Tuesday, January 10, 2012

who guards the guardians

The New York Times offers a recap of the violent doings of the police in Rio de Janeiro. Which brings up the question: with the growth of the program of so-called 'pacification' that pushes drug dealers out from their perches in the favelas and replaces them with the police, are they making life in the favelas any better. One answer, from Alba Zaluar, a famous Brazilian academic who has long studied police tactics in Rio: “They’re invading, watching over, buying favelas from traffickers.” Not comforting words.

It's long been known that the police take payoffs from the drug gangs. It's long been known that most of the shooting deaths in Rio involve the cops. As the Times article shows, the cops are just like the drug dealers--they're not afraid to torture and kill people they perceive as their enemies, and the top echelon of police militia leaders run their semi-official gangs from jail.

Pacification, it seems, only replaces one brutal criminal gang with another. And the new one may be worse. The police are invaders and occupiers with no roots in the favelas. At least the drug dealers were communitarian outlaws.

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