Leave it to Maierovitch, Wálter Fanangiello — a former federal judge and drugs czar turned organized crime pundit — to answer the burning question.
Is the Brazilian police getting better? How does its recent high-profile action in Rio compare with past performance? Maierovitch thinks pretty well.
The column ran in Terra Magazine.
Attention: There was no shedding of innocent blood in the operations to regain territorial control of the Complexo do Alemão and the Vila Cruzeiro in Rio de Janeiro.
Fortunately, we saw in this case a notable exception to the traditional war mentality that has too often resulted in the application of a de facto death penalty.
Example: In São Paulo, the police invasion that regained control of Pavilion 9 of the Casa de Detenção produced the notorious Carandiru Massacre.
This paramilitary operation on October 2, 1992 left 111 prisoners dead. The Casa de Detenção was part of the Carandiru state prison complex.
The commander of the action later ran for political office under the creepy ballot number 111 — one for every corpse.
He was murdered in recent years by a pissed-off girlfriend. This is what you get for keeping a whole lot of loaded guns ready to hand all around the house.
The prison has since been torn down and converted into a museum.
There was evidence of more summary executions in the last invasion of the Alemaõ just a few years ago.
Forensics showed that many of those killed were shot in the armpit–clear evidence that their hands were raised in surrender when they were shot by police.
On the other hand, allow me a comparison if you will. Felipe Calderón’s Mexico announced a “war on drugs and the drug cartels” in December 2006.. With the support of then-president George W. Bush, he called up nearly 50,000 Mexican soldiers.
In their bid to retake Ciudad Juarez, along the U.S. border with El Paso, Texas, the forces of law and order wound up retreatign in defeat. And Juarez offers a much more favorable geographical situation and urban infrastructure than Rocinha and Vidigal, for the purposes of a military occupation.
As of May 31,2010, Calderón’s military approach had produced 28,000 dead, 70% of the victims had no criminal record or connection tot he cartels.
Caldéron continues to rule out any nonmilitary solution, despite overwhelming evidence that the cartels are winning.
The only city more violent than Cidade Juarez is Darfur, in the Sudan. And in Juarez, the cartels have humiliated the government. In Juarez, the cartels have imposed a gag order on journalists, who are not allowed to report on its activities.
Darfur is, I think, a region, not a city. Googling.
In Mexico, Calderón’s war has imposed absolutely no economic cost on the drug trade..In late November, incapable of retreating and articulating a new policy, Calderón was expressing his optimism about winning war. According to him, fratricidal warfare among the cartels will make this possible : “They will kill each other off”. In other words, he admitted that the State cannot defeat them.
Well, then.. Today, a headline in O Globo informs us of a statement by the director of the state judicial police of Rio de Janeiro, Allan Turnowsky. Turnowsky says he and his mean are trained and ready to occupy Rocinha and Vidigal.
On a less cautious note, the commanding admiral of the Brazilian marine corps, boasted that there was no part of Rio that his marines were not capable of taking .
The police chief seems to want a war..
He seems to have forgotten peacekeeping tactics, which, it should be admitted, have been properly used to respond to attacks on the citizenry and the State Estado. These were coordinated attacks by a criminal organization, and police intelligence had leaked, well before the occupation of the Complexo do Alemão, the existence of a meeting between the rival Comando Vermelho and Amigos dos Amigos factions. These leaders and the big boss of the Complexo do Alemão sealed a deal to cooperate against the UPP program — the installation of permanent peacekeeping police stations in those communities. .
Turnowsky seems to have forgetten the UPPs. No civilian blood has been shed in the installation of 13 UPPs set up so far. Persuasion prevailed, and provoked a foreseeable migration of criminal organizations to other territories.
Retaking Rocinha and Vidigal should not turn into a predominantly paramilitary action. Turnowksy’s belligerent attitude should be reined in by his boss, public safety director Beltrame, who has proved himself a prudent man who respects the value of strategic planning..