Proposal for a safer Rio: technology — or flight from human contact?

Can this work?

Boys from one of the Complexo do Alemão favelas listen to Mothers’ Day testimonies about the loss of sons to police bullets

Governor-elect Wilson Witzel declared in an interview published Sunday in O Globo that he’s never been to Rocinha favela. “I passed nearby, never went up. But you don’t need to go up to know it’s really bad there,” he said.

Para português

Witzel did nothing to soften the message; didn’t say if he has personal knowledge of any other favela. Neither did he state what exactly is bad about Rocinha. He also promised to open streets in Rio’s ten biggest favelas.

In the 2010 census we learned that more than two million people out of the state’s then-total population of 16 milllion lived in “subnormal agglomerations”, i.e., favelas. That’s 12.5% of the population. With the recession, this number may be higher today.

It’s hard to say if the new governor has ever set foot in an alley of one of the hundreds of informal areas of the state he’ll rule over (bumping into him at a restaurant last week, where he was dining at a male-only table, this blogger asked for an interview; Witzel swore half his secretaries will be women and said he was prioritizing the transition). Not that alleyways serve to fully understand favelas nor the lives of their residents, as the blog discovered in 2014.

As many UPP police must have learned, setting foot in a favela isn’t enough to bring about a definitive drop in crime and violence levels. Pacification, as implemented in some Rio favelas, never was actual proximity policing, as originally planned back in 2008.

Yes, there were soccer games and débutante balls. There were friendships and happy exchanges between residents and police. Yet we saw no protocols or lasting structures for working towards peaceful problem solving — to prevent violence and institute just and democratic behaviors for both police and residents. There were no exchanges nor collaborative projects to build trust. Residents ended up avoiding contact with UPP police.

This blogger watched and heard enough over the last eight years to conclude that “pacified” favelas lacked orientation on how to fill the power vacuum left by drug traffickers. In general, commanders and those under them improvised to fill this regulatory space. Frequently, instead of involving communities to create new, democratic problem-solving methods, they reproduced the traffickers’ prior pattern  — of maximum, unquestionable authority. Weapons topped all else.

Proximity policing implies a loss of control, some might think. Not true, if there are suitable protocols, training, and monitoring. If we’d had the chance to experience true proximity policing (as seen in many of the world’s cities), pacification would not have failed. It would have innovated, reducing crime in sustainable fashion, opening the way to other public policies that bring people together, with a range of positive results for all of society. Low-income folks suffer crime the most.

Proximity policing doesn’t solve everything. Witzel is right to say we need a stronger hand against crime. But the Rio police are ill-equipped, as this post describes. Actually, the recipe for making Rio safer is no secret. Specialists recommend sophisticated measures such as better training, equipping, paying, controlling and managing police forces; effectively using intelligence and information; integrating the judiciary and penitentiaries as actors in public safety policy and increasing the role of federal government in controlling and funding this key area of national life. One hopes the Federal Intervention has progressed in some of these areas (despite an increase in deaths). We don’t know if this is the case nor if the future governor has spoken with the generals here.

If Witzel has never been to Rocinha, intermittent locus for decades of battles among trafficking gangs and between these and police, who’s advising him on favelas and public safety? Sílvia Ramos, a key specialist in this area, doesn’t know. The  Igarapé Institute, normally part of any such conversation, isn’t involved, according to co-founder Rob Muggah. Ignacio Cano, a scholar who’s carried out important consulting projects for the state Military Police isn’t in the picture, either: “I think he has ideas of his own and a group of police likeminded officers,” he adds.

A Rio public safety specialist who preferred anonymity explains that some judges in fact are often surrounded by police officers. Police assigned to the judiciary, this person adds, sometimes build close relationships with the judges they protect. They solve problems, exchange ideas, honor them with medals, invite them to shooting ranges and to take courses with elite squad members. “At best, we’re talking about a lobby,” the person said.

Witzel’s technological approach — sharpshooters and drones flying over favelas, targeting anyone carrying a rifle — suggests advisers with limited vision. As they did during pacification, won’t traffickers adapt to the new reality of being walking targets? Back then, they went low-profile with their businesses or fled to other cities in the state, spreading violence to the West Zone and the Itaguaí-Angra dos Reis-Paraty coastal area. Nor will police bring all of them down. What happens if traffickers use residents as human shields to move around their territories?

The decision to implement such high-tech proposals, if taken, puts the responsibility on favela residents for the risks they live with daily. It will be as if the rest of Brazilian society has nothing to do with the poverty that led two million people (in Rio state) to live in informal areas, supplying cheap labor to large cities. Residents as wartime civilians, collateral damage, will have such status made formal.

Authoritarianism limits and blocks relations among people. It reinforces bubbles, minimizing the need to get one’s hands dirty, to connect with people and places that are different from one’s norm. Witzel risks, with his territorial ignorance, yet another failure for Rio de Janeiro’s public safety. He may encourage, as seen in Los Angeles and Paris, more violence, more rage and more deaths.

What about repressing the drug trade? The focus has to be on intelligence: illegal acquisition and transportation of weapons and drugs. In other words, corruption within the state’s own institutions. There, drones and sharpshooters will be of little use.

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Proposta para um Rio seguro: tecnologia — ou fuga do contato humano?

Será que dá certo?

Meninos de uma das favelas do Complexo do Alemão assistem, no Dia das Mães, a testemunhos de mães que perderam filhos a tiros de policiais

O governador eleito Wilson Witzel afirmou desconhecer a favela da Rocinha, numa entrevista publicada no jornal O Globo deste domingo. “Passei perto da Rocinha, nunca subi. Mas a gente não precisa subir para saber que lá realmente é ruim”, disse.

Witzel não amenizou a fala: deixou de dizer se conhece pessoalmente alguma outra favela. Não disse o que, exatamente, seria ruim na Rocinha. Declara também que vai abrir ruas nas dez maiores favelas do Rio.

No Censo de 2010, soubemos que pouco mais de dois milhões de pessoas da população do estado, na época quase 16 milhões, moravam em “aglomerações subnormais”, ou seja, favelas. Estamos falando de 12,5% da população. Com a crise, é possível que o número seja maior hoje.

Difícil dizer se o novo mandante jamais tenha pisado em beco ou viela de áreas informais do estado que irá governar (esbarrando com ele num restaurante semana passada, onde jantava numa mesa de companhia exclusivamente masculina, sua blogueira pediu entrevista; Witzel jurou que 50% do secretariado será mulheres e deu prioridade à transição). Não que beco sirva para plenamente entender favela nem as vidas de seus moradores, como o blog constatou em 2014.

Apenas pisar em favela, como muitos policiais de UPP devem ter descoberto, tampouco leva à queda definitiva dos níveis de crime e violência. Pacificação, como foi implementada nas favelas da capital, não chegou a ser policiamento de proximidade, como se cogitou originalmente, nos idos de 2008.

Houve jogos de futebol e bailes de debutante, sim. Houve amizades e trocas bonitas entre moradores e policiais de UPP. Faltou, porém, desenvolver protocolos e estruturas duradouras para a resolução pacífica de problemas — para prevenir a violência e instituir formas justas e democráticas de se comportar, tanto do lado policial quanto do lado dos moradores. Faltaram trocas e trabalhos em conjunto que construíssem confiança. Moradores comentaram evitar contato com os policiais de UPP.

Pelo que sua blogueira observou e ouviu nos últimos oito anos de cobertura da área de segurança pública, nas favelas “pacificadas” faltou orientação com respeito ao vácuo de poder deixado por traficantes. Em geral, comandantes e comandados preenchiam esse espaço regulatório da maneira que bem entendiam. Frequentemente, em vez de envolver comunidades na criação de novas maneiras de resolver problemas, mais democráticas, reproduziam o padrão anterior instituído por traficantes — de autoridade máxima e inquestionável. As armas continuaram a mandar.

Policiamento de proximidade implica uma perda de controle, alguns pensarão. Não é o caso, se houver protocolos, capacitação e monitoramento adequados. Se tivéssemos tido a chance de viver o verdadeiro policiamento de proximidade (como acontece em muitas cidades do mundo), a pacificação não seria o fracasso que acabou sendo. Teria sido inovadora, reduzindo o crime de forma sustentável, abrindo o caminho a outras políticas públicas que aproximam as pessoas, com uma gama de resultados positivos para toda a sociedade. Afinal, quem sofre mais com o crime é a população de baixa renda.

Policiamento de proximidade não resolve tudo. Witzel acerta quando diz que precisamos de maior firmeza contra o crime. Mas a polícia do Rio está mal equipada, conforme relata esse post. Aliás, a receita para reduzir a violência no Rio não é segredo. Especialistas recomendam medidas sofisticadas, como capacitar, equipar, remunerar, controlar e administrar melhor as polícias; utilizar inteligência e informação de forma efetiva; integrar o judiciário e as penitenciárias como atores em políticas de segurança pública e aumentar o papel federal no controle e sustento desta questão chave da vida nacional. É de se esperar que a Intervenção Federal tenha avançado em algumas destas áreas (apesar de um aumento no número de mortes). Não sabemos se é o caso nem se o futuro governador já conversou com os generais aqui.

Se Witzel desconhece a Rocinha, palco intermitente, há décadas, de batalhas entre grupos de traficantes e entre esses e policiais, quem o está assessorando sobre favelas e segurança pública? Sílvia Ramos, especialista fundamental na área, não sabe. O Instituto Igarapé, ator de peso em qualquer debate sobre o assunto, não está envolvido, de acordo com Rob Muggah, um dos fundadores. Ignacio Cano, estudioso que fez importantes consultorias para a Polícia Militar fluminense, tampouco: “Acho que [ele] tem ideias próprias e um grupo de oficiais de opinião semelhante às dele”, completa.

Um especialista em segurança no Rio, que preferiu não ser identificado, explica ser comum alguns juízes viverem cercado de oficiais de polícia. Policiais lotados no Poder Judiciário, acrescenta, por vezes constroem relações de familiaridade com os juízes que protegem. Resolvem problemas, trocam ideias, homenageiam com medalhas, estendem convites para visitar estande de dar tiro ou fazer cursos no BOPE ou na CORE. “É uma espécie de lobby, na melhor das hipóteses”, acrescenta.

O viés tecnológico das propostas de Witzel — franco atiradores e drones sobrevoando favelas, alvejando quem carrega fuzil — sugere uma assessoria de visão limitada. Como fizeram durante os anos de pacificação, traficantes não irão se adaptar à nova realidade de serem alvos ambulantes? Naquele tempo, continuaram com os negócios, de forma low-profile, ou fugiram para outras cidades do estado, espalhando violência para a Zona Oeste e a Costa Verde. Nem todos irão ser “abatidos” como Witzel gosta de dizer. O que acontecerá se traficantes usarem moradores comuns como escudos humanos, para se movimentar nos seus territórios?

A decisão de implementar as propostas high-tech, se tomada, responsabiliza o morador comum de favela pelos riscos que corre no seu dia a dia. Será como se o resto da sociedade brasileira nada tem a ver com a pobreza que levou esses dois milhões (no Rio) a morar fora do asfalto, suprindo, nas grandes cidades, mão de obra barata. Formaliza-se a condição de morador comum como civil numa guerra, dano colateral.

O autoritarismo limita — e bloqueia — relacionamentos entre as pessoas. Reforça bolhas. Minimiza a necessidade de gastar sola, de criar conexões com pessoas e lugares fora destas. O desconhecimento do território, Witzel se arrisca a descobrir, pode levar a mais um fracasso na segurança pública do Rio de Janeiro. Periga incentivar, como o mundo já viu em Los Angeles e nos subúrbios de Paris, mais violência, mais raiva, mais mortes.

E a repressão ao tráfico? O foco principal tem que ser na inteligência: as ilegalidades na aquisição e no transporte de armas e entorpecentes. Ou seja, na corrupção dentre as próprias instituições de estado. Aí, drones e franco-atiradores serão supérfluos.

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How to prepare, protect? Hard-line is here

A lawyer spoke about the young Morro dos Prazeres resident Willian Preciano, in prison for two months. Neighbors and family say police mistook his identity

If you live in a favela or have friends who do, you know about violence wreaked in them by drug traffickers, milicianos and police. Today, given an upcoming crackdown on crime by formal and informal security agents — though this position has significant support in many favelas — there is worry about the changing climate in Brazilian cities.

In a recent article, Americas Quarterly editor Brian Winter, who for some years has closely followed Jair Bolsonaro (including exclusive interviews)  predicts that “upcoming months will bring an onslaught of death.” He notes this is the PSL candidate’s top priority, i.e. “relaxing laws and rules for security forces, allowing them to shoot first and ask questions later (to an even greater extent than today, considering police already kill 5,000 people per year). The goal is to intimidate or kill drug dealers, thieves and other criminals – and thus reverse the inexorable rise in crime since democracy returned to Brazil in 1985.”

Brazilian society, says Winter, “is in the mood to pound some heads”, though most public safety specialists warn of failure since “Brazilian society has changed since the 1980s and … militarization of security has spectacularly failed in places like Mexico and Central America – and in Rio de Janeiro since February of this year.”

Instead of “pounding heads”, specialists say, crime reduction depends on sophisticated measures such as better training, equipping, paying, controlling and managing police forces; effectively using intelligence and information; integrating the judiciary and penitentiaries as actors in public safety policy and increasing the role of federal government in controlling and funding this key area of national life.

Just as Bolsonaro promises to do, a president leading such an approach would be meeting Brazilian society’s central demand to be able to peacefully live and move about the country.

Charles Siqueira, Morro dos Prazeres resident, also spoke last night

With a less sophisticated public safety policy, Winter claims, the human price will be high. Inocents will die and be tortured. Milicianos, he says, will take advantage of the situation to settle accounts and intimidate enemies. We’ll see more murder cases such as city councilwoman Marielle’s.

Português aqui 

Opponents of Jair Bolsonaro’s PSL, women, journalists, non-whites and non-heterosexuals, already report violent attacks over and above pre-first-round times. Jair Bolsonaro, himself a victim, says he cannot control his supporters. The Mapa da Violência site is receiving and publishing such reports.

Even before the Bolsonaro waveconstitutionally protected human rights were not a given in Rio de Janeiro. Last night, Morro dos Prazeres favela residents held a protest to defend the young William Preciliano, said to be wrongfully arrested two months ago. Such arrests in the favela have occurred twice before.

During the protest, this blogger asked human rights defenders present about strategies for what promises to be a new PSL era. Some, awaiting second-round results, doubt that Rio will actually come to be governed by the ideology of Bolsonaro’s party. Others trust the continued power of denouncing illegalities.

Of course government institutions and NGOs working in this area won’t give up on defending society’s weakest members. Even if the PSL dominates the state legislature as of 2019, we did see the election of five black women to it. Along with colleagues, they’re likely to defend the rights of those suffering the collateral damage of the expected hardline public safety policy. The press, which began covering informal urban territories in a more complete fashion starting in 2008, with pacification, will also play an important role in the clashes and teeth-gnashing that await us.

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Como se preparar, como se proteger? Linha-dura já chegando

Discursou um dos advogados do jovem morador do morro dos Prazeres, Willian Preciano, preso há dois meses. Vizinhos e familiares dizem policiais erraram na identificação

Quem mora ou tem amigos que moram em favelas do Rio de Janeiro sabe que esses sofrem violência cometida por traficantes de drogas, milicianos e policiais. Hoje, diante da perspectiva de comportamento linha-dura por parte de agentes formais e informais de segurança — mesmo que essa posição tenha apoio eleitoral expressiva em muitas favelas — já surgem preocupações sobre a mudança de ambiente nas cidades brasileiras.

Brian Winter, editor da revista norte americana Americas Quarterly, que acompanha as ideias e declarações de Jair Bolsonaro (inclusive em entrevistas exclusivas) há alguns anos, prevê num artigo recente “uma ofensiva mortífera nos próximos meses”. É essa a prioridade máxima do candidato do PSL, aponta, ou seja, “relaxar leis e normas para as forças de segurança, permitindo que atirem primeiro e façam perguntas depois (em níveis mais altos do que hoje, considerando que policiais já matam cinco mil pessoas por ano). O objetivo é intimidar ou matar traficantes de drogas, ladrões e outros criminosos – e assim reverter o crescimento inexorável do crime desde a volta da democracia ao Brasil, em 1985”.

A sociedade brasileira, diz Winter, está afim de pound some heads, ou bater em algumas cabeças, apesar de a maioria de especialistas em segurança pública advertir que tal abordagem é fadada ao fracasso, pois “a sociedade brasileira mudou desde os anos 1980 e já fracassou a militarização da segurança em lugares como o México e a América Central, além do próprio Rio de Janeiro, desde fevereiro deste ano”.

Em vez de “bater cabeças”, dizem especialistas, diminuir a criminalidade depende de medidas sofisticadas, como capacitar, equipar, remunerar, controlar e administrar melhor as polícias; utilizar inteligência e informação de forma efetiva; integrar o judiciário e as penitenciárias como atores em políticas de segurança pública e aumentar o papel federal no controle e sustento desta questão chave da vida nacional.

Um presidente que liderasse tal abordagem estaria, como pretende o Bolsonaro, atendendo ao anseio forte da sociedade brasileira de poder viver e transitar em paz no país.

Discursou ontem Charles Siqueira, morador do morro dos Prazeres

Com uma política de segurança pública menos sofisticada, afirma Winter, será alto o preço humano. Inocentes irão morrer e serão sujeitos à tortura. Milicianos, diz, irão se aproveitar do ambiente para ajustar contas e intimidar inimigos. Teremos mais casos como o assassinato da Marielle.

Não-eleitores do PSL de Jair Bolsonaro, mulheres, jornalistas, não-brancos e não-heterossexuais já relatam ataques violentos em escala maior do que antes do primeiro turno. Jair Bolsonaro, ele mesmo vítima, diz não poder controlar seus seguidores. O site Mapa da Violência está recebendo e publicando os relatos.

Mesmo antes do surgimento da onda Bolsonaro, os direitos humanos, protegidos pela Constituição, sofriam investidas no Rio de Janeiro. Ontem à noite, moradores da favela do morro dos Prazeres fizeram um protesto para defender o jovem William Preciliano, que dizem ter sido preso indevidamente, há dois meses. Prisões errôneas já aconteceram duas vezes antes no morro.

Durante o protesto, sua blogueira perguntou a defensores de direitos humanos presentes sobre estratégias para o que promete ser uma nova era PSL. Alguns, no aguardo do resultado do segundo turno das eleições, duvidam que o Rio de fato seja governado a base da ideologia do partido do Bolsonaro. Outros confiam no poder continuado da denúncia.

Claro que as instituições governamentais e as organizações de terceiro setor que trabalham nessa área não irão desistir de defender os membros mais fracos da sociedade. Mesmo que o PSL domine, a partir de 2019, a assembleia legislativa estadual, tivemos a eleição de cinco mulheres negras ao parlamento, que devem lutar, junto com alguns colegas, pelos direitos daqueles que podem sofrer os efeitos colaterais da esperada política de segurança pública linha-dura. A imprensa, que começou a cobrir de maneira mais completa os territórios urbanos informais a partir de 2008, com a pacificação, também terá um papel importante nos embates e debates que nos aguardam.

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First round election 2018: Rio de Janeiro

Near Praça Mauá, September 2018: crossed wires, blocked pipes

Many cariocas would love to have seen former mayor Eduardo Paes’ face yesterday, when the first numbers came in on the Rio de Janeiro gubernatorial race.

It was just past six PM when partial results flashed on the GloboNews screen: Paes, at the 20 or so percentage points he’d been leading with in the last several weeks; and some guy named Wilson Witzel, with over 40%. Witzel had only 10% in the last Ibope poll!

Clique aqui para português

The two go into the second round Oct. 28, Witzel having earned 42.28% and Paes with 19.56%, all first-round votes counted. Paes — considered presidential material in Rio’s boom years — must be thinking of going back to working with Chinese electric cars, a job he held during his self-imposed exile once he left office at the end of 2016. If he loses the second round Paes would also lose the chance to renew his Supreme Court jurisdiction privileges; he’s just been accused of receiving bribes as illegal campaign contributions, no proof given.

On the one hand, the bitter taste of the 2016 Olympic Games brought to Rio by Paes and the now-incarcerated former governor Sérgio Cabral and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, seems to linger with state voters. On the other, they are enjoying the novel power of shaking up traditional politicians. Less than a week of Whatsapp messages was apparently key to Witzel’s rocketing.

Logically, both factors should continue in play for the second round.

During the first-round campaign, Paes focused on the competition from the former soccer star Romário, who was running second and came up with only 8.7% of the vote. Tarcísio Motta, opposition PSOL party candidate, also saw last-minute growth, to third place, with 10.72%.

Little is known about Witzel, from the tiny Partido Social Cristão. A criminal court judge until he decided to run, he’s a friend of judge Marcelo Bretas, responsible for the Rio de Janeiro cases in the Lava Jato investigation. According to press reports, Witzel played a role in the removal of a group of indigenous people from the Museu do Índio in 2013; today he says police should shoot any would-be criminal armed with a rifle.

This may be the first time Rio has a former judge as governor, coming from the only state government branch as yet untouched by Lava Jato.

An enormous political change took place yesterday. Earlier, pundits said either Bolsonaro or Haddad would meet with congressional barriers to economic policy. But Bolsonaro’s party, the PSL, won so many seats in congress that this may not hold.

The PSL also dominates Rio’s state legislature, theoretically favoring parliamentary relations with the future governor, if Witzel wins in the second round.

It’s also now possible to imagine an alliance between Witzel with a future President Bolsonaro, who’s from Rio. Both scenarios, however, depend on totally unknown future political behavior. Will Rio’s troubles take federal priority? Will negotiations and relationships involve ideology, interests, government posts, money?

Will Bolsonaro act like any politician? Or will he pull a Trump? We are, after all, in the era do imprevisto (the age of the unforeseen, as described in a recent book by Sérgio Abranches).

This also threatens to be the age of beginners. The learning curve has its costs, suffered by Rio’s citizens in the Marcelo Crivella administration, which took office in 2017.

With Crivella as mayor, Witzel as governor and Bolsonaro in Brasília, Rio will certainly undergo a transformation, with possible emphasis on police forces, paramilitary gangs and evangelical churches. We have yet to see, in this scenario, the workings of institutions responsible for making sure laws (such as those protecting human rights) are fulfilled and concessions and government officials are duly checked up on.

Given politicians’ conflicting and changing positions, also unknown is the emphasis that Rio’s pillars of culture and petroleum will have. What will become of our Bohemian and rebellious nature?

Perhaps most important, Brazil’s armed forces are set to depart Rio at yearend, having contributed to an increase in violence between security personnel and civilians that is likely to worsen in a more permissive scenario.

More than anything, we’ll depend on the press, both mainstream and independent. We’ll need constant journalistic coverage of new officials, both day-to-day and investigative reporting. As seen in Trump’s USA, journalists become easy targets and their work brings few immediate results. Yet information in this new political moment will be more crucial than ever.

At all levels of government, ballot boxes showed voters’ desire — and capacity — to change up everything. The goal is to end corruption, return to honesty. Few may have considered that honesty is just part of an effective politician’s makeup. It’ll be a long road as we pick out other desirable attributes of those who govern and represent us.

Rouba mas faz” (He steals but he gets things done), the hallowed motto of Brazilian politics, may enjoy a certain nostalgia in the not-too-distant future.

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Eleição primeiro turno 2018: como fica o Rio de Janeiro?

Cena perto da praça Mauá, setembro de 2018: fios cruzados, canos entupidos

Há muitos cariocas que pagariam para ver a cara do ex prefeito Eduardo Paes ontem, hora que pintaram os primeiros números da corrida para governador do estado do Rio de Janeiro.

Eram pouco mais das 18 horas quando apareceram na tela da GloboNews os parciais: o Paes, com os vinte e tantos pontos percentuais com os quais liderara, nas últimas semanas; e um tal de Wilson Witzel, com mais de 40%. Witzel contava com apenas 10% na última pesquisa Ibope!

Os dois vão para o segundo turno, Witzel com 42,28% dos votos e Paes com 19,56%, terminada a apuração. Paes —  nos anos de bonança carioca citado como presidenciável — já deve estar pensando em voltar a vender carros elétricos chineses, trabalho que exerceu durante o auto-exílio nos EUA, depois de sair da prefeitura no fim de 2016. Ao perder no segundo turno, Paes perderia também a chance de renovar o foro privilegiado; acabou de ser objeto de uma acusação de recebimento de propina, para caixa dois de campanha, sem provas.

Por um lado, os eleitores fluminenses parecem ainda sentir o gosto amargo do fim dos Jogos Olímpicos, trazidos pelo Paes e os hoje encarcerados ex governador Sérgio Cabral e ex presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Por outro, estão curtindo um poderio novo — o de chacoalhar políticos tradicionais. Menos de uma semana de mensagens Whatsapp foi fundamental, aparentemente, na subida do Witzel.

Ambos fatores, pela lógica, devem continuar em jogo no segundo turno, dia 28.

Durante a campanha do primeiro turno, Paes focava na concorrência do ex jogador de futebol, Romário, que era o segundo na corrida e ficou com apenas 8,7% dos votos tabulados. Tarcísio Motta, candidato do partido oposicionista PSOL, também cresceu na última hora, para terceiro lugar, com 10,72%.

Pouco se sabe de Witzel, do nanico Partido Social Cristão. Juiz de vara criminal até se candidatar, é amigo do juiz Marcelo Bretas, que cuida dos casos das investigações Lava Jato no Rio de Janeiro. De acordo com a imprensa, Witzel teve um papel na retirada de um grupo de indígenas do Museu do Índio, em 2013; hoje prega o abatimento policial de qualquer bandido armado de fuzil.

Talvez seja a primeira vez que o Rio tenha como governador um ex juiz, vindo do único braço de governo estadual ainda intocado pela Lava Jato.

Ontem houve, em geral, uma grande troca política. Antes, especulava-se, tanto no caso da eleição de Bolsonaro como a de Haddad, dificuldade nas negociações com o Congresso para, sobretudo a promulgação de políticas econômicas. Mas o partido de Bolsonaro, PSL, obteve tantos lugares no Congresso que talvez não enfrente tantos obstáculos assim.

O PSL também domina a assembleia legislativa do Rio de Janeiro, o que facilitaria, em tese, as relações parlamentares com o futuro governador, se Witzel vencer no segundo turno.

Também torna-se possível, agora, imaginar uma aliança entre Witzel, a nível estadual, com um futuro presidente Bolsonaro, que é do Rio. Ambos cenários, porém, dependem de futuros comportamentos políticos completamente desconhecidos. As dificuldades do Rio terão prioridade federal? As relações e negociações envolverão ideologia, interesses, cargos, dinheiro?

Bolsonaro irá se comportar como qualquer político? Ou dará uma de Trump? Estamos, enfim, na era do imprevisto.

Também ameaça ser a era dos principiantes. A curva de aprendizagem tem seus custos, com os quais os cidadãos da capital têm sofrido, na administração de Marcelo Crivella, eleito em 2016.

Com Crivella na prefeitura, Witzel como governador e Bolsonaro no Planalto, o Rio certamente viverá uma transformação, com possível ênfase em policiais, milicianos e igrejas evangélicas. Resta saber quais serão os papéis das instituições responsáveis pelo cumprimento das leis e a fiscalização de concessões e autoridades.

Diante de posições conflitantes e mutáveis dos políticos, qual ênfase terão a cultura e o setor de petróleo, pilares do Rio?

Como ficará o espírito boêmio e transgressor?

Talvez de maior importância, as forças armadas devem sair do Rio de Janeiro no fim do ano, tendo contribuído para um aumento de violência entre agentes de segurança e civis que, num cenário mais permissivo, tende a se exacerbar.

Acima de tudo, iremos depender da imprensa, tanto a tradicional como a independente. Precisaremos a constante cobertura jornalística dos novos governantes, no dia a dia e de forma investigativa. Como se vê hoje nos Estados Unidos, tal trabalho vira alvo fácil dos governantes e não traz resultados imediatos. Mas a informação, nesse novo momento político, será mais crucial do que nunca.

Em todos os níveis, as urnas demonstram o desejo — e a capacidade– de mudar “tudo que está aí”. O eleitor quer o fim da corrupção, a volta da honestidade. Pouco lhe importa que a honestidade não seja atributo suficiente para constituir um político. O caminho será longo para que identifiquemos outros atributos desejáveis para quem nos governa e representa.

“Rouba mas faz”, lema secular da política brasileira, talvez dê saudades, daqui a algum tempo.

Posted in Brasil, Transformation of Rio de Janeiro / Transformação do Rio de Janeiro | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rio de Janeiro mysteries: incompetence at root?

Are the Civil Police capable of solving the murder of city councilwoman Marielle Franco? Can Mayor Marcelo Crivella actually run Rio? Does Governor “Pezão” manage to manage the state? And those below them? Who’s truly equipped to lead a revolution of results, just and accountable?

“I don’t want to die, I want to go to school”: incompetence kills

We hear a lot about corruption nowadays. Lately, however, as this blogger moves around the metropolis she’s gotten wind of another word: incompetence.

Clique aqui para português

Are the Civil Police protecting the killers of city council woman Marielle and her driver, Anderson, this blogger asked a public safety specialist. The answer was that the Civil Police are simply incompetent.

What happened to the Santa Teresa tram upgrade, the blog last week asked current state representative Carlos Roberto Osório, state transportation secretary during the first Pezão administration. “You had work half done, poorly contracted, with no basic study, a very generic bidding process, quite fragile,” he said, adding that the contractor, a foreign firm, lacked “financial capacity” and local experience. To top this off, no one in the state government gave thought to the water and sewerage company’s pipes running under the tracks up for renewal. Work came to a standstill so the pipes could be replaced.

Then the money ran out. Today’s short stretch of serviceable tram tracks owes its existence, says Osório, to revenue in the form of fines paid to the state by intermunicipal bus companies.

Good thing they paid the fines! And city buses? What’s going on with bus company bankruptcies, disappearing service on some lines, the long waits? According to Osório (who was also municipal transportation secretary, under mayor Eduardo Paes), the concession model, set up by Paes in 2010, is more practical than the previous permissions model, or public sector ownership — already attempted in Rio.

The basic problem is lack of information and technical capability. According to Osório, the city lacked (and still lacks) the personnel to track the degree to which concessionaires are fulfilling their end of the contract. So officials blindly accept bus companies’ information regarding costs, rubber-stamping fare increases.

Current mayor Marcelo Crivella broke with this behavior; he denied fare increases. Companies went broke.

There’s so much to shock anyone who takes a peek beyond appearances. Researching transportation for a book (really truly almost done), this blogger was surprised to discover that not an official soul in Rio thinks about, much less manages, transportation at the metropolitan level*. And few even have an overall grasp of the patchwork that it is — though approximately two million people commute daily to and from the capital.

The surprise is shared. “The municipalities each do their own planning with no coordination with the others, nor with the state government, it’s been this way for years,” Osório said. “This surprised me a great deal, when I was secretary here in the city of Rio de Janeiro, really, that there was no dialogue, no exchange.” He told the story of the 2013 collapse of a section of the Linha Vermelha (Red Line) highway. A Rio traffic planner proposed they “protect [the international airport] and Ilha do Governador, and leave [the bedroom communities of the] Baixada to their own devices.” The city of Rio runs the Linha Vermelha highway, though it cuts through the cities of Duque de Caxias and São João de Meriti.

Because it’s a particularly opaque institution, the Civil Police’s would-be incompetence gets lost in mystery, adding to general perplexity and conspiracy theories. “There’s a cloak of invisibility over the Civil Police,” says the previously cited specialist. “It doesn’t function and is controlled by no one.”

In recent years media and public safety specialists have focused on Rio’s Military Police. Perhaps the time has come to swivel the spotlight. “The big problem in public safety,” says the specialist, “is the Civil Police** […] In addition to the almost total opacity of the PCERJ, in the media as well, there’s the difficulty of combatting organized crime without any investigation. If you have a police force without due external control, enduring profound privation in a crime-ridden environment, the most you’ll get is what we have today: islands of excellence that investigate high-profile cases. The rest is the bureaucracy of crime. In other words, the movement of paper, reporting crimes. If that.”

If there’s a high-profile crime at the moment it’s the Marielle and Anderson case, the blog reminded the specialist. “Well then we have to wonder just how ‘excellent’ those ‘islands of excellence’ are,” he responded.

The state-run Instituto de Segurança Pública (Public Safety Institute) publishes data on Civil Police murder clearance rates, for homicides and violence-induced lethality. The ISP checks up on cases from 18 to 24  months after a crime is reported. So the most recent data is on homicides committed in the second half of 2016: 83.8% of the investigations are still under way. Cases of violence-induced lethality during the same period are 80.2% still open. A request to the Civil Police press department for an answer to the accusation of incompetence in the Marielle/Anderson murders produced this affirmation: “the investigations continue under strict secrecy.”

The crime took place four months ago.

The U.S. murder clearance rate in 2016 was 59.4% (the Rio rate is under 20%, as seen above).

It’s the Rio State Public Prosecutor’s office’s job to keep tabs on Rio police behavior and work conditions. GAESP, the Public Safety Special Group, is working to improve what it calls the sucateamento (literally the scrapheaping) of the PCERJ, in its “Concise report of GAESP activity in relation to the PCERJ containing a diagnostic of the current problems of the Rio de Janeiro state Civil Police.” The report, to which RioRealblog acquired access, is part of an ongoing investigation.

Missing are a sufficient number of employees, correctly functioning weapons, suitable offices, overtime payment, training and perhaps most important, a working computer system and data bank capability. In order to finish up the prosecutors’ PCERJ investigation phase and then come up with a Conduct Adjustment Commitment, one of which already exists for the Military Police, GAESP awaits answers from the state Public Safety secretariat, the state’s chief Public Prosecutor and the Federal Interventor in Rio’s state public safety apparatus.

Given its financial hardships, the specialist says, Rio’s Civil Police could be more practical. In other states, they pass simple paperwork on to the Military Police, and concentrate resources on more complex investigative tasks. No such luck, here.

There are also signs of incompetence in the military. During an incursion last year in the Salgueiro favela (before the federal intervention), military and civil police seem  — given sparse information — to have committed a serious strategic error, wounding and killing civilians at night on a little-used road. Even if you consider civilian deaths “collateral damage”, in these operations, you must agree that whoever planned this one was wrong to suppose that only fleeing drug traffickers would be on that road.

Maybe the military participants counted on the protection of the new Law # 13491, which last year transferred to the Federal Military Court crimes allegedly committed by members of the military on “missions to guarantee law and order.”

The assumption might be a good one — for now. In April, the state Public Defender’s office denounced the so-called “Chacina do Salgueiro” (Salgueiro slaughter) to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission , claiming that Law # 13491 is itself a violation of the American Human Rights Convention. We’ll see what the Commission’s response is; the Inter-American Court has already found Brazil guilty in two massacres in the Complexo do Alemão favelas and its more than tardy decision found the country’s investigation of journalist Vladimir Herzog’s 1975 death (duing the military dictatorship) to be incomplete.

July 2018 report on the Federal Intervention

The federal intervention itself may suffer from incompetence (and also from a cloak of invisibility, some complain). According to the Observatório da Intervenção (Intervention Observatory) after five months “[…] the intervention command invests a great deal in military operations and little in intelligence. The result is an increase in what people fear the most: stray bullets, crossfire and shooting. Up to now, the Armed Forces’ presence has not resulted in a perceived increase in public safety in Rio, since the intervention.”

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that most of the cases of would-be incompetence described here are connected to the “scrapheaping” (as Brazilians say) of institutions and public services: the tram, Cedae pipes, the bus system, metropolitan transportation, the Civil Police, public safety in general. Could it be that this weakening will lead us, some day, to reforms that have so far been resisted by those who hang onto the withering status quo?

At any rate it’s healthy for us all to think about public management competence. The terrible education system is certainly at the heart of the problem. More official accountability — more eyes — would also be useful, both to check up on service quality and to ensure the prioritization of the greater good, the client or public service beneficiary. What we need is a results revolution.

*This will change, once the state assembly votes on the bill creating and funding the Câmara de Integração Metropolitana (Metropolitan Integration Chamber), whose creation was required by a 2014 Supreme Court decision.

**Broadly speaking, Brazil’s state Military Police do street work and Civil Police do investigative work. Oddly, in Rio each force has its own elite squad.

Posted in Brazil, Transformation of Rio de Janeiro / Transformação do Rio de Janeiro | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments