Commentary & Forums, Dossiers, From the Field, Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond

The Brazilian Military, Public Security, and Rio de Janeiro’s “Pacification”

The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Stephanie Savell with the latest entry in our forum Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond.
Army soldier addresses resident of Complexo do Alemão. Photo: Bruno Itan.

Army soldier addresses resident of Complexo do Alemão. Photo: Bruno Itan.

The Brazilian army and marines have in recent years played a more visible role in the provision of public security in Rio de Janeiro. The army currently occupies the sprawling set of informal neighborhoods, or favelas, known as Complexo da Maré, a “temporary solution” timed to accompany World Cup events in the city. The occupation, intended to repress the local control of drug trafficking gangs, will be followed by the installation of more permanent “Police Pacifying Units,” or “UPPs,” as part of Rio’s favela “pacification” program.

Between 2011 and 2012, the armed forces similarly occupied the favela Complexo do Alemão, where I lived for a year conducting ethnographic research (2013-2014). Here, based on that research, I examine the significance of the army’s participation in public security.

Many insiders and keen observers of security in Rio were quick to tell me that the army’s deployment in police pacification is not a trend – Alemão was unique, they said. But in addition to the current deployment in Maré, there are other indications to the contrary. In recent years, the constitutional clause, Garantia da Lei e da Ordem (GLO), or “Guarantee of Law and Order,” which allows for the use of the military in public security operations, has been continuously elaborated and refined. Under former President Lula’s administration, and now under Dilma Rousseff, the military has been used for an increasing number of situations, from pacification to oil auctions to the Pope’s visit and the World Cup. These are not isolated events; they invite us to question the military’s provision of public security and how it is understood, especially by security forces and by the urban poor whose neighborhoods the military patrols. Continue reading

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Commentary & Forums, Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond

The Politics of Violence and Brazil’s World Cup

The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Sean T. Mitchell with the latest entry in our forum Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond.

A June 19, 2014 São Paulo protest called by the Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement) to protest transport fares and conditions, but mischaracterized internationally as an “Antigovernment” and “World Cup” protest. The banner in front reads, “There will be no fare.” Photo. Oliver Kornblihtt/ Midia NINJA

A June 19, 2014 São Paulo protest called by the Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement) to protest transport fares and conditions was mischaracterized internationally as an “Antigovernment” and “World Cup” protest. The banner in front reads, “There will be no fare.” Photo: Oliver Kornblihtt/ Midia NINJA

 

On Failure, Violence, and the World Cup

Not unlike the 2010 hoopla anticipating that year’s South Africa World Cup, the breathless expectation of failure and security breakdown that characterized much international coverage of the lead up to Brazil’s 2014 World Cup, now, midway through the month-long event, seems to have been illfounded.

When reporting wasn’t merely what Meg Stalcup characterized on this forum as fluff—which much of it was—pre World Cup coverage in the global north press was overheated and macabre.  Why?

The last year has seen the emergence of large scale Brazilian protest movements of clear importance, and the World Cup has been a target of their criticism.  But the macabre emphasis on violence and failure has obscured much more than it has illuminated about these movements, and about the real violence and social conflicts in contemporary Brazil.

To understand why so much coverage has taken this lurid form, it helps to look at historical representations of peace and violence in Brazil, as well as contemporary politics in Brazil and abroad.

Continue reading

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