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Voice for Reason Silenced in Brazil’s Maelstrom of Violence

João Maria Figueiredo was only 34 when I met him at the end of 2016 at a meeting of the Brazilian Public Security Forum. A stocky, exuberant military police officer from Rio Grande do Norte state, he already projected an air of experience. At the time, a colleague and I were collecting testimony from officers like João, who had faced disproportionate punishment for expressing opinions that diverged from those of their superiors. With his melodic northeastern accent and commanding voice, João laid out an articulate and impassioned defense of officers’ rights. He understood the importance of effective…

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