Carandiru massacre

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Carandiru massacre
Ato em lembrança aos 111 mortos no massacre do Carandiru.jpg
Act in memoriam of 111 prisoners dead in the incident
LocationCarandiru Penitentiary
Date2 October 1992; 30 years ago (1992-10-02)
PerpetratorsMilitary police
MotivePrison riot

The Carandiru massacre (Portuguese: Massacre do Carandiru, Portuguese: [mɐˈsakɾi du kɐɾɐ̃dʒiˈɾu]) occurred on Friday, 2 October 1992, in Carandiru Penitentiary in São Paulo, Brazil, when military police stormed the penitentiary following a prison riot. The massacre, which left 111 prisoners dead, is considered by many people to be a major human rights violation.[1]


The incident was started by a prisoner revolt. At around 1:30 P.M., the prison director, Dr. José Ismael Pedrosa, was warned that a fight had started between two groups in cell block 9 after a football match. The groups were led by the inmates Luiz Tavares de Azevedo, known as "Coelho", and Antonio Luiz Nascimento, known as "Barba".[2] The fight then escalated into a prison riot that lasted three hours. Prisoners were reportedly attacking each other with knives and pipes.[3] The conflict consisted of 2,069 prisoners against 15 guards, resulting in the guards quickly losing control of the prisoners.[4] Around 2:15 P.M., the prison director informed the local military police about the uprising. Colonel Ubiratan Guimarães of the PMESP mobilized the Shock Police battalions, and after a phone call with the Secretary of Public Security, Pedro Franco de Campos, gave the order for an incursion of 341[5] policemen into the prison complex.[2][6] The prison director attempted to negotiate with the prisoners using a megaphone, but was pushed aside by the storming military police forces.[7]

The deaths took place in the first four floors of cell block 9. In the first two floors, an incursion by ROTA policemen led to 15 deaths in the first floor and 78 deaths in the second floor. In the third floor, a COE incursion led to 8 deaths, and in the fourth, a GATE incursion led to 10 deaths.[2][8]

In a documentary by the police content creator Elias Junior, ROTA officers who took part in the 2nd floor massacre defended their actions by stating that riot police units were unable to advance due to firearms being employed by the rebellious inmates, and that prisoners had attempted to infect the policemen with HIV using body fluids.[9][10] In a 2013 testimony, former ROTA Colonel Valter Alves Mendonça described coming across a decapitated body, having fired his weapon after feeling impacts on his ballistic shield, and that prisoners armed with blades got into hand to hand combat with his unit. He also described ROTA as a "priesthood" by the end of his testimony.[11]

The facility was a detention center, not a penitentiary, meaning that the inmates had not yet been tried or convicted.[12] By the end of the day, 111 prisoners were dead; and 37 more were injured. A 2022 Deutsche Welle article states that 3,500 bullets were fired within the span of 20 minutes,[5] whilst a 1993 Amnesty report states that of some 5,000 bullets that were fired, 515 were found in dead prisoners' bodies.[7] Hands among the dead were found in front of the face or behind the head suggesting defensive positions.[7] No policemen were injured.[13]


The country was in major shock from the massacre. The case was brought before the inter-American Commission by The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Teotônio Vilela Commission for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch; all of them in 2000, eight years after the massacre, condemned Brazil for it.[14] In 2013, hundreds of people attended a multi-faith vigil in São Paulo in memoriam of those killed in the massacre. Relatives of those killed and human rights activists have both demanded and appealed for justice.[15] The vigil and pleas for justice led to several trials for the officers involved in the massacre that same year.[15]

In 2001, the commanding officer of the operation, Colonel Ubiratan Guimarães, was initially sentenced to 632 years in prison for his mishandling of the rebellion and the subsequent massacre, but was allowed to serve his sentence in liberty.[16][5][17] In 2002, he was elected a state deputy of São Paulo as a member of the Brazilian Labour Party with more than 50,000 votes, running with the campaign number 14.111 in reference to the 111 deaths.[5] He acquired privileged forum as a result of his election.[8] On 16 February 2006, a Brazilian court voided Guimarães' conviction because of mistrial claims; the court accepted his argument that he was only "following orders".[18] He was murdered in September 2006, found dead in his apartment after being shot in the abdomen.[19][5] Although not entirely certain, his death was likely the result of his role in the massacre.[20]

Another direct result of the riot and the handling of the riot was the unification of prisoners. One of Brazil's most notorious gangs, the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), is said to have formed in 1993 as a response to the event.[5][21] The surviving gang members joined forces with other prisoners to provide protection against the police.[22] The group is believed to be responsible for the death of José Ismael Pedrosa, the director of the prison at the time.[23]

After years of national and international pressure, the prison was demolished on 8 December 2002, the former complex having been turned into a park.[24] The massacre also gained international attention, with The New York Times, publishing one article titled "111 Killed When Police Storm Brazilian Prison During Inmate Riot" the same year as the massacre. The massacre also received attention from the BBC with several articles in the last several years dealing with the vigils and the trials. The massacre has also sparked ongoing discussions, both in Brazil and internationally about Brazil's prison system. In 2017, The New York Times published an article captioned "Brazil’s Deadly Prison System". Human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have also documented statistics of police violence and acquittals in Brazil.[14]


In April 2013, 23 policemen involved in the massacre were sentenced to 156 years in prison each for the killing of 13 inmates.[25] In August 2013, another 25 policemen involved in the massacre were sentenced to 624 years each for the deaths of 52 inmates.[26] In April 2014, 15 additional policemen were sentenced to 48 years.[27] Although the UN urged Brazil to bring justice to those most affected by the slaughter in September 2016, the court declared the trial on Carandiru massacre null.[28][29] The court judged that the massacre was an act of self-defense and that there was a lack of evidence to link the individual officers to the individual killings.[30] Consequently, the prosecutor is initiating an appeal and the process remains ongoing. None of the officers convicted have served their sentences.[31] Since the massacre, Brazil's federal government has passed new legislation to reform the prison system, all of which has yet to be enforced.[32]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brooke, James (4 October 1992). "111 Killed When Police Storm Brazilian Prison During Inmate Riot". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "De 74 PMs envolvidos no massacre do Carandiru, 58 foram promovidos" (in Portuguese). UOL. 2 October 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  3. ^ Brooke, James (4 October 1992). "111 Killed When Police Storm Brazilian Prison During Inmate Riot". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  4. ^ "Carandiru v. Brasil, Report, Report No. 34/00, Case No. 11.291 (IACmHR, Apr. 13, 2000)". Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Carandiru: 30 anos da maior chacina numa prisão brasileira" (in Portuguese). Deutsche Welle. 2 October 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  6. ^ Anne Manuel (1998). Behind bars in Brazil. Human Rights Watch. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-56432-195-4.
  7. ^ a b c "Amnesty International". 1993. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Massacre em SP que matou 111 presos no Carandiru completa 30 anos sem prisões de PMs condenados ou desfecho na Justiça" (in Portuguese). G1. 1 October 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  9. ^ A entrada da ROTA no Carandiru em 1992 (YouTube) (in Portuguese). Elias Junior Filmes. 3 October 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  10. ^ "Carandiru: oficial da Rota diz que PMs foram atacados com materiais com HIV" (in Portuguese). Terra. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Réu chora, admite ter atirado em presos no Carandiru e define: "Rota é sacerdócio"" (in Portuguese). UOL. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  12. ^ "The stories and horrors in Brazil's penal system". 14 May 2004 – via LA Times.
  13. ^ Brooke, James. “111 Killed When Police Storm Brazilian Prison During Inmate Riot.” The New York Times. October 04, 1992. Accessed March 29, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Outrage: 24 Years Later, Carandiru Prison Massacre of 111 is Called Self Defense". 30 September 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Brazil vigil marks jail massacre". 3 October 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Police officers get 156 years for 1992 Brazilian prison massacre". 21 April 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  17. ^ Willis, G. D. (2002). The Killing Consensus: Homicide Detectives, Police that Kill and Organized Crime in São Paulo, Brazil.
  18. ^ Ribeiro, Gustavo (2016). "Carandiru Massacre's Defining Moment for Brazil - Fair Observer". Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  19. ^ Phillips, Tom (11 September 2006). "Jail massacre colonel shot dead". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  20. ^ All Jazeera (2006). "Brazil prison massacre colonel killed". Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  21. ^ Nunes Dias, Camila (8 June 2010). "Organized Crime in Brazilian Prisons: The Example of the PCC".
  22. ^ Lessing, Benjamin (2016). "Brazil's prison massacres are a frightening window into gang warfare". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  23. ^ AAP (22 April 2013). "Brazil police jailed for prison 'massacre'". The Australian. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  24. ^ "Brazil prison riot trial adjourned". BBC News. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  25. ^ "Brazil police sentenced over Carandiru jail massacre". BBC News. 21 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  26. ^ "Brazil Carandiru jail massacre police guilty". BBC News. 3 August 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  27. ^ "15 police guilty in Brazil prison killings". eNCA. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  28. ^ "UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS, Office of the High Commissioner South America". Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  29. ^ "16 Brazil declares trial on Carandiru massacre null in shocking blow for justice". Amnesty International. 28 September 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  30. ^ "Outrage: 24 Years Later, Carandiru Prison Massacre of 111 is Called Self Defense". Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  31. ^ "Appeal begins in Brazil against acquittal of 74 police". BBC News. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  32. ^ Muggah, Robert; Carvalho, Ilona Szabó De (4 January 2017). "Opinion | Brazil's Deadly Prison System". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  33. ^ Bourgoin, Suzanne (1994). Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music. Gale. ISBN 9780810385535.
  34. ^ Sharpe-Young, Garry (2007). Metal: The Definitive Guide: Heavy, NWOBH, Progressive, Thrash, Death, Black, Gothic, Doom, Nu. Jawbone Press. p. 421. ISBN 9781906002015.
  35. ^ Anselmi, J. J. (12 April 2016). "Sepultura's 'Chaos A.D.' Is the Anti-Colonial Rallying Cry that Thrash has Always Needed". Vice. Retrieved 16 September 2016.

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