REF: (A) SAO PAULO 215; (B) BRASILIA 496; (C) 05 SAO PAULO 975; (D) SAO PAULO 742 SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY. ¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The police commander who was in charge of operations during the infamous 1992 police massacre of inmates at Sao Paulo's Carandiru Prison was found dead in his apartment on Sunday night, September 10. Early reports indicate that Ubiratan Guimaraes, who retired from the police force and had became a state legislator, was shot once through the chest by someone who seemed to have fairly easy access to his home in an upscale neighborhood of Sao Paulo. While police officials say they cannot rule out any possible motive for the crime, the governor dismissed the notion that the murder was linked to organized crime, an implied reference to the prison gang PCC, which is thought to have carried out the assassination last

October of the man who was warden at Carandiru at the time of the massacre. The murder could have been a crime of passion or even a random act of violence, but regardless, it has forced to the surface of Brazilian consciousness yet again the massacre for which no one has ever truly been held accountable. END SUMMARY. --------------------------------------------------CONTROVERSIAL COP AVOIDED PRISON, DIES MYSTERIOUSLY --------------------------------------------------¶2. (U) Sao Paulo state legislator Ubiratan Guimaraes was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the chest late Sunday night, September 10, in his apartment in the upscale neighborhood of Jardins Paulista (several blocks from the former site of the Consulate). Guimaraes was well known in Brazil as the Military Police colonel who was in charge of the operation to quell a prison riot in Sao Paulo's Carandiru Prison in October 1992 (reftels). To end the standoff in the prison, 362 Military Police "shock troops" entered the prison and fired at inmates practically indiscriminately, even at those cowering in cells. 111 prisoners were killed. Subsequent police attempts to hide or alter evidence, downplay the incident and to mislead the public regarding the actual number of inmates killed, led to worldwide condemnation of the operation as a human rights violation. The massacre at Carandiru also became a rallying cry for prisoners decrying conditions in Sao Paulo state prisons, and was the catalyst for the formation of the state's notorious prison-based organized crime gang, the First Capital Command

(PCC) (ref C). ¶3. (SBU) The state closed and eventually imploded Carandiru Prison, but no one has ever been held truly accountable for the massacre. In 2001, Guimaraes was found responsible for 102 deaths and was sentenced to 632 years in prison. However, he was released from custody pending an appeal, and in February 2006 a state high court reversed the conviction and absolved him of any wrongdoing (ref A), which drew the wrath of the international human rights community once again. In a twist on conventional logic, Guimaraes' lawyer told Embassy Poloff that it would have been a human rights violation had the courts condemned Guimaraes, because he had simply followed orders from state and municipal leaders in launching the assault on the prison, and because he had been injured by an exploding gas canister in the opening minutes of the operation and was essentially incapacitated -and thus not in direct command -- during the ensuing melee (ref B). Guimaraes' lawyer insisted that her client had been a scapegoat of the government and of the press for 14 years. ¶4. (U) After retiring from the Military Police, Guimaraes successfully ran for state legislature, ironically using the electoral number 111, which coincided with the number of prisoners killed at Carandiru Prison during the massacre for which he claimed no responsibility (NOTE: Brazilian candidates are identified on the ballot by a series of numbers representing their party affiliation and their personal identification. Campaign pamphlets, posters and television ads usually

include the candidate's face, name and electoral numbers. END NOTE.) Guimaraes insisted that he chose the numbers not to associate himself with Carandiru, but because 111 was the number of the horse he rode while part of a police cavalry unit earlier in his 34-year police career. ¶5. (U) At the time of his death, Guimaraes was in the midst of a re-election campaign and had attended a political event on Saturday afternoon, September 9. At least one local commentator has opined that he would have retained his seat easily. Police believe he was killed late Saturday or early Sunday based on "informal" testimony from Guimaraes' girlfriend, a Sao Paulo attorney and the last person to see him alive, as well as from initial interviews with neighbors and building employees, and evidence at the crime scene. Police say there were no signs of struggle in the apartment, but the back door was left ajar. Guimaraes appears to have been in his living room when he was shot once in the chest from approximately a meter away. He was found wearing only a bath towel wrapped around his waist. By Monday evening, September 11, police said they had not yet determined the caliber of bullet that killed Guimaraes, but admitted that a .38 revolver belonging to him was missing from the apartment, even as they found several other firearms that he owned. As is customary in Brazil, Guimaraes was buried by his family on Monday, September 11, within 24 hours of the discovery of his death. Police say their investigation is ongoing, and they will conduct further witness interviews.

-----------------------RETRIBUTION, OR PASSION? -----------------------¶6. (U) Investigating police commanders said on Monday that they could not rule out any possible motive or scenario behind the murder, including an act of revenge for Guimaraes' role in the Carandiru massacre, or an act of passion. Guimaraes' girlfriend apparently admitted to the police that the couple had argued just before she left his apartment Saturday evening. The fight reportedly started after he received a telephone call from another woman. ¶7. (SBU) Sao Paulo Governor Claudio Lembo publicly dismissed the theory that the murder was connected to organized crime. A link to the PCC is easy to surmise because the gang is thought to have assassinated Jose Ismael Pedrosa -- the warden at Carandiru at the time of the massacre -- in October 2005. The PCC is known to carry out murders as acts of retribution. For example, the PCC orchestrated the systematic killings of six prison guards on their own doorsteps over the course of a week this past June (ref D), in part as retribution for police and prison crack-downs. It is also a PCC modus operandi to commit acts of violence, including assassinations, on or near dates of importance to the organization. The massacre at Carandiru occurred on October 2, 1992, which likely explains the timing of Pedrosa's murder last year.

--------------------------------------ALWAYS UNDER THREAT, ALWAYS THREATENING --------------------------------------¶8. (U) Guimaraes was said to have lived with near-constant death threats throughout the 14 years since Carandiru. Yet he never hired security for his personal protection. Instead, he was known to have carried a .38 revolver at most times, including during legislative sessions. He was a strong opponent of various efforts to restrict gun ownership in Brazil, and was associated with the "Bench of Bullets," a group of statelegislators committed to strong anti-crime measures. ¶9. (SBU) COMMENT: To the bitter end, Guimaraes claimed he had a clear conscience in regard to the events at Carandiru in 1992. And even though he chafed against the moniker "the Colonel of Carandiru" and its implication for his legacy, in some ways his political persona seemed tied to that identity, and he maintained that a majority of Brazilians considered him a hero for his police service. During the recent PCC attacks (ref D), he noted ironically and somewhat bitterly that the human rights organizations that vilified him seemed to fall silent once police officers, prison guards and public spaces like city buses became targets of the gang's violence. If his death is linked to the PCC, it will once again demonstrate the reach and resolve of that criminal organization. But regardless of who committed the murder and why, the legacy of Carindiru will not be buried with Guimaraes; no government official has ever been

held accountable for the massacre, even as more than 80 police officers still face charges stemming from the now 14-year old infamous event. END COMMENT. ¶10. (U) This cable Embassy Brasilia. MCMULLEN (Edited and reading.) reformatted by Andres for ease of was coordinated/cleared by

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful