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Favelados in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

NCJ Number
Policing & Society Volume: 10 Issue: 1 Dated: April 2000 Pages: 121-130
Jorge Da Silva
Date Published
April 2000
10 pages
This article discusses crime, police violence, and race in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
The government in Rio de Janeiro has taken a series of repressive and counter-productive police actions, including the deployment of armed forces, to combat the increasing problem of violent crime. The proposals for reform fail to take into account the societal and institutional problems that lead to police misconduct. The major problems are Brazil’s myth of the racial democracy, Rio’s economic and racial division, the centralization of the police force, and its militarization. Many Brazilians believe that there are no racial problems in their country. To improve policing in Rio, political leaders need to contend with the fact that the city has severe racial divisions. Rio is one of the most divided cities economically. Upper and middle class neighborhoods line the beaches, but about a third of the population live in slums and squatter settlements, known as favelas. Conditions in the favelas include inadequate sanitation, running water, education, and transportation. The vast majority of people in the favelas are minorities while most people in the wealthy neighborhoods are white. The police are forced to navigate the chasm between these two communities. Social division poses a great barrier to reform and attempts at reform should aim to bridge the gap between the two communities. Local communities are largely dependent on decisions made at the Federal level. Cities and municipalities do not maintain police forces. Policing, consisting of civil police and military police, is primarily a state function. The style of policing varies although the management of the state force is centralized. Brazil is part of an authoritarian and militaristic region. Because of the militarization of the police, no internal or external force exerts sufficient control over officers’ behavior. Police do little to meet the needs of poor people in the favelas that endure violent crime, the despotism of drug lords, and police brutality. 10 footnotes, 4 references