Rio: Still Rolling in the Tanks

Statistics show that direct clashes have been more common than has been the use of intelligence services. In 2007, the Rio police killed 40% more, arrested 23% less in comparison with the first three months of the previous year, apprehended 9% fewer drugs and 8% fewer weapons. Stray-bullet incidents are on the rise.

Polícia de Cabral privilegia ação de confronto: The Folha de S. Paulo‘s Rio bureau chief Sergio Torres, with reporting from Rafael Gomide, Luiz Fernando Vianna and Márcia Brasil, reports that the Rio de Janeiro state government led by Sergio “The Caveirão is History” Cabral has failed to arrest the pattern of confrontational, repressive police operations in the city and state, despite promises to the contrary.

When the Brazilian government tried to revoke the journalist’s visa of the New York Times’ Larry Rohter, by the way, then-Sen. Cabral sponsored legal measures to block the decision.

Gomide in particular has been singled out for sinister criticisms from the military “Netroots” for reporting he has done on questions of police and military corruption. Reporting of this kind is risky.

You recall that the state public security secretary, Mr. Beltrame, recently praised a police action that foiled an drug-gang invasion without a shot being fired. See my translation of Rio: “Armed Forces Personnel May Be Training Drug Soldiers.”

This is the exception rather than the rule, however, according to the Folha‘s team, which appears to be giving voice to Mr. Beltrame’s battle to hold his boss, the Governor, to his campaign promises.

The Governor proposed a military intervention, as you recall, that would have effectively cut the state public security department out of the loop, subordinating it to military commanders.

If I were your correspondent in Rio de Janeiro, my filings would include interviews with experts on this side of the question.

The dispatches of Larry Rohter and Peter Muello of the Associated Press do not, and indeed, frequently repeat, verbatim, the talking points of the hard men in their hog heaven. Without sourcing them.

Why is that?

Why is it that American newspaper readers regularly hear only from apologists for criminal paramilitary organizations, like Juan Forero of the Washington Post Foreign Service in Colombia?

Why is it that American newspapers are being channeled the editorial line of Globo TV, for example?

For the quality of Globo journalism on this question, for example, see NMM(-TV)SNBCNNBS: The Cops of Fox x Globo’s BOPE.

The Folha reports:

Governo completa 152 dias optando por operações de enfrentamento, mas obtém mais sucesso ao atuar respaldado por investigações

Goverment marks 152 days in office in which it has opted for confrontation but secured more success with actions based on investigation and intelligence.

Em operações isoladas, polícia do Rio prende e apreende mais do que em 30 dias de cerco sem foco em favelas da zona norte

In isolated operations, Rio police arrest and seize more drug dealers, drugs and weapons than in 30 days of unfocused siege in the shantytowns of the northern district.

Após 152 dias da posse do governo de Sérgio Cabral Filho (PMDB), a política de segurança do Rio de Janeiro se deparou, num conjunto de favelas da zona norte, com o dilema entre a freqüência de confrontos sem inteligência e espasmos de atuação inteligente.

152 days after Gov. Cabral (PMDB) took office, security policy in Rio de Janeiro, in a complex of shantytowns in the Northern District, has run up against a dilemma between frequent clashes lacking any intelligence support and sporadic bouts of intelligent action.

Um mês de megaoperação com mais de mil policiais no Complexo do Alemão resultou em 55 feridos, 17 mortos, dez suspeitos presos, 13 armas e 240 quilos de drogas apreendidos. Ontem, em uma operação calcada nos serviços de inteligência, a polícia do Rio foi mais profícua em poucas horas do que tem sido em mais de 30 dias de cerco nas favelas do complexo.

One month of a megaoperation with more than 1,000 police in the Complexo do Alemão area resulted in 55 wounded, 17 death, 10 arrests, and the seizure of 13 weapons and 240 kilos of drugs. Yesterday, in an operation based on criminal intelligence, the Rio police produced more results in a few hours than in 30 days of siege in the Northern District shantytowns.

Sem estardalhaço, sete acusados de tráfico foram presos na Ilha do Governador, zona norte, sendo cinco ex-pára-quedistas do Exército. Um deles Marcelo Soares de Medeiros, o Marcelo PQD, é apontado pela polícia como chefe de facção do tráfico e responsável por repassar táticas de guerrilha no treinamento de “soldados” do tráfico no Alemão.

Without any violence, seven accused drug traffickers were arrested on Governor’s Island, Northern District, five of them former Army paratroopers. One of them, Marcelo PQD, is pointed to as head of a drug gang who trained drug “soldiers” of the Complexo do Alemão in guerrilla tactics.

O secretário de Segurança do Estado, José Mariano Beltrame, disse que, mesmo nos serviços de inteligência, há necessidade de “dar tiros”: “A inteligência que se produz na Vila Cruzeiro é a mesma do que as das operações da Polícia Federal, só que o meu problema está na execução. Eu não posso pinçar um barraco ou dois para fora da Vila Cruzeiro”.

State public security secretary Beltrame said that even in intelligence-based operations it can be necessary to “fire some shots”: “The intelligence produced in the Vila Cruzeiro is the same as that used in federal police operations, except that my problem is in the execution. I cannot wiretap a shanty or two from outside the Vila Cruzeiro.”

You could monitor cell phones, though.

Estatísticas mostram que os confrontos têm sido mais comuns do que o uso dos serviços de inteligência. Em 2007, a polícia fluminense matou 40% mais, prendeu 23% menos em comparação com os três primeiros meses do ano passado, apreendeu 9% menos drogas e 8% menos armas. Cresceram os casos de bala perdida.

Statistics show that direct clashes have been more common than has been the use of intelligence services. In 2007, the Rio police killed 40% more, arrested 23% less in comparison with the first three months of the previous year, apprehended 9% fewer drugs and 8% fewer weapons. Stray-bullet incidents are on the rise.

No Complexo do Alemão e nas favelas da Penha vivem mais de 150 mil pessoas. Estima-se que menos de 1% tenha envolvimento com o tráfico. Com a operação policial, os lojistas calculam perdas de R$ 5 milhões, os imóveis se desvalorizaram em 30%, o lixo não vem sendo recolhido, o abastecimento de água está precário, telefones fixos não funcionam e a luz chegou a ser cortada.

More than 150,000 live in the Alemão complex and the shantytowns of Penha. It is estimated that fewer than 1% are involved in the drug traffic. With the police operation, retailers calculate lost business of some R$5 million, real estate has declined 30% in value, the trash is not being collected, the water supply is precarious, telephone lines do not work and the electricity has even been cut off.

The unofficial funk carioca anthem of BOPE:

Hey, man in black,
What is your mission?
To go to the favela
And leave corpses on the ground.

Even more shocking are some of the training chants of BOPE recruits, with verses about how to torture confessions out of afavelados and marginais and “kill ’em all and let God sort them out.”

If you put footage of the NYPD Hercules police being trained like that on local TV, Mayor Bloomberg would be wearing the proverbial hell toupé. And rightly so.

New York City currently has an annual murder rate of 4 per 100,000. And New York City is no paradise on earth, either, let me tell you that. Especially the outer boroughs.
Rio’s is ten times that.

Not even the U.S. military trains recruits in the way portrayed in Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket anymore. But BOPE apparently does.


The caveirão (’giant skull’): Quality is job one


Portrait of a career Judy Millerist: Sucking up to the people whose spending of your taxpayer dollars abroad the press is supposed to cover objectively. “The New York Times‘ South American correspondent Larry Rohter, right, with U.S. Chargé D’Affaires James Nealon during a courtesy call at the U.S. Embassy Montevideo, August 18, 2006.” Source: U.S. Dept. of State.

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