Amnesty: Brazilian cities are “violent fiefdoms”

Amnesty International published a report this week exposing Brazil’s public security crisis. “Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo have reached a tragic impasse. Criminal gangs … have rushed to fill the vacuum left by the state, Balkanizing the cities into a patchwork of violent fiefdoms,” the report (“From Burning Buses to Caveirões”: The Search for Human Security”) stated. [AI, May 2]

Responding to the report, Rio Gov. Sergio Cabral told reporters that police are making welcomed advances in areas dominated by drug gangs. “Security is a priority for our government,” said Cabral. “In regard to the police in the communities, its because the communities want them there. Because of historic conditions these communities are dominated by drug traffickers who are a minority in these areas. We are acting with rigor because the communities want that.” [AP, May 2]

About 350 troops, some armed with machine guns and backed up by armored vehicles and a helicopter raided a slum in Rio last week. Reuters reported that “the government is due to decide this month whether to deploy troops in the city on a long-term mission.” Among Amnesty’s concerns is the growing “criminalization of poverty”, “a lack of a coherent, long-term public security policy that focuses on the root causes of violence and social exclusion,” and a rise in “para-police” groups patrolling the streets. [Reuters, May 2]

Cyril Mychalejko for Upside Down World, May 3

See our last posts on Brazil and its urban crisis.