Society

National Politics, Society, Sustainable Cities

Public safety in NYC and Rio de Janeiro: parallel or poles apart?


No Comments

By Caroline Tauk

[7 min read]

New York City is the largest and safest US metropolis[1]. Per capita crime rates have been dropping since the mid-1990s. In 2017, the city recorded its lowest number of homicides since 1950: under 300 murders in a year[2]. As a carioca, it’s difficult to avoid comparing these statistics with Rio de Janeiro, a city notorious for its high criminality rate. In 2016, the city of Rio had 1,909 violent deaths resulting from homicides, robberies and bodily injury followed by death. At the end of 2017, the entire state of Rio saw a record-setting 6,731 violent deaths[3]. It seems that, in terms of public safety, the two cities are polar opposites: a crime rate at record lows on one hand and an alarmingly and increasing high crime rate in the other. The experience exchange between Brazil and the United States in this area is old[4]. However, recent public safety data available at the police departments from the two cities shows that the debate remains as relevant as ever.

It is clear that Rio’s and Brazil’s context is peculiar. Despite a positive economic growth, on average, in the last decade[5], wealth and opportunity inequality is still considerable[6]: in 2017, the richest 10% of the population concentrated 55% of the national income. Add to that political instability and low priority of criminal justice reform. Drug use by Brazilians is growing and much of Brazil’s violence and criminality are linked to organized crime. Further, a disproportionate number of young black men are arrested and prosecuted for diverse crimes: while 53% of the Brazilian population over 15 years declare themselves black, 64% of prisoners are black. Of every 100 homicides in Brazil, 71 are within the black population[7]. Although socio-political factors are somewhat different, is it possible to learn from the American experience?

(more…)

Blog, National Politics, Society, Uncategorized

The killing of Marielle Franco on the UN radar


No Comments

by Gustavo Macedo

[8 minute read]

On March 14th, less than a month into a federal military intervention that is supposed to fix the security crisis in the state of Rio de Janeiro, the brutal assassination of a Rio de Janeiro’s Councilwoman, Marielle Franco, has dragged new actors into an already intricate political situation – and this time they are international. The United Nations (UN), which had already been expressing concerns about the unfolding political situation, may now dive into the story head first.

The case of Marielle meets all the criteria for setting the UN machinery in motion. Politically, the great commotion that the story of Marielle’s murder generated nationally in Brazil earned it international political attention, including that of the UN, an organization that strategically chooses to focus its work on emblematic cases that can serve as examples of the fight for human rights around the world. Technically, the history of other recent similar cases killings in Brazil, the profile of the victim, the circumstances of the crime, its modus operandi and the allegations of people close to the victim should, in theory, be sufficient in order for the case to be picked up by the UN.

(more…)

Blog, National Politics, Society

What can we learn from the Brazilian concealed carry prohibition?


No Comments

by Rodrigo Schneider

[7 minute read]

In 2003, Brazilian Congress approved legislation that banned the carrying of concealed weapons nationwide and provided for a voter referendum 22 months later regarding whether to ban the sale of all firearms in Brazil. Whether this restrictive law was effective in reducing crimes is still controversial and I use a statistical design to identify the causal effects of this legislation and provide more explicit evidence to elucidate this law’s consequences.[1]

(more…)

National Politics, Society

Brazil’s Deadly Bill Against Women


By Fernando Haddad Moura, Editor and Writer at Brazil Talk

[4 minute read]

Every day 4 women die due to complications in abortions in Brazil. Estimates put the global number at around 50 thousand deaths annually, placing Brazil as one of the countries with the highest abortion mortality rates. The vast majority of these deaths are a result of clandestine procedures. Since abortion is still criminalized in Brazil young and poor women who cannot afford to seek out a private, willing doctor to perform safe surgeries. Currently, women can choose to abort if any of the following hold true: (i) the pregnancy is a result of rape; (ii) if it poses risks to the mother’s life; (iii) or if the fetus is anencephalic. Reasons that are legitimate due to their cruel and unfair conditions. Unfortunately, the word choose cited above may soon no longer exist. Last week a special commission of the Brazilian House of Representatives approved a proposed constitutional amendment (PEC 181) that criminalizes all forms of abortion, including the aforementioned conditions. The commission passed Congressman Jorge Tadeu Mudalen’s proposal initially focused on increasing maternity leave for mothers with premature babies. After the approval by 18 to 1 (the only vote against was from a woman), the bill now goes to the floor where an increasingly conservative and religious House, composed 91% of men, will decide the future of millions of Brazilian women. It is urgent that pressure be made by society so the bill is rejected and Brazil does not go back to the list of only five countries in the world where abortion is prohibited. After all, it’s women’s bodies, their burden and it should be their decision.

(more…)

Blog, National Politics, Society, Uncategorized

Is contemporary slavery a contemporary issue in Brazil?


By Fernando Haddad Moura, Editor and Writer at Brazil Talk

[5 min read]

In the late 19th century Ed Morel discovered how Belgian companies were exploring Congolese natives forcing them to collect thousands of pounds of rubber to enrich their European colonial powers. Those that didn’t obey were beaten and had their hands cut off to be set as an example for anyone who’d dare defy their leaders.

In a country set thousands of miles from the Congo, the Belgians had no idea of what was going on, and if it weren’t for Morel and his team of missionaries and other informants, the exploitation might have continued up to present days. This sad account of Congo’s history, told by Adam Hochschild in the globally acclaimed novel King Leopold’s Ghost gives an excellent example of how companies can act if they aren’t held accountable and if no one is looking. It reflects how, in the search of maximizing their profits, unethical corporations and their suppliers might be willing to ignore international treaties and submit people to terrible conditions.

(more…)