2016 Elections: looking for what we’ve already found


Jean Lima, Nova Iguaçu graffiti artist, thinking ahead to 2017

Of all the political moments anyone can recall, this is the most complicated, the most unprecedented.

We want no more of the same, no more corruption, no muddy alliances, none of those hollow promises.

Who’s good enough to vote for?

Two days before the first round of municipal elections, this is a commonly asked question.

Clique aqui para português

This blogger had been busy with the ongoing book about how Rio really works. Finding out isn’t easy — so much more to discover.

At very least one can say, without a doubt, that we live in a time of leaps and lags, with behaviors both modern and obsolete.

Some still invest in violent battles for territory.

Some still propose a business idea to government, thinking that a solution is a matter of a well-protected tourism area.

Then there are those who leap. They’re using one of the most powerful tools for urban transformation: information.

Data Labe, an initiative of young people from peripheral areas in the Complexo da Maré favelas, is mapping communication work in Rio’s favelas. Soon, we’ll know a great deal about reporting and publication in informal parts of the city.

The Data Labe team, supported by the Observatório de Favelas, the Brazil School of Data and Coding Rights, has a channel on the Medium writing platform  and has already studied the data that bus companies gather on passengers. In addition to serving as a warning on privacy, the bus data analysis is heartening for those seek information on companies’ costs and income. This is the only way to evaluate controversial fare increases.

In the Complexo do Alemão favelas, which also suffer constant shooting between traffickers and police, another group of young people are spreading what they learned in the last few years about human rights, video proof, digital security and photography. With the support of the Brazil Foundation, the Papo Reto collective has just launched its pioneering Oficina de Beco (Alleyway Workshop).

As residents learn to document local violence, we have a new source of information about shooting in general in Rio.

Launched in  June, the Fogo Cruzado app registers and maps shooting, publishing weekly and monthly data. It’s an Amnesty International initiative.

Such news is of some consolation, given the current electoral mood. One hears people speak of “the return of Garotinho”, with whom leading mayoral candidate  Marcelo Crivella has made an alliance.

Anthony Garotinho and his wife, Rosinha, occupied the post of governor in the years preceding Sérgio Cabral, and left office in 2007 under a cloud of convictions, investigations and accusations of electoral crimes. One of Garotinho’s Civil Police chiefs, Álvaro Lins, was sentenced to 28 years in prison (which he has yet to serve). Rio saw great violence during the Garotinho administrations, both in favelas and in the formal city. The fatal 174 bus  incident took place in the Jardim Botânico neighborhood, in 2000.

In 2002, after the torture and death of TV Globo journalist Tim Lopes, at the hands of Complexo do Alemão traffickers, mainstream journalism stopped covering favelas, aside from combat news.

Times have definitely changed. Today we have more and faster information, more community organization, studies based on better data and more connections throughout the city.

Yesterday, Globo newspaper published a story on a new Fundação Getúlio Vargas study that points to new public policies to reduce violence. This is the first time that anyone has combined data from the Disque Denúncia crime hotline, the state crime statistics agency, Instituto de Segurança Pública (ISP) and the State Penitentiary Administration. It will be possible to develop some very interesting territorial city crime reduction strategies.

The Globo piece also describes the new Municipal Citizen Security Agenda, created by the Instituto Igarapé. Its recommendations center on, again, the intelligent use of data, as well as the integration of institutions and their work, and conflict mediation.

In this metropolis of worrisome leaps and lags, we can be sure that human rights, new media and community participation activity that came into existence in the last decade will not vanish in 2017, even if a candidate of more traditional beliefs and behaviors wins the election. They’re actually part, as seen in a previous post, of a long-term trend.

There is also more information available about the Rio police force. A study just published by Ignacio Cano’s Laboratório de Análise da Violência, da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Uerj), together with Beatriz Magaloni, of Stanford University, describes how deep the culture of violence goes, among cops — and to what extent (62% of more than 5,000 interviewed) they still support the failed War on Drugs.

We even have a new watchdog initiative for the City Council, one of the most problematic institutions when it comes to public policies for the city’s greater good. In this election, there’s a range of new alternative candidates. Will you remember for whom you voted? 

In the end, we must know the city in order to improve it.  How much do we know? Take a surprising test, here.

Ah, and for those who still don’t know about the sad shape our city finances are in, here’s our post about them, in Portuguese.

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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