Rio: “Chairman” Maia On Headhunting By Helicopter


Capt. Guimarães (l.) — a military torturer turned king of the
jogo do bicho – with Rio mayor Cesar “Chairman” “The Naked” Maia (second from left): Fat Tuesday and the Rede Globo meet the hog heaven of the hard men.

The “ex-blog” of Rio de Janeiro mayor Cesar “Chairman” “The Naked” Maia — his son is the leader of the DEM-PFL in the federal congress, and I am starting to think of the man himself as what might result if you packed Jorge Hank Rhon of Tijuana off to Oxford to read political economy, like Tarzan in the original E.R. Burroughs novels — arrives in the inbox today with what purports to be a letter from a state judicial policeman on a controversial recent antinarco operation in the shantytowns.

It has been really noteworty of late that the civilian judicial police — the Policia Civil — have been taking the lead in operations that were once the exclusive — and jealously guarded — competence of the state military police.

This after 10% of the manpower of a military police battalion was arrested for being equity partners in the drug trade in their area of operation.

For example, last week, the PC ran some sort of armed probe of the Morro da Mineira, in Catumbi, near downtown Rio, where earlier this year the morning commute was interrupted by scenes straight out of the Battle of Hue.

“Our men, honed to a razor’s edge as they are, are trained not to use supressing fire in full rock ‘n’ roll mode in populated areas,” huffs an indignant PM spokesman.

The TV news, meanwhile, ran images of cops rocking ‘n’ rolling in all general directions like it was New Year’s Eve in Baghdad until the playback heads on their VCRs started smoking.

After the bandidos were perp-walked for the media, amid lots and lots of triumphalist sturm und drang, the purported leader of an attempted invasion of gang turf was quietly let go. See

The president of the Rio chapter of the Order of Brazilian Attorneys made some shrill noises himself recently about an incident that received a lot of national media exposure — a helicopter targeted and killed two fleeing bandidos. The debate over whether this action was within the rules of engagement or not has tended to be drowned out by the rhetoric of hysterical virginity. See also

Maia’s ex-PFL and the governor’s PMDB are bitter political rivals, and municipal elections are coming up, so there are political angles to consider as well.

The assassination of police inspector Tostes, for example — the head of the militia (and bingo and cooking gas and pirate cable TV and underground van service industries) in Rio das Pedras may have been the result of a political rivalry in which Tostes was no longer willing to deliver his patronage votes to the ex-PFL — preferring to support Lins of the PMDB.

Who is now under investigation for being an equity partner in the bicho and caça-níqueis rackets. See

Specifically at issue in the falling out with a rival political cacique: Whether Tostes would support Rodrigo Maia (the mayor’s son) for Congress or not.

It is astonishing to see the mayor of a major world city apparently spending most of his time blogging in a journalistic style that will be very familiar to aficionados of some of the more garish regional Mexican tabloids!

Punctuating every single headline and sentence with exclamation points!

CERCO DE HELICÓPTERO E POLÍTICA DE SEGURANÇA PÚBLICA!

Helicopter siege and public security policy!

E-mail enviado por policial civil que participou da última operação! Termos alterados por este Ex-Blog para não identificá-lo!

E-mail sent by a state judicial policeman who was in on the latest operation! We have altered it for this ex-blog in order to avoid identifying him!

How extensively has he altered it?

How are we supposed to confirm that the guy did not write the whole thing himself? Not everyone tends to number their paragraphs — in the style of Wittenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus — the way the Naked Mayor does.

1. As imagens de um helicóptero cercando dois delinquentes, em carreira desabalada morro abaixo, e metralhando-os, só não foi mais forte porque o som foi cortado para a edição na TV. Foi uma ação certa ou errada? Depende. A pergunta deveria ser: foi uma ação coerente com a política de segurança pública adotada?

1. The images of a helicopter cutting off two criminals as they fled down the hillside, and machine-gunning them, was not more sensational only because the TV news cut out the soundtrack. Was this action right or wrong? It depends. The question really ought to be: Was it consistent with the current policy, as adopted?

2. Para simplificar, deve-se comparar dois tipos de política -polares- de segurança pública. Uma delas focaliza os bandidos e entende que deve-se eliminar -prender, se puder, ou abatê-los. É a política de confronto. Entende que só a repressão direta aos bandidos, desintegra o narcovarejo e normaliza o mercado de drogas, trazendo-o para os padrões de uma grande cidade européia ou norte-americana. As drogas acompanhadas de armas pesadas produzem o pânico por seu uso específico no narcovarejo no ERJ.

2. To put it simply, two types of security policy — polar opposites — should be compared. One of them focuses on the bandits and assumes that what is needed is to eliminate them — arrest them, if possible, or else put them down. It is a policy of confrontation. This approach is based on the belief that only direct repression of bandits can break up the retail drug trade and normalize the market in narcotics, bringing it down to the level of a big American or European city. Drugs, in combination with heavy weapons, produce panic in the state specifically because of their use in the narco-retail sector.

3. A eliminação de quem as porta liquidaria este tipo de rede de oferta e o pânico que produz, pela percepção que gera de um quadro de guerra com suas imagens subsequentes.

The elimination of those who carry heavy weapons would liquidate this supply network, along with the panic it produces by creating the perception of a state of war, and images that reinforce this perception.

4. De certa maneira foi essa a política de segurança pública adotada entre 1995 e 1998 no ERJ, liderada pelo general Cerqueira e que independente de julgamentos reduziu o número de homicídios, mudando este índice de patamar, ao aumentar o número de mortes e desaparições de delinquentes. Não draguem o rio Morto, diziam. A percepção na época era que finalmente os bandidos estavam correndo e com medo da polícia.

4. To a certain extent this was the public security policy adopted between 1995 and 1998 in the state, led by Gen. Cerqueira, and which, [independently of legal proceedings?], reduced the number of homicides … by increasing the number of deaths and disappearances of criminals. Do not dredge up the River Death, they said. The perception at the time was that at long last the bandidos were on the run and afraid of the police.

5. A atual equipe -com a cúpula originária da policia federal e com experiência em “inteligência policial”- assumiu este ano e sinalizou que estava introduzindo uma política de segurança pública em base a “inteligência”. Como se sabe, a “inteligência policial” é -pode-se dizer, o inverso da “investigação policial”. Esta trabalha em cima do “dado” conhecido, ou seja, o delito ocorrido, e busca identificar os responsáveis. A “inteligência” trabalha com o “dado negado”, e -principalmente através de infiltrações- procura identificar os elementos básicos da gang- e surpreendê-los com uma ação que atinja sua medula, seja sua logística, seja sua cabeça.

5. The current team — with a leadership that comes from the federal police, with experience in “police intelligence” — took over this year and signalled it was introducing a policy of public security based on “intelligence.” As you know, “police intelligence” is, you might say, the inverse of “police investigation.” The latter is based on a given fact, that is, in response to crimes already committed, and tries to find those responsible. The former works on a [preventive] basis and — mainly through infiltration — tries to identify the fundamental elements of the gang and to surprise them with a raid that hits them in the sweet spot, whether it be their logistics operation or their leadership.

6. Por isso, a atual equipe alardeia tanto que está identificando os paióis e os depósitos de drogas, e ao final das ações, mostra o que recuperou. Mesmo que até aqui os números de apreensões de armas e drogas não sejam diferentes dos anos anteriores, as ações progressivas, poderão no futuro demonstrar o acerto da política adotada.

6. For this reason, the current team boasts that it is locating arms and drugs caches, and when such operations conclude, it displays the material it recovered. Even though up until now the amount of drugs and guns seized are no different than in prior years, these progressive actions could, in the future, demonstrate that the policy was the correct one.

7. O que está desorientando as forças policiais do ERJ, é o zig zag das ações realizadas. Ou seja: às vezes os policiais acham que a política de segurança tem o foco na inteligência; às vezes acham que o foco é o confronto. Essa desorientação, no mínimo, reduz a produtividade policial. A última operação foi exemplo disso. Monta-se uma ampla operação para desativar um grande paiol e encontrar drogas. O resultado -nesse sentido- foi pífio. Mas há a possibilidade de se encontrar documentos com informações importantes para a desmontagem futura. Como as apreensões tem sido pífias, estes documentos são apresentados à imprensa justificando o que foi feito.

7. What is confusing to the state police forces, however, is the zig-zag of the actions being carried out. That is to say: Sometime cops think the policy focuses on intelligence, but at other times it seems to focus on confrontation. This cofnusion, at a minimum, reduces police productivity. The last operation was an example. A full-blow raid was organized to take down a big arms cache and find drugs. The results, in that sense, were piffling. But there is a chance that documents with important information to orient future actions may have been found. So, while the seizures were piffling, the documents are presented to the press as justifying the action taken.

8. No entanto, em cada operação dessas, o viés percebido tanto pelos policiais como pela imprensa, é a política de confronto. Com isso se perde a orientação e se sinaliza para as forças policiais, para os delinquentes, e para a opinião publica, com fatos -e fotos- divergentes. O esforço para eliminar aqueles dois ou três delinquentes que fugiam do helicóptero foi desproporcional e desperdício (num quadro em que a DRE diz que são 30 mil na RMRJ). O que prevaleceu nestas operações desde o cerco (?) ao Alemão até a caça de helicóptero?

8. However, in each operation of this kind, what both police and the news media perceive as the real bias is the policy of confrontation. With this, guidance and control are lost and everyone — police, criminals and public opinion — received mixed messages from these events, and published images portraying them. The force used to eliminate those two or three fleeing bandits was disproportional and wasteful … Which approach has predominated in these operations from the siege [?] of the Alemão complex to the “helicopter hunt” incident?

9. E policiais de maior experiência começam a se perguntar: a) qual a política de segurança pública? b) há política de segurança pública? Ou voltamos ao pantanoso campo do pragmatismo?

9. Policemen with more experience are starting to ask themselves: (a) what is our public security policy? (b) Do we even have a public security policy? Or are we returned to the swampy ground of “pragmatism”?

Well, there you have it. That actually does sound similar to analyses of the situation you have read elsewhere, so it seems to me it could well reflect the actual views of a thoughtful front-line Rio cop. Mutatis mutandis, as the Naked Mayor says.

What I tend to find surprising, reading a fair amount of the newsflow on all this, is the astonishing degree of insubordination in the relationship between policymakers and the people who get paid (badly, as they say, with good reason) to execute that policy. At various levels of government, but in Rio it seems to take the form of a spectacular gran guignol.

The author of the following words, for example, is currently (last I read) something like the state undersecretary for strategic law enforcement planning:

NGOs dream of using the criminal power and the weapons of the traffic in favor of a social revolution they deem to be imminent and inevitable … It is needful for us not to heed their caveats, and to assume the risks and the collateral damage. It would be impossible to be more explicit than the words of Gov. Sergio Cabral about the narcotraffickers: “They are terrorists, they are evildoers.” – Col. Mário Sérgio de Brito Duarte, former commander of BOPE, the “trooper elite” of the Rio military police — unofficial but highly publicized motto: “We kill to create a better world” – and currently in charge of strategic planning for SESEG, Rio de Janeiro. See BOPE Blogs: “Only the Hard Men Can Save the City”

Cabral actually looks nothing like George W. Bush — he looks more like the actor Paul Sorvino — so it is unlikely that the Major saw Dubya on CNN and mistook him for the Guv. But the rhetoric sounds awfully familiar, does it not?

To put it plainly: You have senior military police officials — some of them seconded to positions in the civilian government — who maintain Web logs.

On these Web logs, they seem to indicate pretty clearly, appealing directly to the e-reading public, that if the men in uniform do not care for the policies implemented by elected officials, then those elected officials can pretty much just go fuck themselves.

The rhetoric of these people tends to speak for itself:

If we want to change this reality once and for all, we need to accept the challenge without hesitation, and liberate, even if it is “by the sword,” the population from the clutches of crime, as we are doing in the Complexo do Alemão, liberating it from horror. If we wish to have a clean conscience, free of the vulgar regrets of those who hide behind seductive fallacies, such as those that camouflage ineptitude and incompetence, we must dare to be free, even as we weep at the pain of those who offer up their own flesh to the hot steel, as have the police who have fallen these last months, watering the soil with blood and honor so that the seeds of peace may be sown. The Alemão will be liberated. It belongs to Rio. It belongs to Brazil. –Lt. Col. Mário Sérgio de Brito Duarte, former commander of BOPE and currently in charge of strategic planning, he says, for Rio de Janeiro’s state department of public safety.

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