7, 2017

A couple and their three children are attacked after they take a wrong turn at a resort about 90 miles from Rio de Janeiro.

06:07, UK, Monday 07 August 2017


Image may contain: sky, mountain, outdoor, nature and waterImage: The Angra dos Reis coastal area is a popular tourist destination about 90 miles from Rio

By Damien Pearse, News Reporter

A British mother has been shot in front of her three children while holidaying in Brazil.

The woman and her family were travelling in Angra dos Reis, a coastal resort, about 90 miles from Rio de Janeiro, when they were attacked.

Brazilian police said a group approached the family’s car on Sunday and apparently told them to get out – and then opened fire.

Brazil’s O Globo newspaper said the family had gone into a deprived area to search for water.

They were attacked when they failed to understand instructions to leave the area.

The mother was shot twice in the stomach, the paper said, and is undergoing surgery. Her husband and children were not injured.

Police did not give the woman’s condition, though it is not believed to be life-threatening.

The Foreign Office said it “is in touch with local authorities in Rio de Janeiro following reports of a British national being shot near the city”.

Tourists in Brazil have occasionally been attacked when they accidentally stray into slums, which are often controlled by criminal gangs.


British woman shot after family stray into Brazil favela

Family car with three children inside is fired on west of Rio after apparently misunderstanding drug gang’s orders

The British family mistakenly drove into a Brazilian slum looking to buy water, according to the local police chief.
 The British family mistakenly drove into a Brazilian slum looking to buy water, according to the local police chief. Photograph: Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

A British woman has been shot at a holiday hotspot near Rio after her family mistakenly drove into a favela, Brazilian media have reported.

The woman was hit twice in the abdomen, newspaper O Globo said, when the car she was in with her husband and three children was fired upon. The rest of the family were unhurt in Sunday’s incident.

The oldest of the three children in car was four years old, Rio newspaper O Dia reported.

Civil police said the family were travelling in Angra dos Reis – a popular coastal holiday destination about 150km (90 miles) west of Rio on the Costa Verde – when they were attacked. Authorities said a group approached the car and apparently told the family to get out before opening fire.

Local police chief Bruno Gilaberte told O Globo the family were trying to buy water when they were told to drive towards the the Água Santa – or holy water – community. “This whole confusion seems to have happened partly because of the language barrier,” he said. “They ended up driving towards the Água Santa community where they were challenged by criminals. Because they didn’t understand the order they received to leave the area, they just carried on and were shot at.”

Angra Dos Reis is a popular tourist area on Rio de Janeiro’s ‘Green Coast’.
 Angra Dos Reis is a popular tourist area on Rio de Janeiro’s ‘Green Coast’. Photograph: AGF/UIG via Getty Images

Newspaper O Dia said the area they entered was controlled by the Terceiro Comando Puro – or Pure Third Command – gang, which is one of the main drug factions in Rio de Janeiro.

The police statement said the woman was being treated at a hospital but did not give her condition. Police did not release a name or home town.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are in touch with the local authorities in Angra dos Reis, Brazil, following reports of the shooting of a British national.”

Tourists in Brazil have occasionally been attacked when they accidentally stray into slums, which are often controlled by criminal gangs.

Associated Press contributed to this report