Friday, November 23rd 2012 - 20:15 UTC

Brazil has its first ever black head of the Supreme Court

Brazil judge Joaquim Barbosa took the oath of office as Brazil's first ever Afro descendant head of the Federal Supreme Tribunal (Supreme Court) on Thursday, in a historic ceremony attended by President Dilma Rousseff and other top leaders.

Magistrate Joaquim Barbosa congratulated by President Dilma Rousseff

The son of a bricklayer and a cleaner Barbosa, 58, pledged in his swearing in “to fulfil the duties of the office of the President of the Federal Supreme Court and the National Council of Justice under the law.”

Barbosa's elevation to the top judicial post in Brazil, the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888, has been heralded as a breakthrough. Despite constituting a majority of the population (52%), Afro-Brazilians languish at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Only 2.2% of Afro descendants make it to university.

Barbosa shot to fame as the court's most vocal critic of a congressional vote-buying scheme laid bare in an ongoing trial -- dubbed “Mensalao” or “big monthly payments” -- of former president Lula da Silva's top aides.

The scandal nearly cost Lula re-election in 2006, but the 66-year-old founder and leader of the leftist Workers' Party was cleared.

The former president also originally nominated Barbosa to join the top court nine years ago. But it was his performance in a so-called “trial of the century” secured his reputation as an implacable fighter against corruption.

Barbosa, who earned a PhD in public law at the French Sorbonne University, replaced Carlos Ayres Britto, who retired at age 70. He is fluent in French, German, Italian and English.

“I must honestly declare that there is a great deficit of justice in our country. Not all Brazilians are treated with the same consideration before the courts. What we see here is privileged treatment” said Magistrate Barbosa in his brief speech.

“The criminal courts in Brazil penalize and much…but mainly blacks, the poor and overall the minorities” regretted Barbosa in a recent interview.

Barbosa was born in a small village in Minas Gerais to a very humble home: his mother was a maid and his father manual worker. However he moved to Brasilia to study working as a cleaner in the courts and later in a printing shop. Finally he made it to the best universities only reserved for the rich in Brazil.

22 comments Feed

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1 briton (#) Nov 23rd, 2012 - 08:26 pm Report abuse
And rightly so,.
2 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 23rd, 2012 - 08:28 pm Report abuse
Long over due. WHo is that women a pic of in almost every article???
3 Brasileiro (#) Nov 23rd, 2012 - 11:50 pm Report abuse
Brazil! War is coming!
4 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 12:05 am Report abuse
great invade argentina
5 British_Kirchnerist (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 12:36 am Report abuse
Great news!

#4 A bit random, no?
6 Brasileiro (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 12:40 am Report abuse
BRAZIL! Land to all peoples from Universe!
7 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 02:27 pm Report abuse
Random BK....look at # 3 shaking his Brasilian military balls and claiming war is coming.....random I say not and you did not see his link.
8 reality check (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 06:58 pm Report abuse
Did I not read some where that an Argentine Prseident once said, that Blacks were a Brazilian problem and that their were none in the Argentine, something along those lines.

Well congratulations Your Honour, no doubt worked hard for it and well deserved. A person should be recognised by the content of their ability and character, not by their colour, Jessie Owens taught us that, we just took a long time to learn it.

Digressing somewhat, I checked out the link on Brazils armed forces, impressive, not suprising though, as they were the only SA country to contribute forces to the allied effort in Italy, in WW2.

The Brazilia Brigade fought with courage and distinction out of all proportion to their size. Many a young Brazilian boy did not return a long, long, long way home. Thank you, next Nov 11, I will be very careful to remember you lads!
9 briton (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 07:32 pm Report abuse
BRAZIL! Land to all peoples from Universe,,,

Another Daft Vader
10 reality check (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 07:40 pm Report abuse
As far as I know, they were doing diversity before it even became a PC word. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but do they not have a diverse population that has not had the racial problems the rest of us had or still have. Perhaps, just perhaps, there is something we can learn from them.

A man who makes a mistake once is wrong, a man who makes a mistake twice is stubborn, a man who continues to make mistakes, is a fool!
11 briton (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 08:28 pm Report abuse
you may well be correct
brazil is growing,
as long as she does not let bad apples influence her, she will be ok,

if they listen to CFK and hugo the bear,
they will go the same way.
12 GeoffWard2 (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 09:01 pm Report abuse
This is a great appointment.

Well done!!!!
13 reality check (#) Nov 24th, 2012 - 10:01 pm Report abuse
What? with the money they are raking in!

To their faces they will nod and smile.

When their backs are turned, through pursed lips, a slight whisper, “Wankers!”
14 Brasileiro (#) Nov 25th, 2012 - 12:21 am Report abuse
Yes. We can!!
To all South-americans!
We can!
15 reality check (#) Nov 25th, 2012 - 12:50 am Report abuse
Sorry do not speak Portugese, watched your link and think that you are saying you can host the Olympics in 16.

Man do not know what you call the statue on the mountain, but it's iconic, recognised and envied throughout the world, looks bloody beautiful at night.

Why bother telling all South Americans what we already know. Your Olympics will be spectacular, but better than that, unique. Olympics in Rio! man. the greatest sporting event in the world and probably the greatest Carnival, a Carnival of sport. Can not wait for it.

On a personal note, it will be my Golden (30 year) wedding anniversary, wonder if she would mind a trip to Rio.
16 Brasileiro (#) Nov 25th, 2012 - 12:56 am Report abuse
You are welcome, sir!
Olimpic games and Fifa wolrd Cup! Brazil is friend, brother. Included Argentinians hermanos! I dont more in english language because i dont know. My words “são poucas”. “Não consigo me comunicar direito, por isso uso vídeos”!
17 reality check (#) Nov 25th, 2012 - 02:14 am Report abuse
Brazilia 2016, goint to be fantastic, could not be anything else, really looking forward to it. Good luck and when it comes! enjoy it. Listen to me, telling a Brazilian to enjoy himself, how crazy is that!!!!
18 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 25th, 2012 - 03:51 am Report abuse
#8 She is quite a racist. I have been to argentina quite a few times and never yet seen a black person there. There are many in Brazil. I've overheard some once say ( in Argentina) they took care of the problem problem long ago. You would really have to look long and hard to find blacks in Argentina
19 British_Kirchnerist (#) Nov 25th, 2012 - 08:45 am Report abuse
#18 I don't think the Argentine President mentioned in #8 is Crstina, she is certainly no racist
20 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 25th, 2012 - 04:09 pm Report abuse
Ever see a black in Argentina BK?
21 briton (#) Nov 25th, 2012 - 07:36 pm Report abuse
he is very polite,
or its google translation.
22 British_Kirchnerist (#) Nov 26th, 2012 - 02:56 am Report abuse
#20 Never been, yet

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