Newborn latest victim of Rio de Janeiro’s surging violence
Arthur was still inside his mother’s womb when he became Rio de Janeiro’s latest victim of gun violence. His mother, Claudineia dos Santos Melo, was almost nine months pregnant when she was hit by a stray bullet from a shootout in a Rio slum on June 30. During an emergency cesarean section doctors discovered that a bullet had also hit Arthur, damaging his lungs and spine.
Doctors say the mother is in stable, non-life threatening condition while her newborn is clinging to life in a case that has shocked Brazilians and underscored surging gun violence in Rio. “We had never seen this before,” Rafael Lopes, the head surgeon at the Moacyr Rodrigues de Carmo hospital where Arthur was delivered, said during a press conference Monday. Doctors said it was a miracle Arthur was still alive, breathing with the help of machines and currently paraplegic, though they added it was too soon to say if he would remain so forever.
According to Fogo Cruzado,” or “Crossfire,” a free app created by Amnesty International Brazil, there have been an average of 13 shootings a day in the Rio metropolitan area over the past 11 months. Most of the shootings occur in hillside slums controlled by drug gangs. On the same day Melo was shot, a mother and daughter were killed in the Mangueira favela near the iconic Maracana stadium as police and criminals exchanged fire for over three hours.
Marlene Maria da Conceicao, 76, was shot in the doorway of her home. Her 42-year-old daughter, Ana Cristina da Conceicao, was also hit when she tried to help her mother. “The state government has abandoned the communities,” said Mangueira community leader Washington Fortunato at the women’s funeral. Last year, 920 people died during police raids or patrols in Rio state according to its Public Security Institute. This year’s figure is up by almost 60 percent over 2016. “I hope no family has to go through what we are going through because it is too painful,” said Arthur’s uncle, Walter de Melo, as he accompanied the speechless father to register the child.— AP
RIO DE JANEIRO: Claudineia Dos Santos Melo takes a selfie in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Claudineia dos Santos Melo was 35 weeks into her pregnancy when she was caught in a crossfire in the Duque de Caxias slum, of the metropolitan Rio de Janeiro area. According to doctors, a bullet entered the side of her hip perforating her uterus and critically injuring the baby inside her womb. —AP