The Tragedy in Santa Maria-Rio Grande do Sul –Brazil
Savage Capitalism? – This is a pleonasm! Savagery and corruption are part of the capitalist System!
Santa Maria is a city of 262 000 inhabitants located in the state of Rio-Grande-do-Sul, about 200 kilometers from the capital Porto Alegre, and where it is located the Federal University of Santa Maria, with 27 000 students. So it is city that is characterized by crowding university students and military bases Armed Forces.
More than 230 young people attending the nightclub Kiss in Santa Maria died and about 130 people were injured and taken to local hospitals when the fire started at KISS Club on the morning of Sunday, January 27, 2013. Many of the injured remain hospitalized in serious condition. There are reports that over 900 students and youth participated in the festival hall university. This event had the support of the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, so most of the victims ere students of the entity. The nightclub was operating with an expired license, no functioning prevention or firefighting equipment, and there was only one exit door. The sum of these factors were the way to tragedy.
The fire started shortly after a local band, started playing. The information of survivors report that iin the beginning of the fire the front door was being held closed. One of the survivors reported:
"The artist was singing with an artifact that produced sparks, sparks touched the ceiling, which was covered with an insulating foam. Was then that fire started too fast"!
The fire, fueled by foam insulation in the ceiling, produced thick toxic fumes . Unable to see or breathe, people panicked and ran for the exit. Hundreds flocked to the front door at once and many were trampled. The security guards tried to stop the escape, but were run over by the crowd. Many others ran toward the bathroom imagining being there for some output, because was the only lights in the darkness that could be seen. But the windows were capped with wooden bathroom. There was no time to return, all died. Almost none of the hundreds of victims died charred, most of them died asphyxiated.
People were confined because the main gate was closed. Witnesses confirmed that the security guards, fearing that people were trying to leave the room without paying, first kept the leaving doors closed. When the screams alerted about the fire, the guards opened the way, but precious seconds that could save lives were lost. Several of those who made it out, went back to rescue those who were already passed out. Some of those who made this gesture sacrificed their lives because they did not could return back. At least 05 armed forces personnel were among the dead. The news of the tragedy reached the country and the world through social networks and television. The intensity of the fire would take about three hours to the firemen contain it completely. The tragedy in Santa Maria is the second largest in number of victims in a fire since 1961 when a circus caught fire in Niterói-RJ with nearly 500 dead. exactly two years ago were about 900 killed in the tragedy of landslides in the area of Teresopolis in Rio de Janeiro, with strong evidence of omission of public authorities, local governments and State Government.
There is only one explanation for it. The pursuit of easy profits. To say that capitalism is savage is nothing but a pleonasm. This tragedy was completely avoidable. The nightclub was operating under a license that had expired in August 2012.
Tarso Genro, (Workers Party) state governor of Rio Grande do Sul, made a speech against the attempt of blaming the owners of the club or the State or municipal governments: "It's a brutal tragedy. Right now we have to show solidarity with the family members and participate in the mourning state and nationally. Assigning blame woul mean disrespect”. Obviously, at first the speech of Governor of the PT is to protect its ally the newly elected mayor of the PMDB.
Rather than club owners argue, this tragedy was not a fatality. The unbridled pursuit of profit is what explains this one more crime against the people. The facts cited above clearly show that the only goal was, at the lowest cost possible, get greater gains, even if it meant the risk of death of hundreds. Single port output to ensure that no one leave without pay, fire extinguishers not working, dropped ceiling and soundproofing of poor quality, overcrowding, etc., are elements pointing to corporate greed.
Cause astonishment also the evidence of the responsibilities of the municipal govern, of the firefighters command, of the state inspectors, finally, a network of connivance probably watered by bribery, very common in Brazil, and that allows tragedies like this.
There may be punishment for entrepreneurs and governments? If there is would be to a few (scapegoats) and for some very clear reasons: The social level of the victims are working class of peripheries, which are daily murdered by police, especially the recent killings in the State of São Paulo perpetrated by military police; the victims of the tragedy in Santa Maria are the youth of the middle class. Another factor is the proximity of events Football World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016. These events put Brazil in the spotlight worldwide, so anything that indicates lack of security to the thousands of foreigners who could come in Brazil has the attention of the foreign media. Therefore, the tendency should be to be greater supervision and control of the clubs and theaters. As for the owners club Kiss, it seems that there should be exemplary punishment, but as it seem has a lot of important people involved and it happened in Brazil, even that is doubtful.