Correcting Brazil’s police violence: the case of Rio’s Pacifying Police Units

December 19, 2014

Layne Vandenberg – Brazil Institute, 12/18/2014

13560096934_9585f621cf_z

Widespread protests against police violence and racism have recently scattered the United States after the release of the Ferguson (Michael Brown) and Eric Garner grand jury decisions. While Americans grapple with the reality of police violence, other countries live deeply entrenched in this reality. Scholar Ignácio Cano says there is “a Ferguson every day” in Brazil, and the state of Rio de Janeiro has been trying out a new policing strategy in hopes of improving community-police relations in its slums, called favelas.

Between 2009 and 2013, Brazilian police killed more than 11,000 people, or about six people per day. The 2014 edition of the Brazil Public Security Yearbook also found that 53,646 homicides occurred in 2013, or one person every 10 minutes.

With the highest per capita rate of killing of any Brazilian state and 6,826 homicides per year between 1991 and 2007, the state of Rio de Janeiro is “comparable with urban areas of countries in civil war.” But Rio needed a quick solution for its violent reputation among the international crowd. Rio is home to Maracanã stadium, where several 2014 FIFA World Cup matches, including the final, were held and the city is the host of the upcoming 2016 Olympic games. So how do you change the face of a city and a state in time for the world’s two largest sporting events?

The Rio state government’s solution: pacification.

Read the rest of this entry »


Young, Black, Alive – Breaking the silence on Brazil’s soaring youth homicide rate

November 26, 2014

Atila Roque – Live Wire, 11/26/2014

Earlier this week, many people around the world waited with bated breath for a grand jury’s decision in a case where a police officer shot dead an unarmed young black man on the street. While the 9 August shooting of Michael Brown took place in the US suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, the case has a deep resonance here in Brazil. The tragic course of events leading up to the teenager’s death could just as easily have played out on the streets of our cities orfavelas.

Of the 56,000 homicides in Brazil every year, 30,000 are young people aged 15 to 29. That means that, at this very moment, a young person is most likely being killed in Brazil. By the time you go to bed, 82 will have died today. It’s like a small airplane full of young people crashing every two days, with no survivors. This would be shocking enough by itself, but it’s even more scandalous that 77 per cent of these young people are black.

Since 1980, more than 1 million people have been murdered in Brazil. According to Global Burden of Armed Violence 2008, in the period from 2004 to 2007, more people were killed here than in the 12 main wars worldwide. However the violence doesn’t impact Brazilian society equally. Murders are rampant in poor and marginalized communities. Prejudice and negative stereotypes associated with the favelas and city outskirts have a key role in perpetrating this violence.

Read more… 

 


FAPESP Countdown: “Justice of Impunity”

November 12, 2014

The Brazil Institute is counting down to this year’s FAPESP Week (November 17-21), organized in collaboration with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. The symposium aims at strengthening the links between scientists from Brazil and the U.S. with the objective of promoting research partnerships. Find out more about the 2014 FAPESP Week in California here

Carlos Haag – Pesquisa FAPESP, 2014 Print Edition, Published in July 2013

A sentence from Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 classic On Crimes and Punishments is remarkably fitting today: “The certainty of a chastisement, even if it be moderate, will always make a greater impression than the fear of a more terrible punishment that is united with the hope of impunity.” Beccaria’s foresight captures current trends. “There’s a strong feeling in Brazil that irrespective of class, wealth, or power, crime has increased and grown more violent, but that there is impunity. At times like this, people think the solution is to have stiffer laws and longer prison terms,” says sociologist Sérgio Adorno, coordinator of the Center for the Study of Violence of the University of São Paulo (NEV-RIDC/USP), which is one of the 17 Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

“The feeling that impunity exists feeds distrust in the democratic institutions that are entrusted with enforcing law and order and with protecting civil rights, as provided for under the constitution, especially the right to safety,” says the researcher. But what are the true dimensions of this impunity? With this question in mind, NEV-RIDC conducted the research study Police investigations and the judicial process in São Paulo: the case of homicides, which is an outgrowth of the project Research on criminal impunity. The proposal was to analyze the flow of homicide cases from police report to sentencing. In addition to measuring criminal impunity, the study sought to identify the judicial and extrajudicial factors and the institutional mechanisms that favor the non-application of sentences for these crimes.

The basic numbers themselves reveal the magnitude of this impunity: only 60.13% of reported homicides were investigated. Consequently, no police investigations were on file for about 40% of the reports. While homicides rose 15.51%, the number of police investigations climbed just 7.48%. “This means the gap between the potential for more violence and the ability of the police force to investigate these crimes has widened, and this may find expression in people’s lack of confidence in the institutions entrusted with safeguarding the public order and enforcing law and order,” the sociologist points out.

Read more…

Download the PDF…

Article and photo courtesy of Revista Pesquisa FAPESP.



Gang war in Brazil’s Pedrinhas jail kills 13

October 10, 2013

BBC, 10/10/2013

Thirteen inmates have been killed and at least 30 injured in a fight between rival gangs in a prison in Brazil.

Riot police say they have regained control of Pedrinhas prison in Sao Luis, in the state of Maranhao, and are searching the jail for illegal weapons.

Prison guards said fighting had broken out after they discovered inmates digging an escape tunnel.

Read more…


Highway robbery hurting top stock Paranapanema: corporate Brazil

June 13, 2013

Juan Pablo Spinetto & Christiana Sciaudone – Bloomberg, 06/12/2013

Paranapanema SA (PMAM3), Brazil’s biggest refined copper producer and best stock in the past year, is switching to ships from trucks. While the change almost triples transport times, it cuts costs by 21 percent by eliminating a threat found on Brazilian roads: Thieves.

Paranapanema is transporting 65 percent of its domestic deliveries by ship this year; last year it sent nothing by sea. The Dias D’Avila, Brazil-based company plans to move 80 percent by water at year’s end after 15 loads were hijacked along roads in 2012, interim Chief Executive Officer Edson Monteiro said.

“There are a lot of trucks stolen, a lot of violence — we invest a lot in security,” he said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro. “Nothing has been done in the past 10 years to improve transportation by roads. Brazil is very weak on this issue.”

Read more…


Brazilian cities hit by crack epidemic

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.

Read more…


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,347 other followers

%d bloggers like this: