Brazil’s favela fairy tale: When Prince Charming packs heat

Flora Charner – Aljazeera America, 11/24/2014

As Marcelle Rosa, 15, walked onto the dance floor, she looked like a modern-day princess. She was wearing a pink and black ball gown with a tightly laced corset and a tiara on top of her coiffed curls. Suddenly, a man in a pressed uniform took her by the hand and led her in a waltz. She could not stop smiling.

Rosa and a group of her closest friends were living any girl’s fairy tale, far, far away from the favela they call home. While the night was everything she would have dreamed, she never imagined her Prince Charming would be an officer from Rio de Janeiro’s military police.

The music switched from Tchaikovsky to Brazilian funk, and the teenagers let go of their partners. With each beat, the girls bounced and gyrated, swishing their long dresses on the floor. A group of female police officers joined the dance circle and shimmied with the girls. This was the Cerro-Corá favela’s debutante ball, organized by the fairy godmothers of the local Police Pacification Unit, or UPP.

Read more…

Remember Brazil’s World Cup Protests?

Geoffrey Ramsey – Pan American Post, 10/31/2014

Remember “Não vai ter copa” and the concerns among international media that protests would overshadow the World Cup games this June/July? As it happened, turnout at the demonstrations was far lower than many expected, and the overall legacy of the event was largely unaffected.

But there may have been a reason for that. The initial round of protests in World Cup host cities in the first days of the Cup was met by a harsh crackdown by the state-level Military Police (PM), especially in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In the former, local human rights group Conectas criticized the police for restricting civil liberties and acting as if a “state of emergency” had been declared, and journalists in Rio de Janeiro clearly captured footage of Rio PM officers brandishing guns and firing live ammunition to break up protests.

Considering the disproportionately repressive police response to the demonstrations, it’s no wonder that they failed to gather critical mass. Indeed, this may have been an unspoken part of these states’ security strategy all along.

Read more…


Brazil begins laying its own Internet cables to avoid U.S. surveillance

Nancy Scola – The Washington Post, 11/03/2014

There’s a new wrinkle in Brazil’s plan to build a $185 million undersea fiber-optic cable that would connect it to Portugal and help the country avoid surveillance by U.S. intelligence authorities, reports Bloomberg: The cable will be built without the help of any U.S. companies.

While Brazil arguably led the world’s outrage over the Edward Snowden disclosures, its ire has mellowed a bit in recent months. But that Brazilian authorities are still talking about a U.S.-free undersea link to Europe only underscores something that may be especially destructive to U.S. tech companies: Once you write foreign policy into fiber-optic cables, it stays that way for a long, long time.

To be sure, under President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil reacted strongly negatively, in ways big and little, to the Snowden disclosures in September 2013: Rousseff railed at the United Nations  about Brazil’s commitment to “redouble its efforts to adopt legislation, technologies and mechanisms to protect us from the illegal interception of communications and data.”

Read more… 

Big Events, Big Risks: Lessons From Brazil’s World Cup

Jacqueline Day – Forbes, 09/29/2014

For a month this past summer, billions of fans around the world stayed glued to televisions broadcasting the FIFA World Cup from Brazil. Millions more descended on Brazil to watch the games in person. They came despite the various warnings about Brazil’s readiness to host and fears of widespread, violent protests. Yet, as it should be, the tournament will mostly be remembered for the drama that played out on the pitch: from the Brazilian team’s epic collapse against Germany and the controversy that erupted when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (some would say allegedly) bit an Italian opponent, to the emergence of Colombian star James Rodriguez.

That the tournament will be remembered first and foremost for the soccer was no small feat and, frankly, a massive surprise. Thousands of corporate VIPs, celebrities and world leaders descending upon a country known for its security, logistics and infrastructure challenges was worrisome enough. Such a backdrop, combined with the disruptive social unrest that flared unexpectedly in 2013, could have easily shifted the storyline away from the sporting competition itself. That it did not is a testament to the hard work and careful preparation of the legions of public and private sector workers, as well as to the Brazilian people’s devotion to “the beautiful game.”

The Brazilian security forces deserve plenty of credit. They took active measures to address lessons learned from the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, effectively managing and containing the smaller-scale protests that did occur, and critically, avoiding the heavy-handed tactics that only aggravated matters in 2013. They were helped by two additional factors. First, many Brazilians who had previously engaged in legitimate and peaceful protest activity during the Confederations Cup were alienated by the violent tactics of anarchist groups, the so-called Black Blocs, with whom they did not want to be associated.  Second, in keeping with custom, most Brazilians cared more about watching the matches than taking to the streets. Even Brazil’s crushing loss to Germany—an event that caused security directors to collectively hold their breath—failed to galvanize the masses to take back to the streets.

Read more… 

Little done in Brazil to improve safety after fire

AP/ABC News, 05/23/2013

Little has been done to improve the safety of public gathering places since a nightclub fire killed 242 people earlier this year in southern Brazil, relatives of the victims said Wednesday.

The relatives met in Brasilia to discuss what safety measures have been adopted in Brazil since the Jan. 27 fire that destroyed the Kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria.

“Almost nothing has been done to improve the safety of nightclubs,” said Adherbal Alves Ferreira, whose 22-year-old daughter, Jennefer, perished in the fire. “We need more vigorous laws and demand they be followed and obeyed.”

Read more…

Brazil: Counterterror team at Confederations Cup

AP/ABC News, 04/22/2013

An officer in the Brazilian army’s counterterrorism division says about 600 soldiers will be taking part in security operations during the upcoming Confederations Cup.

The G1 news website quoted Col. Richard Fernandez Nunes on Monday as saying an additional 250 specialists in identifying threats from chemical, biological and nuclear threats will be also conducting sweeps during the June 15-30 football tournament.

The six Brazilian cities hosting Confederations Cup matches will each be assigned a counterterrorism team. Brazil is also hosting next year’s World Cup, and Nunes says all 12 of the tournament’s host cities will have such teams.

Read more…

More delays in Brazil air force upgrades

UPI, 04/09/2013

Piecemeal upgrades to Brazilian air force inventory are threatening to overshadow the Latin American country’s most important — and most delayed — plan to discard aging war jets and replace them with a brand-new inventory.

Brazilian military analysts say the defense establishment’s perceived priorities are not receiving the attention they deserve from President Dilma Rousseff’s administration.

Brazilian air force plans to upgrade its fighting capability have been stymied by delays over the acquisition of new fighter jets.