The death of a Congolese in Rio recalls the difficulties of African migrants in Brazil

Hundreds of people demonstrated on the 5 February in Brazil to seek justice for a 24-year-old Congolese boy years beaten to death on 24 January on a beach in Rio de Janeiro. If African immigration remains marginal in this country of more than 200 million inhabitants, this tragedy revives the debate on racism in Brazil.

Displaying placards with his portrait and slogans against racism and xenophobia, several hundred demonstrators, including members of the Congolese community, gathered around the beach bar where Moïse Kabagambe was employed. The young man was lynched there by five men. According to his family, he had come to claim back pay of 200 reais (about thirty euros) to the manager of the bar.

(Let’s do justice to Moses in Rio)

Demonstrations also took place in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Salvador de Bahia and Belo Horizonte, reports AFP. Three people involved in the fatal beating have been arrested, according to Brazilian police. The death of Moses Kabagambe caused a wave of indignation on social networks. Many artists and athletes have demanded justice for the young man, including footballer Gabriel Barbosa or singer Caetano Veloso.

(Translation : “I cried today reading the murder of Moïse Mujenyi Kabagambe in a kiosk in Barra da Tijuca. Let the name of the kiosk be Tropicália deepens, for me, the pain of seeing a refugee from violence encounter violence in Brazil.”)

Fleeing with his two brothers the violence in Ituri, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moïse Kabagambe had been welcomed on his arrival in Brazil in 2011 by the Catholic NGO Caritas. All three had been granted refugee status, says The cross.

“Between 2010 and 2018, the number of asylum applications lodged in Brazil multiplied by 80. This ‘migration boom’ is unprecedented, not only for its importance, but above all for the variety of countries of origin migrants: South America, Caribbean, Africa, Europe and even Asia”, specified the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2019. Thus, 70,000 Africans, mainly from the west of the continent, reached Brazil during this period. The Brazilian Justice Ministry estimates that Congolese refugees number 1,798.

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The Congolese community protests in Sao Paulo on February 5 against the murder of Congolese emigrant Moïse Kabagambe in Rio, January 24, 2022. (CRIS FAGA / NURPHOTO)

The Congolese community protests in Sao Paulo on February 5 against the murder of Congolese emigrant Moïse Kabagambe in Rio, January 24, 2022. (CRIS FAGA / NURPHOTO)

“Once you enter the country and apply for asylum, you have the same rights as any Brazilianindicated in 2015 Professor Duval Fernandes, in Point. But today, in an economic context weighed down in particular by the health crisis, according to The echoesfinding a job becomes more difficult for migrants.

This murder “cannot be considered in isolation from the context in which thousands of young black men and women who have been killed in recent times live and pass”, said Zanoni Demettino Castro. The person in charge of the Afro-Brazilian Pastoral of the Episcopal Conference, taken over by Fides agencyspecifies that “of the 34,918 violent youth deaths reported by the end of 2021, 80% were black youth”.

“This is about the death of a stranger who was our brother, because he was black. We are here to show our resistance, to show that we will not let what happened go unpunished.”

Bruna Lira, a 19 year old student

at AFP

Brasil “Only values ​​foreigners who have light eyes and speak English. If it’s a black man who came from Africa to try and grow up here, he has no value”Douglas Alencar, coordinator in Rio de Janeiro of Ipad, a militant institute for the defense of democracy, told AFP.

Beyond a phenomenon linked to the migratory boom, racism is strongly rooted in Brazil. And the death of a beaten black man in November 2020 by white vigilantes from a supermarket in Porto Alegre had already set fire to the powder in the country. At the time, the United Nations Organization called for an independent investigation and denounced a “structural racism” in Brazil.

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