Governor Cabral anew

Rocinha could be “pacified” in a matter of days or weeks

Sworn in yesterday to a second term as governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral announced his top three priorities: public safety, public health, and education. Last year, Rio came in second to last in the IDEB education ranking, among Brazil’s 26 states and the federal district, Brasília. According to Cabral, 40 consultants are working on a model to improve education at the state level.

Rio’s municipal education system embarked on a significant upgrade with the election of Eduardo Paes in 2008, under the able hand of secretary Claudia Costin.

O Globo reports that the governor has a schedule for ridding Rocinha and (Vidigal) of their drug-trafficking ruler, Nem— developed with his public safety secretary, José Mariano Beltrame. From the interview, the goal sounds short-term: “In January we’ll have wonderful news,” Cabral told O Globo.

Cabral reiterated his intention to install 40 police pacification units covering 140 favelas by the end of his term; Rio already has 13, created in the past two years. The model is currently being adapted to different locations, with increased manpower as needed. The  Complexo do Alemão and the Complexo da Penha favelas, occupied at the end of November in response to a wave of car- and bus-burnings, will have five police pacification units with 2,200 men, once the occupation phase is completed by the Brazilian army and special operations police, the BOPE.

Just before Christmas, Cabral announced the replacement of Ricardo Henriques, his secretary who since last April headed up the social programs component of Rio’s public safety pacification policy– with a state legislator who has much less experience and vision. Several commentators, including this blog, read the move as a political appointment that failed to recognize the importance of Henriques’ post to the sucess of that policy. Henriques has since accepted a position at the municipal level where it is hoped he’ll be able to accomplish much of what he’d set out to do as state Secretary for Social Assistance and Human Rights; whether or not his team (including the impressively capable Silvia Ramos) will accompany him is unknown.

Although Cabral comes across in his interview in Globo as focused on management, not politics, he’ll be a man to scrutinize over the next four years, as Rio’s pre-Olympic upgrade comes up against the deep cultural attitudes and prejudices that underlie the city’s socio-economic apartheid. Making good on the promise to integrate the city involves the hard work of undoing centuries of neglect of Rio’s poor, uneducated and unhealthy populace.  An estimated million people live in its favelas, roughly a fifth of the population overall of Rio proper.

The governor said he’ll also be working to make improvements in the areas of transportation, agriculture, the environment, sewage treatment and infrastructure. Management, he added, was the challenge of his first term; and one of his management-oriented team’s top accomplishments during his first term was an investment-grade ranking from Standard & Poor last March. “We have the same investment grade as Petrobras, Vale and the federal government,” Cabral rejoiced. “We were the first state government in Latin America.” Cabral led the way for pay raises for police officers and teachers, thousands of new hires, and a cleanup of the state’s finances. “We came out of the stone age,” he noted, in reference to the state’s school system. “Teachers hadn’t had a raise in 12 years.”

Cabral repeated that he won’t be running for public office in 2014, but supports his vice-governor, Luiz Fernando Pezão, as his successor; and that he’ll work to re-elect Dilma Rousseff, also sworn  in yesterday, to the presidency. Cabral’s success is largely owed to his ability to partner with both the federal and city governments– as well as the private sector.

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About Rio real

American journalist, writer, editor who's lived in Rio de Janeiro for 20 years.
This entry was posted in Brazil, Transformation of Rio de Janeiro / Transformação do Rio de Janeiro and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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