by Álvaro Rossi, BA Candidate in Economic and Political Science, Columbia University.
The year of 2016 has been a challenging one for political economists. From the unexpected results of the Brexit and Peace referendums in Great Britain and Colombia respectively, to the unprecedented election of real estate mogul Donald Trump as President of the United States, the past 11 months have presented some of the most unforeseen political events in the last years. Political economists, charged with developing theories behind voting behavior, were shaken with the collective political choices of 2017. Continue reading “Facultative Voting and the Erosion of the Median Voter Theorem”→
On the morning of April 22nd 2014 the body of 26-year-old Douglas Pereira, the talented dancer of a popular television show, was found on the yard of a kindergarten in Rio de Janeiro’s Pavão-Pavãozinho slum. Locals and his family refused to believe the initial police statement according to which the injuries were compatible with a death caused by fall. Instead they took to the streets. Images of burning car tires and testimonies of gunfire between the police and the community spread like wildfire in international media. Another man lost his life during the disarray. The kick-off of the FIFA Word Cup was less than seven weeks away and the eyes of the world were fixed on Brazil.
The following day the uncomfortable truth behind Douglas’ death was announced. His slender body had been penetrated by a lethal bullet, which was later matched to a police firearm.
Nearly a year has passed since Douglas was murdered. Despite delays in the investigations his mother Maria de Fátima hopes the officer who triggered the killer weapon will be brought to justice. There is, however, a hint of despair in her voice on the other end of the phone line.
“The police was created to arrest, not to kill“, Maria de Fátima says and compares the Brazilian police to a combat force. “But the system is very corrupt and I just wonder how they will ever manage to pull these bad officers off the streets”, she adds and wishes that God will deliver justice in case the Brazilian judicial system fails to do so.
How to integrate marginalized populations into the social and economic fabric of our societies is the premier public policy challenge of this century. Ahead of the World Cup and Olympic Games, the government of Rio de Janeiro has been aggressively seeking to regain control of and integrate select favelas (shantytowns) into the larger city. This has been done principally by the State government’s police pacification program, which permanently establishes a community-policing unit (UPP) to maintain security gains, along with UPP Social to facilitate social and physical investments (Municipal Government of Rio de Janeiro, 2013). In response to this public investment in physical capital and security in formerly inaccessible real estate markets, international and Brazilian speculators and developers are buying up valuable property while it is cheap (Steele, 2013). While existing favela homeowners with titles to their land have gained from increased land value, there is growing concern that their children will not be able to afford to buy a home in the neighborhood or even afford to rent after the mega-events (Barbassa, 2012).