On 7 April, 23-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira entered a school in Rio de Janeiro brandishing a gun. He killed 12 students and injured more than 20 others before shooting himself. Although Brazil has become increasingly associated with violence and gun crime in recent years, this was the first time in the country’s history that a school has been the target of a shooting, drawing comparisons with the 1999 Columbine massacre.
The attack on the Escola Municipal Tasso da Silveira school in the city’s western neighbourhood of Realengo has tempered the wave of excitement about Brazil’s economic and social achievements in recent years. Brazil is hotly tipped to become the world’s fifth-largest economy over the course of the next decade. The crowning moment came when the country was elected host for both the 2014 Fifa World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2016.
President Obama’s recent visit to Brazil further confirmed the country’s importance on the world stage and the attraction it holds for foreign investment. Yet in February, the Brazilian ministry of justice released a report revealing that the murder rate among youths had almost doubled between 1998 and 2008. Last month’s attack has stirred the politicians into action: today, the minister of justice José Eduardo Cardozo will launch a national disarmament campaign.
Alice Ribeiro, w…