World Cup: Brazil’s Military Police improves security
By Dialogo October 03, 2013
The Brazilian Military Police (PM) is working aggressively to improve security in and near Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
In poor urban neighborhoods known as “favelas,” Police Pacifying Units (UPPs) are confronting and capturing members of the two largest organized crime groups in Brazil the Red Command and the First Capital Command (FCC).The two gangs engage in drug trafficking, extortion, illegal gambling, and kidnapping.
The PM launched the security operation in August 2013. More than 1,000 police officers are helping improve security in the favelas.
The effort is different from previous police operations. In previous operations, PM agents would sweep through neighborhoods and make large numbers of arrests, then leave.
The UPPs are not merely conducting brief raids. They are staying in the favelas to provide stability and continuing security.
“Currently, there are 30 UPPs that cover 50 to 60 Brazilian communities. Their mission is to control their territory and bring peace to the people,” said security analyst Ignacio Cano, who is also a professor in the social sciences department at the University of Rio de Janeiro.
Major sporting events
The goal of the UPPs is to not only improve security for Brazilians, but to also help ensure that the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics unfold peacefully. Millions of visitors from around the world are expected to come to Rio de Janeiro for the two sporting events.
Brazil has spent nearly $33 billion to build and improve infrastructure, such as public roads, in preparation for the two sports events. “Public security is of special interest to us,” Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said during the 2013 Confederation Cup competition, which was held in Brazil from June 15 to June 30.
The Brazilian government will provide sufficient security to protect local residents, as well as the many people who come to the country for the sports events, he said.
Brazilian security forces closely followed the investigation into the April 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon.
Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota told reporters that “all necessary measures” will be taken to ensure the World Cup and the Olympics are safe.
“We are confident there will be measures which will guarantee the security of the events,” Patriota said.
Though Brazil has never been the target of a terrorist attack, security officials were preparing for the possibility of a terrorist attack even before the Boston Marathon bombing, authorities said.
In the favelas, the UPPs are concentrating on confronting the Red Command, which is the oldest and largest gang in Brazil, and the FCC.
Prison inmates formed the Red Command in the 1960s. The late 1970s, the gang was operating criminal enterprises outside of prison. The Red Command formed alliances with Colombian cartels in the 1980s to sell large quantities of cocaine in Brazil.
A younger generation of prison inmates formed the FCC in the 1990s. The gang stole $16 million from a bank in Sao Paulo in 1999.