Brazil strengthens security for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Armed forces members and elite agents from the National Security Force of Brazil will work together to provide security for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Julieta Pelcastre | 29 January 2014

Armed forces members and elite agents from the National Security Force of Brazil will work together to provide security for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“Security cannot have any flaws because various heads of state will be attending the mega sporting event,” President Dilma Rousseff said during an early January meeting, Clarín reported.

Minister of Defense Celso Amorim and eight other ministers involved in the World Cup’s security also attended the meeting.

The Armed Forces, state police, and the National Public Security Force (FNSP) will closely monitor incidents in stadiums that could lead to outbreaks of violence.

Brazil expects to receive 32 sports teams, around 600,000 foreign tourists, and 3.5 million local visitors.

According to Nuevo Diario, Rousseff decided to strengthen the comprehensive security plan for the World Cup due to security problems in prisons in the state of Maranhão, especially in the Pedrinhas prison in the capital Sao Luis.

Inmates there beheaded three prisoners in a video they allegedly filmed themselves. The newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo released that video January 7.

60 military police officers have been deployed to several prisons in the state to reinforce security. In retaliation, jailed leaders and members of the criminal organization First Capital Command (PCC) allegedly ordered attacks on four city buses in Sao Luis.

The PCC planned to attack elected officials and security forces during the World Cup, according to the Special Action Group against Organized Crime (GAECO) of the Regional Public Prosecutor.

"The leaders of criminal gangs see the advance of security forces as a risk. Therefore, they are on the defensive, and in many cases, on the offensive, as is the case for the main organized crime group, the PCC,” said Carlos Mendoza Mora, Director of Proyectos Estratégicos Consultoría, a private security company in Mexico City.

Authorities will be watching the actions of the PCC and other groups that try to boycott the international event, Mendoza Mora said.

The World Cup’s security plan is led by the Special Secretariat for Security at Major Events (SESGE), which is connected to the Ministry of Justice. The strategy aims to avoid three threats: violent fans, organized crime, and terrorist attacks.

Security for the World Cup is one of the greatest concerns for the Brazilian Government. Around 18,000 military personnel will reinforce security for the World Cup, which will take place from June 12 to July 13.

Authorities have set up a special anti-riot police force to support security forces in controlling possible protests against the World Cup.

A total of 10,000 agents selected from state police forces throughout Brazil will receive crowd control training from the FNSP, an elite battalion linked to the Ministry of Justice.

The FNSP specializes in preventing urban violence.

Security agents will be located in 12 cities across the country that will host the World Cup, Commander of the National Force, Col. Alexandre Augusto Aragón, told website G1. "We were concerned about [World Cup security] before the protests in 2013. We aren’t going to wait for things to happen,” Aragón said.

Seven months ago, thousands protested in several cities in Brazil against class inequality and the expenditure of public funds on the World Cup and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. The protests coincided with the FIFA Confederations Cup.

A police force of 100,000 troops will join surveillance tasks in the host cities of the World Cup.

With advice from the U.S., Brazil has been training 50,000 members of the police force and 25,000 private security agents.

Security forces will also safeguard the airspace above the sporting events, according to authorities. For this purpose, Brazil recently acquired an aircraft artillery system, V/Shorad Saab/Bofors Dynamics AB RBS-70 NG Bolide, a unit (consisting of a shooting station, missiles, and associated equipment) for testing, according to the website Defensa.

The AB RBS-NG is a low-altitude air defense system with a defensive ability of safeguarding soccer fields within an 8 km radius and an altitude of up to 500,000 meters. It can also intercept cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft.

The MANPADS device will share the tasks of protecting the airspace at sporting venues together with the IGLA-S portable defense system, and the armored air defense system, Gepard 1A2.

The RBS-70-NG will be available in Brazil with trained personnel by March. Brazil has invested about US$ 500 million on equipment and technology for security at the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, Mendoza Mora said. "Law enforcement coverage will not only be needed in certain areas, but also in many transit areas," Mendoza Mora said.

The elite forces have the capability to provide a "sensitive and advanced" response, and mobile command centers of the security forces are very well equipped, he said. “The Armed Forces and police forces must strengthen their contact and cooperation with friendly services at the international level - in terms of intelligence and information sharing - to prevent threats from organized crime or radical groups that try to use a chemical device or something similar,” Mendoza said.

Public protests, organized crime, and the state’s diminished presence in certain areas will challenge the Brazilian government during the World Cup, Mendoza Mora said.

But the event will also provide an opportunity to strengthen security forces in the fight against crime and make progress in territorial control, he said.

The football tournament will have "the highest level of security imaginable" to prevent violent demonstrations, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said.

Public support for UPPs

The Police Pacifying Units (UPPs) have earned the support of most favela residents because they are so effective. UPPs have done a good job 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 vast majority of the population supports the pacification units, mainly because of the sense of security they feel,” said Capt. Ilmar Ubiratan Salgado Luzia, a PM Officer who is assigned to the UPPs Department of Social Communication.

“The factors that motivate success are mainly the confidence the population has in the work of the peacekeeping force,” Salgado Luzia explained.

The UPPs have greatly improved life in Santa Marta and other favelas, where 20 percent of Rio de Janeiro’s 6.5 million residents live. Like many other residents, Saucedo is grateful for the police initiative.

“Beginning in 2009 in Santa Marta, we began to feel confident in going out into the streets because of the work of the police force, which took back the neighborhoods and confronted very dangerous criminal bands who terrorized everyone,” said Saucedo, a street vendor who sells candy and cigarettes.

The success of the UPPs has fostered “a closer relationship with communities through civic and social events, activities with children, neighborhood association meetings, among others,” according to the captain.

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