Brazil: Brutal Racist Murder of Joao Alberto Freitas

Transform indignation into popular revolt!


Statement of Corrente Comunista Revolucionária (Brazilian section of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency), 27 November 2020,




On 19 November – the day before the national holiday called “black awareness day” (1) – João Alberto Silveira Freitas, a forty-year-old black man, was beaten to death by two security guards at a hypermarket store of the  French multinational corporation Carrefour in the neighborhood in the city of Porto Alegre. These two guards, Magno Braz Borges and Giovane Gaspar da Silva, are a former soldier respectively a temporary military police officer, were hired by the outsourced private security company Vector. Gaspar da Silva was not authorized to work as a security guard.


The two security guards led the man to the unit's parking lot and beat him brutally while people filmed quietly, asphyxiating him for four minutes until death. According to witnesses, João Alberto asked for help and pleaded saying that he could not breathe. Security guards prevented other people from intervening, even with screams that they were killing the man. A delivery man who was on the scene and filmed the murder reported that the killers tried to delete the video and threatened him. Security guards were preemptively arrested on charges of triple-qualified murder: for futile reasons, for asphyxiation, and for using means that prevent the victim's defense.


The striking scenes immediately brought to our memories the death by asphyxiation of George Floyd in the USA. The repercussion was strong, not only because of the savagery, but because it happened on the eve of the Black Awareness Day holiday.


The global CEO of Carrefour, Alexandre Bompard, stated the day after the tragedy that “first of all, I would like to express my deepest feelings, after the death of Mr. João Alberto Silveira Freitas. The images posted on social networks are unbearable (...) our company does not accept racism and violence "and asked the Carrefour Brasil Group to carry out a" complete review of the training actions of employees and partners in outsourcing."


In the following days, many thousands of people showed up in front of the Carrefour stores in various capitals of the country; São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Recife, Salvador, etc. In São Paulo, one of the Carrefour stores was partially set on fire by protesters who shouted the famous slogan “black lives matter”.


In the face of several protests spreading across the country, President Bolsonaro made a statement calling protesters against racism as "trash." Meanwhile, Vice President Hamilton Mourão made the most grotesque statement saying that "in Brazil there is no racism."


Carrefour is considered the second largest retailer in Brazil and the second largest wholesale in the country and has links with the powerful Itaú Unibanco, the largest private bank in Brazil, which almost 49 years ago acquired 49% of the shares of Carrefour Soluções Financeiras.


Senator Paulo Paim (PT), chairman of the Senate Human Rights Commission, said he invited Carrefour to a meeting. Based on a list made by the senator, the Estado de Minas newspaper gathered six cases of racism and extreme situations that happened at Carrefour:


1) In August 2020 in Recife, the dead body of a man identified as Moisés Santos, 53, was covered with umbrellas and surrounded by boxes so that the store could continue to function. The body remained in place, between 8 am and 12 pm, until it was removed by the Legal Medical Institute.


2) In September, in Rio de Janeiro, Nataly Ventura da Silva, 31 years old, was surprised to find the phrase “just for the whites to wear” written on an apron.


3) In 2019, the 5th Labor Court in the city of Osasco, São Paulo, identified conditions considered degrading for the company's employees. That's because Carrefour was controlling the employees' going to the bathroom.


4) In December 2018, a dog that was in the parking lot of one of the company's stores in Osasco, died after being poisoned and beaten by an employee.


5) In 2018, company employees in São Bernardo do Campo, in ABC Paulista, attacked Luís Carlos Gomes because he opened a can of beer inside the store. Despite the customer reiterating that he would pay for the item, he was chased by the unit manager and a security guard and then cornered in a bathroom, where he received a rear naked choke.


6) In 2009, Carrefour security guards attacked the electronics technician Januário Alves de Santana, 39, in the parking lot of a unit in Osasco. He was accused of being a thief who wants to steal a car. In fact, he could prove that he was the owner of that car.


This murder is not episodic or casual. There is no capitalism without racism, especially at this time of deep crisis. In addition, in making numerous racist speeches and provocations, president Bolsonaro is the main supporter of racist violence.


The extremely conservative and mostly white bourgeoisie in Brazil has no interest in ending racism. It is a historical process of 500 years of exploitation and oppression not only with the black people, but also with the mestizos, indigenous people and millions of poor whites. Basically, it is not just a problem of skin color, but of social class, it is the class struggle. It is the capitalist system that incorporates racism resulting in super-exploitation of black people.


We from the CCR call for a strong mobilization of the mass movement, the organized workers, the trade unions and progressive parties to give support to the resistance of the black people against our historical structural racism and oppression. We need to convert our indignation in a popular uprising!