FIFA World Cup 2014 security strengthened by Brazilian police
By Dialogo April 15, 2014
Brazilian police and military officials are working hard to make sure all security measures are in place before the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 12, 2014.
On April 5, 2014, about 2,000 soldiers raided the Rio de Janeiro shantytown of Mare using helicopters and armored personnel carriers. The favela, located near Galeão International Airport, is one of Rio’s most dangerous regions. It contains 15 separate slums and is home to about 130,000 people.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff authorized the security inititiave. Under the command of Army Gen. Ronaldo Lundgren, the troops will remain in Mare until the end of July 2014, the Globo TV network reported. A Police Pacification Unit (UPP) will move in when the troops leave.
As of early April 2014, authorities have established UPPs in 37 favelas. The program was launched in 2008.
Eduarda La Rocque has headed the Instituto Pereira Passos — Rio’s municipal planning agency — since August 2012. The UPPs will improve security for residents and the tens of thousands of tourists who will stream into Brazil for the World Cup, La Rocque said.
Guaranteeing security during the games
Brazilian authorities are working hard to ensure public safety is maintained during the World Cup competition, which will last one month, La Rocque said.
“In order to ensure security during the World Cup, we have entered into many alliances,” she said. “Since 2009, we have been concentrating extensively on planning. Every week, the mayor receives a briefing on each of the projects. We’ve also implemented a system of meritocracy, where special bonuses are given to public servants that achieve their goals on time. We’ve also been working hard to reduce bureaucracy.”
Municipal officials have invested $7.8 billion in transportation projects and enhancement of existing infrastructure with an eye towards not only the upcoming World Cup but also the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, to be hosted by Rio de Janeiro. La Rocque said.
“The World Cup is right around the corner, but our focus is sustaining a permanent legacy for the citizens — more even than organizing the event itself,” she said.
Rio de Janeiro has 6.32 million inhabitants, of whom nearly 1.39 million — or 22 percent of the population — live in favelas. Authorities are working with the private sector to provide employment opportunities in favelas, which will reduce crime and improve social conditions, La Rocque explained.
“From 1991 to 2010, the city’s population grew 0.4 percent a year, but the favelas grew by 2.4 percent. We need social policies that are specifically geared to favelas that will reduce crime and promote social development,” La Rocque said. “Our ultimate plan is to map out every alley and every little street. We think everybody has the right to have a specific address.”
Authorities are confident the security and employment initiatives will improve conditions in favelas not just in the short term, but in the long run, La Rocque said.
“We don’t just want to inaugurate things. I’m certain that by 2020, when we look back at the data, we’ll find that living conditions are substantially better,” La Rocque said. “We must continue to attack inequality and stimulate investment. We already have the information. We know what needs to be done.”
Improvements in safety
Many favela residents and people who live in surrounding neighborhoods believe safety has improved since the installation of the UPPs, according to a recent survey.
Nearly 50 percent of favela residents said life was better since the UPPs were installed. In neighborhoods surrounding favelas, 61 percent of the people said life had improved after the UPPs were sent to the favelas.
The survey was led by Mauricio Moura, a Brazilian economist and social scientist. A team led by Moura 3,816 interviews of residents of Rio’s favelas and surrounding communities in September 2011 and 5,200 interviews in January 2013.
“Rio is the home of three very dangerous, well-known criminal and drug organizations. However, the UPPs have been improving the situation significantly,” Moura said. “There’s been a clear reduction in homicide rates among pacified communities.”
“There’s still a certain degree of uncertainty and doubt, but I can state that UPPs are the best thing that’s happened in public security and the response is overwhelming,” Mauro continued. “More than 80 percent of respondents think the presence of UPPs has been a positive development. Having visited over 30 areas where UPPs are in place, I can say that everyone agrees UPPs are the first step.”
While security officials must remain vigilant in the long run, the improvements in public safety in favelas is apparent, Moura said.
“For the first time, we’re openly discussing something that’s been done, and not something that should be done,” he said. “This is ultimately the greatest legacy of the project. If you walk through a community that’s been pacified, you clearly feel more secure. But we need to see if this is a lasting benefit.”
Police connect with the communit
The UPPs are succeeding because police officers are connecting with the favela residents, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding, said Col. Robson Rodrigues, a former commander of the Police Shock Battalion of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro (PMERJ), where he helped to structure and deploy UPPs throughout the state. He is also a senior consultant at Rio de Janeiro’s Igarapé Institute and a professor at Candido Mendes University.
“We have made considerable strides. All the stakeholders in the community — not only police officers but also community leaders — have learned a great deal,” Rodrigues said. “We see peace and tranquility, but we still have to work hard to elicit the participation of the citizens. It is up to law-enforcement agencies to show that they understand the needs of society, and this has to be reflected in their behavior.”
This will especially be true during the World Cup, according to Rodrigues.
“We are going to see a large number of boots on the ground. As a result, we will be able to avert most kinds of insecurity and criminal action,” Rodrigues said. “It’s possible we will see some turbulence. However, it is essential that we continue with this pacification process.”