Ten days ago, a shooting in Paraisópolis, a favela in the southern part of São Paulo, interrupted a campaign activity of Tarcisio de Freitas, candidate for governor in the state of São Paulo for the Republican Party of Brazil. The episode was immediately labeled as an “attack” by Bolsonarists, mainly by Jovem Pan, a TV station linked to the Brazilian extreme right, which spent the day reporting the episode as a direct attack on the candidate’s motorcade.
Freitas, in his first press conference after the shooting, preferred not to use the word “attack,” fearful of how fragile the arguments were for such a conclusion. But he insisted on the version that he was the target of a military attack by Paraisópolis residents.
“It wasn’t an attempt on my life, it wasn’t a political attack, it wasn’t related to party politics. It was an attack in the sense that if you intimidate a person who is there visiting you, that is an attack,” said Freitas.
The statement was already in a different tone from the first tweet made by the Bolsonarist candidate, minutes after the shooting in Paraisópolis. “First of all, we are all fine. During visit to the 1st University Polo of Paraisópolis, we were attacked by criminals.”
Later, in an interview with journalists, São Paulo’s Public Security Secretary, João Camilo, carefully chose his words to refute the thesis of the attack, but also to not negatively impact Freitas’ candidacy which the current São Paulo state government, led by Rodrigo Garcia (PSDB) supports.
“No hypothesis can be dismissed, however, [with] the information that we have so far, I don’t consider that this goes against what the candidate himself commented [an attack], maybe [it was] noise with police presence, maybe intimidation,” said Camilo on the afternoon of October 17.
In its electoral program on October 17, the campaign of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) reiterated the thesis of the attack. “Candidate Tarcísio de Freitas and his team were attacked by criminals in Paraisópolis,” the campaign said.
On the same day, the vice-president of Bolsonaro’s ticket, Braga Netto, used the word “attack” to refer to the exchange of fire that occurred in the region. “You don’t enter a community like Alemão* without authorization from the drug traffickers. You have to talk to the traffickers beforehand, because even if the traffickers don’t attack, there may be shootings. Look at what happened with Tarcísio, he just suffered an attack.” The statement was made to Rede Vida.
The incident which could have been clarified easily, instead created more uncertainties and the campaign of Tarcisio de Freitas has the answers that could help shed light on the truth. In the middle of the electoral race, few days before voting, the Republican candidate’s team is seeking to bury the matter. But the doubts continue.
It was past 11:20 a.m., last October 17, when a shooting interrupted the campaign schedule of Tarcisio de Freitas at the University Center of Paraisópolis. Part of the population ran away in response to the shots, all the press went to the back of the unit, and the candidate’s team ducked into a room.
From then on, doubts remained. What is known is that Felipe Lima, 27, was murdered by a military policeman on Manoel Antônio Pinto Street, which is about 100 meters from the University Center of Paraisópolis. The victim had a record of residential burglary and armed robbery.
Brasil de Fato obtained the police report drawn up by the Civil Police at the 88th Police Station, which narrates the episode in Paraisópolis. In it, one of the police officers who participated in the operation states that Lieutenant Ronald Quintino Correa Camacho went to the street Manoel Antônio Pinto, where the young man’s body was and removed a list of objects from the scene, changing the crime scene before the police arrived.
“A holster, cell phone, watch, a pistol magazine, besides several cartridges and cases, which he collected at the scene, claiming that he did so, so that they would not be lost or stolen by people,” informs the military police officer in the police report.
For Benedito Mariano, a former São Paulo police officer, the police report puts the version of the attack in question. “It may have been a frame-up, it is very strange. There may have been cooperation from the policemen who were there. I think that this occurrence was not properly clarified. I have doubts if there was a shooting, it is urgent that the uniform body-cameras show up. Besides the police report, we also know that Tarcísio’s team asked that the images be erased.”
Also according to the police report, four men, on two motorcycles, passed in front of the Polo Universitário Paraisópolis two times. On the second occasion, they asked who had authorized the event. The police version of the report does not say what was the answer to the motorcyclists’ question.
Then, bursts of gunfire were heard in the area, according to the police report. The policemen went down to Manoel Antônio Pinto Street and exchanged shots with the four boys. Lima may have been killed by one of the officers who was in plain clothes.
Although the Military Police and Freitas’ security guards claimed that the motorcyclists were armed, no weapon was found at the scene or near Lima’s body. According to the delegate-general of the Civil Police, Osvaldo Nico Gonçalves, the weapons “may” have been taken by local residents.
The Abin agent
On October 25, a week after the episode, an audio released by Folha de São Paulo further weakened the hypothesis of the attack against Freitas. Marcos Andrade, Jovem Pan‘s cameraman, was allegedly forced to eras images that showed the shooting.
“Did you film the policemen shooting?”, asked the security guard. “No, not actually exchanging shots. I got the PM shooting in the air,” replies the cameraman. Then, the member of Freitas’ campaign orders, “You have to erase it.”
On Thursday, October 27, the Intercept Brazil revealed that the security guard is Fabrício Cardoso de Paiva, an agent of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin), who works for Freitas’ campaign.
Tarcisio de Freitas released a note in which he confirms the identity of the agent and states that Paiva is on leave from his position at Abin, without remuneration from the agency, and that he does not exercise any function on behalf of the agency.
In an interview with Folha de São Paulo, Marcos Andrade confirms that Paiva was armed and near Lima’s body. Although Freitas’ campaign disclosed that the Abin agent did not work on behalf of the agency, the camera reported that he used the agency’s credential.
“I take cover as far as a column. When I arrive to record this body and the motorcycle that is on the ground, a person arrives telling me not to record. When I go to the top, where the body and the motorcycle are lying, I see the guy that I had talked to about asking for reinforcement. I see him armed and wearing an Abin badge,” explained Andrade.
In a note, the Freitas campaign gave a version unrelated to the audio, completely ignoring the overwhelming evidence presented by Jovem Pan‘s cameraman. “There was never any impediment on the part of the campaign regarding this. Any statement that questions that is a lie.”
Research and debate
The impasse over the episode in Paraisópolis has damaged Freitas’ campaign, which is stagnating, trying to contain the disaster caused by the countless versions presented by the candidate’s team.
Ipec research, released October 26, shows that Freitas already appears technically tied with Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party, in the dispute for the São Paulo state government. The Republican candidate has 52% and the candidate from the Workers’ Party has 48%. The advantage has already been ten percentage points, 55% versus 45%, in favor of the Bolsonarist.
Members of Freitas’ campaign are concerned about Thursday’s debate on TV Globo. Fernando Haddad is likely to question the Republican candidate about the episode in Paraisópolis. The Bolsonarista’s answer could determine the course of the election in São Paulo.
This article was written by Igor Carvalho and originally published in Brasil de Fato.
*Alemão is a region in the city of Rio de Janeiro where Lula carried out a campaign activity