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June 28, 2011

Comments

Micaela

I live in Meier, in the Zona Norte. Here, things have gotten progressively worse, as the UPPs that comprise the "security perimeter" (largely in the South and Center Zones) have driven traficantes into the UPP-free comunidades deeper into the North and West Zones.

If you look at homicide statistics for towns in the Lakes Region, you'll notice they, along with petty theft, carjackings, and violent assault - have gone up. As have homicides in the Northeast, where some traficantes have made their way.

Drug-related crime and violence is no longer a problem endemic to the city of Rio de Janeiro. If the short-sighted policies of Beltrame and Paes continue, conditions may improve in Rio, but this will be at the expense of the security of the rest of the RM, state, and country.

Nicole

In and around Penha things have gotten "safer" since the military invasion last year. Even though the troops walking and driving around leave me feeling rather uncomfortable, they have been keeping things calm enough that you see more people out in the streets walking and running in the morning and out at night than I remember seeing in a long time.

I think most people in the neighborhood would agree that less violent crime in the areas surrounding the favelas, especially mugging, has increased since November as the bandidos look for other forms of income, but voilent and gang realted crime is definitely down. In the last two months I have heard tiro only once. It used to be a nightly occassion and sometimes even happened during the day making it impossible to leave the house.

I would much rather lose my cellphone than be hit by a stray bullet and I prefer hearing about people loosing some cash to hearing about them losing their lives, so I'd say the change has been for the better even though there is still a lot of room for improvement. Judging by the huge number of people who seem to be moving back to Leopoldinha (penha, bonsucesso, ramos, olaria)I don't think I'm in the minority on this.

Micaela

I would also add that there is a potential downward bias in any homicide statistic published by a government organization or government affiliate: they do not include the nearly 25,000 people on the city's registry of missing people. I would be interested in seeing a re purposed homicide statistic for Rio that includes those reported "missing" (read: quite possibly killed by police, BOPE, milicia, or traficantes). I'm not sure Rio would come out ahead of any other capital, should these "missing" be included in the data.

Rio Gringa

Excellent points Micaela. Thanks for the insight.

Micaela

Nicole, I agree...mostly.

I used to work in the Complexo do Alemao (which I accessed via Penha/Ramos) in the pre-occupation days. I have since heard that the incidence of violent crime in those neighborhoods is indeed down. The problem is, the improvements are occurring in a select few "security poles" around the city, namely, neighborhoods with nearby UPPs, neighborhoods lying within the mega-event "security belt" and the Complexo (post-police occupation). BUT, when you consider what other areas of the city are experiencing - such as the militia-dominated Zona Oeste neighborhoods such as Cosmos - it's hard to have a positive outlook. In many areas, the milicia have filled security vacuums left by traficantes who were driven out by the PMs, and routinely threaten residents with violence, extort exorbitant fees for "security" and utility provision, and impose strict sanctions on neighborhood residents. It's hard to make the argument that traficantes are "better" than the milicia, or vice versa, but to me, nothing is more terrifying than not knowing your enemy. The milicia are a shadowy parallel power, and it's nearly impossible to ID them and bring them to justice for a number of reasons, with fear being reason #1. At least with the traficantes, one knows who they are, where they live, and how they operate. The enemy you don't know, to me, is more terrifying than the one you do.

The UPPs will not be a sustainable solution. A grim cost-benefit analysis aside, you don't have to dig very deep to discover that violent crime, trafficking, and homicide is still occurring in comundidades in which UPPs have been installed. Even O Globo features weekly articles on the violence that continues to plague communities with UPP, so you know everything Globo says is just the tip of the iceberg. In the past ten days, violent assualts and a military-style execution were reported in Prazeres and Cantagalo, respectively. Go into Dona Marta, Nova Brasilia, Borel, wherever, and you'll hear (off the record) that traficantes are still there. The ones that aren't have simply moved to other areas (like the 8 ex-Mangueira traficantes that were killed this past Sunday in a police operation in the West Zone).

The media does an excellent job of making the average Carioca think that Beltrame's tactics are a resounding success. But dig a little deeper, and you'll find the truth is not quite as rosy.

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