December 27, 2012
Juan Forero – The Washington Post, 12/26/2012
Glassy-eyed, rail-thin and filthy, hundreds of addicts emerged from doorways and alleys as dusk came to the once-grand Luz district in the heart of this city.
After quick transactions with crack dealers, they scrambled for a little privacy to light up their pipes and inhale tiny, highly addictive rocks that go for about $5 each. The image was reminiscent of Washington or New York in the 1980s, when crack cocaine engulfed whole neighborhoods and sparked a dizzying cycle of violence.
But this time, the crack epidemic is happening in Brazil, alarming officials and tarnishing the country’s carefully cultivated image ahead of two major sporting events to be staged here: soccer’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
November 13, 2012
John Lyons – The Wall Street Journal, 11/11/2012
At least 140 people have been killed in the past two weeks amid a deadly confrontation between police and a gang that controls much of São Paulo city’s trade in crack cocaine, state authorities said, prompting some schools and shops to close early in sprawling city outskirts.
Nearly 1,000 homicides have been reported in São Paulo this year, according to state officials, reversing a yearslong trend of declining rates. Some 90 of those killed were current or retired police officers, often killed in ambushes in what investigators say are hits ordered by a São Paulo gang, the First Command of the Capital, or PCC. In 2011, some 56 police were killed.
The wave of killings is likely to refocus attention on crime rates in a country preparing to host two global sporting events, soccer’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Despite full employment and an economic boom, Brazil’s national killing rate still remains one of Latin America’s highest, surpassing that in countries such as Mexico, which routinely makes the news for gruesome drug-related deaths.
November 9, 2012
Fox News Latino/EFE, 11/08/2012
Nine people were killed in another night of mayhem here in Brazil’s most populous city following the announcement by federal and regional officials of a new anti-crime plan, authorities said Thursday.
The violence, which had been concentrated in slums and gritty industrial suburbs, spread to the affluent Sao Paulo neighborhood of Jardins, where a gunman trying to rob a gas station died in a shootout with police.
Two other would-be robbers died and a police officer was wounded in a gunfight among cops, criminals and private security guards at a supermarket.
October 3, 2012
Hundreds of people in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo have held a multi-faith ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of an infamous prison massacre.
Riot police killed 111 inmates after entering the Carandiru jail, in central Sao Paulo, to put an end to a riot.
Relatives and human rights activists are demanding justice, saying the inmates were shot at point-blank range.
September 28, 2012
Police in Brazil are searching for the killers of the former head of a Sao Paulo death squad who was shot a month after being released from a lengthy jail term.
Florisvaldo de Oliveira, an ex-policeman known as Corporal Bruno, had served nearly 30 years for murdering at least 50 people.
He was shot dead in an ambush as he drove his family home from church.
May 8, 2012
AP/Fox News, 05/06/2012
Conflicts over land issues in Brazil increased last year, although the number of rural activists killed nationally went down slightly, according to a report released by a watchdog group that tallies land-related threats and murders. The report found that at least two ongoing conflicts could turn into violent conflagrations.
The Catholic Land Pastoral ‘s survey released Monday showed murders connected to land disputes fell from 34 in 2010 to 29 in 2011. Murder attempts also fell, from 55 to 38. In spite of the trend, the number of conflicts nationwide rose from 1,186 to 1,363, and the number of death threats grew from 125 to 347.
The report was released on the same day a state judge ordered two former high-ranking police officials to be jailed for their part in the worst massacre carried out during a land conflict in Brazil — an April 1996 clash that saw police open fire on some 2,000 landless peasants, killing 19 of them.
January 10, 2011
Adam Isacson – Just the Facts, 01/05/2011
A view of Rio's Complexo de Alemão favela. Photo: Just the Facts
Just before the holidays I accompanied WOLA colleagues on a week-long research trip to Brazil. While In Rio de Janeiro, I saw a scenario that’s starting to look very familiar around Latin America, and that may recur elsewhere in 2011.
It goes something like this:
- Decades of government neglect effectively cede a piece of territory, and its population, to violent groups. This neglected territory could be a discrete urban neighborhood; it could be a vast rural region. The violent groups – whether insurgents, pro-government militias, mafias or gangs – recruit unoccupied youth and fund themselves by drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. The illegal groups corrupt and penetrate the very government institutions that are supposed to confront them: the security forces, the judicial system, local and sometimes national government.
January 6, 2011
The Associated Press/NPR, 01/06/2011
Costumers have their hair cut at the Ze do Carmo barbershop at the Santa Marta slum in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Associated Press
At his barbershop carved into the steep flank of a Rio hillside slum, Jose do Carmo dos Santos used to cut the hair of the neighborhood’s drug dealers and of the addicts who walked up the narrow alleyways for a fix and stuck around for the $5 trims.
His only request of the drug trade’s foot soldiers was that they not flash their assault rifles around the shop and scare away customers. Above all, Ze do Carmo, as he’s known in the Santa Marta shantytown, is a businessman.
But then in 2008 police stormed Santa Marta to evict the dealers as the community became the pilot in a program to root out gangs and bring government services to slums long abandoned by the state. The program has since been replicated in a dozen slums, all in a bid to make one of the world’s more dangerous cities safer before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Police took control of three more shantytowns Thursday in what they described as a peaceful operation.
November 30, 2010
Mariano Castillo – CNN, 11/30/2010
A Coordination of Special Resources (CORE) policeman aims his gun in the Alemao slum of Rio de Janeiro on Monday.
The military operation to clear a Rio de Janeiro slum of drug traffickers will effectively turn into an occupation of the area at least through October of next year, Gov. Sergio Cabral said in a radio interview Tuesday.
Rio state Gov. Sergio Cabral said that at least 2,000 troops will remain at the Alemao slum — called a favela in Portuguese — to keep up the effort to pacify the area. He announced the move after meeting with Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president-elect, in the capital, Brasilia. Originally, he had requested the troops for only six months.
Rousseff offered her support for the security work being carried out in Rio, Cabral said. The troops are needed so that the government doesn’t have to delay future operations in other communities overrun by drug traffickers, he said.
November 29, 2010
Brian Winter – Reuters, 11/29/2010
This weekend’s scenes of urban warfare in Rio de Janeiro may prove to be a crucial — and positive — step in Brazil’s economic development if police can retain control of previously lawless slums.
The operation that took control of Alemao, one of the beachside city’s most notorious slums, was about more than just pushing back against drug gangs who set fire to cars and buses during a crime wave that left at least 46 people dead.
The joint raids by police and military forces, which ended with euphoric troops waving Brazilian flags from a hilltop they had not controlled in years, were a sign that Brazil finally may be summoning the willpower and resources to bring down one of the region’s highest crime rates, which has long been a burden on its emerging economy.