Will The Olympics Hurt Rio's Poor?
Suzy Khimm believes that having "clinched the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, [Rio’s new mayor Eduardo Paes] will likely have carte blanche to do what he wants on the security front." Some context:
Security crackdowns in Rio de Janeiro have often amounted to police raids on the sprawling shantytowns, home to a third of the city’s population, where drug traffickers have ensconced themselves. The resulting gun battles have killed scores of innocent bystanders--predominately poor and working-class residents of the favelas--thus contributing to the stunning 2,069 murders that happened in Rio last year.
Yes, the traffickers themselves are ruthless, exerting a mafia-like control over the shantytowns they occupy and burning buses full of civilians to retaliate against police pushback. But Brazilian police have fed the cycle of violence by acting outside the law, committing extrajudicial killings and massacres that human rights groups and the U.N. itself have denounced. (Off-duty police officers have even taken to forming their own gang-like militias, which now control some 15 percent of Rio’s slums.) It’s a legacy of Brazil’s oft-forgotten military dictatorship, whose worst atrocities were often carried out by the country’s division of “military police” and who were never held accountable for their crimes. As a result, certain divisions of the military police have continued to act with impunity in an otherwise burgeoning democracy--and the favela crackdowns bring out their worst instincts.