Murders of Brazilian Election Candidates Raise Security Concerns

  • Brazil soldiers will monitor vote in 408 municipalities
  • Candidates shot in Rio de Janiero, Goais, Mato Grosso states

Brazil’s top electoral authority has expressed concern with a wave of assassinations of candidates before municipal elections this Sunday and requested reinforced security.

Two people were killed and others injured in separate shootings involving mayoral candidates in the states of Goias and Mato Grosso since Wednesday. Around a dozen candidates and politicians have been murdered in recent months in Rio de Janeiro, where criminal groups control many of the city’s low-income communities.

“The last thing we want is the presence of organized crime in our political system,” Gilmar Mendes, head of the Superior Electoral Court said in a statement on Thursday condemning the recent attacks.

There have been targeted killings of political candidates in previous elections in Brazil, according to Robert Muggah, from the security think-tank, Instituto Igarape. In 2012 at least 120 cities received support from the armed forces during elections. Yet the sudden spike and the audacity of attacks in broad daylight have sparked concern among authorities.

Earlier on Thursday Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said that Brazil will deploy soldiers in 408 Brazilian cities during the elections, which begins with the first round of voting Oct. 2 and a runoff on Oct. 30.

Armed criminal groups in Rio de Janeiro are charging an “electoral tax” of as much as 120,000 reais ($37,000) for candidates to have the exclusive right to campaign in their area of influence, O Globo newspaper reported this week.

Leaders of these illegal militias have a list of prices to determine how much each area is worth depending on population density and electoral value, according to the newspaper. Some politicians have promised political appointments for relatives of criminals, it added.

Sunday’s election comes amid a deep economic recession and follows the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in August for breaking financial responsibility laws.

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