Social Issues

Shock in Brazil over death of five-year-old black boy

Recife, Brazil, Jun 5 (efe-epa).- Hundreds gathered on Friday in a Brazilian city over the death of a minor black boy who fell from the ninth floor of a highrise after his mother, a housemaid, had left him under the care of her employer.

In an echo of the anti-racist and social discrimination protests in the United States, activists marched from central Recife, the capital of Pernambuco state, up to the residential compound where the fatal accident occurred, allegedly due to the negligence of the white employer.

Miguel Otavio, 5, died on Wednesday when his mother, who worked as domestic help, went out to walk the dog of her employer.

Mirtes Renata de Sousa had taken her only son Miguel Otavio to her work, and asked her employer Sari Corte Real, wife of Tamandare Mayor Sergio Hacker, to take care of the minor while she took the dog for a walk.

Internal CCTV image recorded the moment when the minor entered the elevator and Sari Corte Real pressed one of the buttons to let the child go down in search of his mother.

But the child pressed other buttons and ended up on the ninth floor, designated for air conditioners and the only floor without barriers in the balcony, from where he fell to his death.

The circumstances of his death are under investigation, but Corte Real is to appear before the justice system on charges of culpable homicide – when an act results in death not amounting to murder – for having left the minor in the elevator without adult supervision.

The woman was detained after the incident but was set free on bail of 20,000 reals ($4,000).

Miguel’s mother has accused her employer of the negligence and said he had left her son in the elevator when she was doing her manicure.

The minor’s death was all over the social media on Thursday when his family conducted the funeral with calls for a protest march to launch a crusade against racism following last month’s killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in the US.

Psychologist Iris Maria da Silva, who works in public health, told EFE that “despair and anguish”, of a five-year-old upon feeling separated from his mother, even if for five minutes, “is understandable at this age,” and the negligence of the employer was clearly visible in the elevator cameras.

“We came here in the name of black society and population and we cannot disassociate this from what happened in the United States with the death of George Floyd,” the psychologist said.

“The fight is not new. Had it been the other way round, Mirtes would have been arrested without the right to bail. This act does not end here.”

The minor’s aunt, Francecleide Rosangela de Sousa told media that the employer of her sister “took the child to death”.

“It is not only in Recife. It is the entire world,” said the aunt, who hopes that the employer would be brought to justice and made to pay for her crime.

The march ended when several protesters lay down in the middle of the street and shouted: “It was not an accident, it was murder”.

Several residents of the building released black balloons from their windows to pay tribute to Miguel Otavio. EFE-EPA

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