Rio: Governor Cabral on “The Trooper Elite”

Cabral: “Tropa de elite” é um choque de realidade: The governor of Rio de Janeiro tells an O Globo blogger that the forthcoming film The Trooper Elite is “a shock of reality.”

Oddly, the front-page headline pointing to the blog entry suggests the opposite: It seems to suggest that the governor is saying that the film is not a realistic depiction of the Rio police force as it exists today.

Cabral: polícia não é como em ‘Tropa de elite’ Governador assistiu ao filme polêmico e diz, no blog de Mauro Ventura, que a história já mudou. Será? Leia a entrevista completa

Cabral: The police are not like what is shown in the movie. The governor sees the controversial film and says, on Mauro Ventura’s blog, that the story has already changed. But has it?

The Dawn Eden phenomenon — I refer to the peculiar case of the New York Post copy editor fired (or martyred to the gospel truth on the pyre of secular humanism, as her supporters are fond of blogging) for adding last-minute slant to news coverage — is not infrequently observed at the likes of O Globo. So which headline best characterizes the governor’s actual comments?

Não sei se vocês repararam, mas nesta madrugada, mais precisamente à 1h57m, o governador Sérgio Cabral escreveu para este blog. Ele tinha acabado de ver “Tropa de elite”, numa sessão com o diretor do filme, José Padilha, na casa de amigos comuns. Abriu o computador e escreveu num dos comentários:

I don’t know if you noticed, but in the early morning hours today — at 1:57 am, to be precise — Governor Cabral wrote to this blog. He had just seen The Trooper Elite in a private session with director José Padilha at the house of some friends they have in common. He fired up his computer and wrote in one of the comments:

“Prezado Mauro, acabo de assistir ao filme junto com o seu diretor José Padilha. Excelente como obra cinematográfica e verdadeiro na exposição dos graves problemas que enfrentamos no âmbito da segurança pública.

Dear Mauro, I just saw the film with its director. An excellent piece of filmmaking and true to life in its exposition of the serious problems we confront in the area of public security.

Enfrentar e vencer esses desafios, que não são fáceis, tem sido uma obstinação de toda minha equipe de governo.

Taking on and winning these challenges, which are not easy, has been has been an obstinate goal of my government.

Signed, Sérgio Cabral Filho.”

De manhã, liguei para o governador. Queria mais detalhes. Ele estava a caminho de Piraí, mas sua assessora disse que ele retornaria mais tarde.

I called the governor in the morning, wanting more details. He was heading off to Piraí, but his aide said he would get back to me later.

Cumpriu o prometido. Batemos um papo sobre o filme:

He kept his word. We chatted a little about the film.

O que o senhor achou de “Tropa de elite”?

What did you think about The Trooper Elite?

– Gostei muito. Em primeiro lugar, como obra cinematográfica. Porque não adianta nada se não tiver qualidade. Vai tudo por água abaixo. Se for ruim, o que está dito não vale nada. Além disso, ele nos leva a refletir sobre a segurança pública.

I liked it a lot. Above all as a piece of filmmaking. There’s no point unless there’s real quality. Everything goes down the drain otherwise. If it is badly done, its message is wasted. Further, it makes us reflect on public security.

O que mais o impressionou? A corrupção, a tortura, a bagunça nos batalhões, o estado da frota?

What impressed you most about it? The corruption, the torture, the mess in the police battalions, the state of the vehicle fleet?

– Tudo me impressionou. A que ponto nós chegamos.

It all impressed me. The point we have come to.

E o que está sendo feito?

So what is being done?

– Já estamos recuperando a segurança. Esta polícia que está no filme não é mais a nossa. Estamos, por exemplo, fazendo operações policiais permanentes, e não mais pontuais.

We are now recovering public security. That police you see in the film is no longer the one we have. We are, for example, doing permanent operations, no longer merely reactive , one-off operations.

O que mais?

What else?

– Estamos punindo os maus policiais, afastando muita gente. Só este ano mais de 150 já foram para a rua.

We are punishing bad cops, sending a lot of people packing. In this year alone more than 150 have been kicked out.

E com relação às patamos e patrulhinhas, que estão caindo aos pedaços?

And what about the patrol cars, which are falling to to pieces?

– Ainda essa semana vai ser publicado o edital de licitação, que vai terceirizar a frota. Outra coisa importante é tirar o eixo político da polícia. Despolitizamos a escolha dos comandantes e delegados (a título de explicação para o leitor: em outras administrações, havia comandantes e delegados indicados por políticos, o que provocava mais corrupção, porque eles tinham que arrecadar dinheiro para a campanha eleitoral de quem o indicou).

This very week we are going to publish the bid solicitation for outsourcing the vehicle fleet. Another important step is getting the political factor out of the police. We depoliticized the selection of commanders and precinct captains. (Note to reader: in other administrations, some commanders and precinct captains were nominated by politicans, which caused more corruption because they had to raise campaign money for the politician who got them the job.)

On which see also

A conversa teve que ser interrompida. O tempo era curto, ele tinha que ir a uma escola que recebeu 400 computadores, inaugurar um conjunto habitacional e uma delegacia de polícia “5 estrelas”, ver uma quadra poliesportiva que foi reformada, entre outros compromissos de governo. Cabral, que tinha brincado dizendo que vai transformar Piraí num principado, concluiu:

Our conversation was interrupted. Time was short, he had to go to a school and take delivery of 400 computers, inaugurate a housing project and a “five-star” police precinct, go see a multiuse sports facility that is being renovated, and other official acts. Cabral, who joked that he is going to transform Piraí into a principality, concluded:

– “Tropa de elite” é um choque de realidade que envolve toda a sociedade.

This film is a shock of reality that involves society as a whole.

And there it is: your movie-poster blurb. “Riveting! Spine-chilling!” –Marvin “Blogola” Flakk, The Hollywood Gusher. “A shock of reality that everyone should see.” –Gov. Sérgio Cabral Filho.

Interesting interview. The promised reality-test of the Governor’s claims to be taking effective action against the kinds of police corruption and ultraviolence never materializes, however. Whoever wrote that cover line was writing checks that the actual journalism failed to cash.

It is a minor point, but these things add up over time.

Cabral’s public remarks on these matters since taking office have caused controversy at times — especially at times when he has echoed the rhetoric of “no one dead was innocent” with regard to police killings in which no credible inquiry could be performed because — an old, old story — no evidence was collected and crime scenes were disturbed.

He has appeared to back off direct challenges to his police at times, especially after a remarkable public dressing down, early on, in which he made the PM assume the responsibility for a rather spectactular tourist-bus hijacking on the main airport highway on the very day the PM rolled out a high-profile step-up of patrols.

When elements inside your police, as news reports suggest, seem to be running mobbed-up protection rackets and death squads on the side, I think maybe asserting civilian control can get a little hairy.

In the first week of the governor’s tenure, reports came out that his state health secretary had been targeted for assassination, for example.

He seemed to want to know something about autopsy reports in those proverbial cases of “resistance followed by death” as reported by police involved in shootings. The plot was attributed to unnamed persons who might object to such skeptical inquiries.

And when the governor’s personal bodyguard was murdered in an armed robbery, he surprised many of his advisers by starting to call strenuously for the army on the streets.

But progress does seem to be getting made. Perhaps most importantly, there seem to be infotainment industry support for it. I will do you up a newsreel on that when I get a chance.
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