Marcola: a New Face in the Brazilian War (2006)

Josino Moraes
Latin America Economic Researcher

Marcola - Marcos H. Camacho - is the first nationwide criminal leader of note in
Brazil. In fact, since 2001 Brazil has had a real criminal leader with a real political
party and a real army: The
Primeiro Comando da Capital, PCC, (First Command of
Capital). The word
Capital in the group's name refers to the the city of Sao Paulo. It
was founded in 1993, although its first official document dates to 1966. At present
the PCC publishes and distributes pamphlets to explain their political aspirations to
the low income population.

It might be strange to talk about a war in Brazil but the Brazilian population is
beginning to notice the existence of a new warlike phenomenon. There are a many
meetings in the large cities pleading for peace. In fact, while in Iraq there were
46,240 homicides since the beginning of the war in March 2003, there were 51,043
homicides in Brazil in 2003 alone, a period of  one year (O Estado de S. Paulo,

As a matter of fact, this war is a cruel reality for most Latin America countries.
However, without a doubt, the intensity of the phenomenon is greater in the   
Brazilian case. It is not a mere coincidence that Brazil has a tax burden, the main
cause of economic tragedy, twice that of any other Latin American country (40%
against 20% of GDP). A recent study (Folha de S. Paulo, September 17th, 2006)
shows that if there were no tax evasion the tax burden would rech about 60%.

The first signs of something strange in the air can be traced back to the 50's and
60's in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the largest cities in Brazil. At the same time
that social degradation sprung through slums everywhere, violence indicators
exploded. In the last decades as a sign of the breakdown of the state - mainly lack
of monopoly of power and force - prisons became the ideal place for criminals to
gather and organize themselves in different groups. They became universities of
crime. In the State of S. Paulo the Febem institution, originally designed to function
as a rehabilitation facility for minors, currently serves as a high school for crime
housing criminals under the age of 18.   

Since February 2001, during the first planned simultaneous large uprising rebellion
that happened in 29 prisons in Sao Paulo, Marcola and his First Command of Capital
(PCC) made sure that they became the only leadership in the Brazilian criminal
world. They killed most of their enemies inside the prisons in a contest for
leadership. They have generated a political party with discipline, ethics and
where"infractions" are punished rigidly. In fact, they have what they call their own
"Devil Code".

During Mother's Day in May 2006, Marcola and his team incited the largest criminal
rebellion ever seen: the organization was responsible for shutting down businesses,
industries, banks, schools, etc., for a full day in the State of Sao Paulo, the most
influential state in Brazil and responsible for 1/3 of GDP.  The rebellion began with
the relocation of some of PCC leaders to different prisons in the state, aggravated by
the possibility of these leaders missing the broadcast of World Cup Soccer Games -
the national insanity - and the expectation of Mother's Day visits.

In two or three days they killed more then 50 policemen, much more than the
Cuba-backed guerrillas did in the period 1968-1973. They took the command of 80
prisons in the State and a few more in other States, attacked police stations, courts
and other physical symbols of the existence of the legal State. Additionally, they
burned many busses with Molotov cocktails because in the last few years they have
created a competitive, illegal alternative system of public transport in the larger
cities based on 10 to 12 passenger vans.   

On May 23rd, 2006, Marcola granted an interview to the newspaper O Globo. His
rationality and articulateness were amazing. When asked if he was a member of The
First Command of Capital, he answered: "Much more than this, I am a sign of new
times". When asked about the solution he answered: "There is no solution
man......have you seen the 560 slums
(favelas) in Rio de Janeiro? Have you been in a
helicopter over the outskirts of Sao Paulo? How is it possible to find a solution?"