Like US General Tommy Frank, who told reporters covering the Iraq war, "We don't do body counts," Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, didn't care much for the number of its civilians casualty till two Cariocas (Rio natives) started this February 1st, a website just for that: counting the bodies lost to violence in the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City).
In four days they have already counted 44 deaths and 41 injured. By creating Rio Body Count – www.riobodycount.com.br – system analyst Vinicius Costa, 25, and cartoonist André Dahmer, 32, with the help of five other volunteers, are trying to wake up Rio's population from its complacency and to the war zone that the town has become.
The site was inspired by the Iraq Body Count website, which has already counted a minimum of 56,000 bodies since the US invasion of that country, which started March 20, 2003.
The authors of the page explain: "We are a group of volunteers, without any party affiliation or link to any institution. We don't get donations and we are not an NGO. We report violence incidents in Rio de Janeiro from news we read in the big press and other sources." Their motto: "We do not believe in watched over peace, we want social inclusion."
Early this Monday morning, February 5, the homepage opened with this news: "It climbed to five the number of dead and 15 got hurt in the confrontation between police and drug traffickers in Cidade Alta and Ilha do Governador, according to CBN radio."
On Sunday, the site had informed: "Iago Silva, a 6-year-old boy, died Sunday night after being shot by a drug trafficker in the Vila do Cruzeiro favela (shantytown), in the Penha neighborhood, while sitting in front of his house on Jaci street, in a place known as Caracol (snail). The child was shot in the head. After being taken to the Getúlio Vargas Hospital, the boy was transferred to the state hospital Adão Pereira Nunes, in Saracuruna, where he died. As of yet, the police still don't know what triggered the shot.
Earlier, there were a few more tragic stories: "Luis Fernando de Miranda Magalhães, 27, was shot dead around 10 pm. The crime occurred in front of his home in Agripino Francisco Martins Street, in the Imbetiba neighborhood, in Macaé. (Macaenews.com.br)."
– Sergeant Alex Sarmento Mendes, was shot in the right eye this morning in the showdown in Cidade Alta, he died this afternoon. (Globo Online)
– An alleged criminal not yet identified died during a confrontation with policemen from the Military Police's 9th Battalion in Rocha Miranda. (O Dia, online)
– A homeless man was clubbed to death at dawn this Sunday under the Perimetral's bridge. The crime occurred in the Alfredo Agache street, next to the Navy's Cultural Center. (O Dia Online)
– During the invasion of Vila Juaniza, the Military Police officer Carlos Henrique Ferreira died and the officer identified as Augusto was wounded. A resident was taken out from his home by a man in a camouflaged uniform and executed in 82 Street, in a place known as Lagoinha (Little Pond). The murderer, known as PCC, was killed a little later. Another Military Police was also shot and has been admitted to the Military Police's General Hospital.Â (O Dia online)
– Edvânia dos Santos Silva, 54, was shot in the left knee, this Sunday morning, during an escape by gunmen, in the Margaridas crossroad, between the Dutra Highway and the Brasil Avenue. The woman was inside a bus when the policemen from the Special Roads Policing Battalion were giving chase to the criminals, who were in a Volkswagen Polo and a GM Astra. (JB Online)
The first report of the Sunday was:Â "A police militia took control of the Cidade Alta favela, in the Cordovil neighborhood, in the North Side, Friday night. Sunday, around 7 am, the traffickers' attempt to retake control of drugs sales in the area provoked an intense shooting, which left three residents and three policemen from the 16th Battalion wounded. (O Dia Online)
From the Saturday reports: "A burnt corpse, was found in Belford Roxo." – "Maurício Guilherme, 21, was found with a cut throat, at dawn this Saturday, in Recreio dos Bandeirantes." -Â "A Chevrolet Meriva, plate HCV-3811, was found with three corpses inside this Saturday morning, in Bonsucesso."
Talking to Reuters, the site creators said their intent is to provoke reactions: "The intention is really to shock. The violence in Rio has become commonplace and nobody knows the size of the tragedy we live daily. Two people challenged us asking if we were not badmouthing the city. I answered that real badmouthing will happen when someone comes here on vacation and ends up dead, robbed. Our work is only to gather the information."
The duo's initiative seems to have awakened the interest from people in other Brazilian cities who have now also shown interest in starting their own body counting in their area. Costa and Dahmer tell that they already have received calls from Salvador (Bahia), Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais) and São Paulo.
"Some even suggested that we started a Brazil Body Count, but that would require an absurd time of work," commented Costa and added: "I can already anticipate, even sharing the work, we will spend the whole day updating. But it's worthwhile. After this grows bigger, we wish to become part of the solution by suggesting measures that will help to decrease the violence in Rio de Janeiro."