Increased Security in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics

Rio de Janeiro, the primary location for the 2016 Summer Olympics, has been rated “Critical” for crime by the U.S.A.’s State Department for the past 25 years, and statistics for 2012 indicate rising levels of crime in the categories of robbery, rape, fraud and residential thefts.[1] However, Rio’s crime situation may change for the better. In 2008, after the bids for both the World Cup and Summer Olympics were secured, Brazil introduced a “Police Pacification Program” to quell high crime rates and help ensure FIFA, the Olympic Committee and tourists that Brazil would serve as a great host.

Police Pacification Units (UPPs) are specially trained and recruited community police officers that enter and establish a permanent presence in favelas (slums or ghettos) with the goal of expelling drug gang members and other armed criminal elements. The government and independent social investments fund these programs. Since their introduction in 2008, the homicide rate in Rio has dropped significantly from 42 homicides per 100,000 in 2005 to 24 homicides per 100,000 in 2012.[2] Additionally, property values in favelas and bordering areas where UPPs are stationed have increased 5.8 percent between 2008 and 2012.[3]

Public perception of UPPs is generally quite favorable. In fact, according to a 2010 survey conducted by the Brazilian Institute for Social Research of 16 favelas with UPPs and 44 without, more than 90 percent of respondents affirmed that their communities were safer with an established UPP. Over 70 percent more claimed that their lives had greatly improved due to the UPPs, and almost three quarters of residents in non-UPP favelas were supportive of installing a similar operation in their communities.[4]

Prominent Brazilin figures have also voiced their support for the increased presence of UPPs. For example, Eike Batista, one of the world’s wealthiest men and well-known Brazilin oil tycoon, describes the UPP as “a fantastic concept… a model for Brazil and maybe even the world.”[5] As of 2013, Batista committed more than R$100 million ($51 million) over a five-year period in order to help the police train new UPP officers, build the necessary bases in pacified communities, and buy the equipment necessary for pacification.[6] However, Batista fell victim to some financial troubles recently. In fact, according to Bloomberg Business Week, Batista lost approximately $35 billion from 2012 – 2013, and currently has a net worth of negative $1 billion. In August 2013, his EBX group declared that they could no longer maintain their promise to contribute R$20 million annually to the UPP program.[7]

In short, these programs seem to be going in the right direction. But questions pertaining to their effectiveness and permanent presence after the 2016 Olympics still remain. For example, although there was a decrease in homicides since the introduction of UPPs, there has been an increase in resident disappearances. For example, before the establishment of UPPs, there were 85-recorded disappearances. Data from 2011 now records a leap to 133.[8] Corruption within UPPs is also a serious concern. Prosecutors in the recent “Amarildo” case concluded that 25 military police officers from the Rocinha UPP were involved in a [bricklayer’s] torture and death, whose body has yet to be found.[9]

During the 2015 IEDP in Brazil, the security group will interview political officials, UPP officers and citizens in both UPP occupied and unoccupied areas to evaluate this situation. Please comment on this blog should you have any questions or ideas pertaining to this research project.

Matt Ericson
MPP/MS ’16


[1] US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security. https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=13966

[2] US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security. https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=13966

[3] Crime, House Prices, and Inequality: The Effect of UPPs in Rio de Janeiro, Frischtak and Mandel, 2012. Pages 17 and 29

[4],[5],[6] Stabilization in Rio de Janeiro, Cano et al. 2012, published in Stabilization Operations, Security and Development: States of Fragility. Page 206 and 207

[7] http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-03/eike-batista-how-brazils-richest-man-lost-34-dot-5-billion#p5

[8] Before the establishment of UPPs, there were 85-recorded disappearances. Data from 2011 now records a leap to 133. http://www.rioonwatch.org/?p=12748

[9] Prosecutors in the “Amarildo” case concluded that 25 military police officers from the Rocinha UPP were involved in the [bricklayer’s] torture and death, whose body has yet to be found. http://www.rioonwatch.org/?p=12748


Please consider making a tax-exempt donation to help fund IEDP’s trip to Brazil. Your gift is indispensable and will help defray critical program costs. To make a secure donation through the University of Michigan, follow this link, enter the amount of your donation, and type “for IEDP” as a comment on the next screen.

Advertisements

One thought on “Increased Security in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics

  1. Pingback: UPPs Take on Social Development | IEDP Brazil

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s