Murders in Brazil fall to lowest in 14 years

murders Active crime scene in Salvador, Bahia. Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock
Active crime scene in Salvador, Bahia. Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock

According to the Violence Monitor study, the number of murders in Brazil has dropped 7 percent in 2021. The survey is carried out by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, University of São Paulo researchers, and news website G1, measuring violent crimes in Brazil on a yearly basis since 2007. The almost 41,100 violent deaths recorded last year was the lowest total since the study began.

Researchers point out multiple reasons for the reduction. Among them is the increasing “professionalization” of drug gangs, which have learned to compete with each other in less conflictual ways or created self-regulatory mechanisms to reduce casualties within their ranks. 

But police forces have also become more effective in dealing with organized crime, with departments sharing more information and cooperating more consistently to reduce gangs’ means to control the drug trade from within the prison system.

During President Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, the number of firearms in the hands of civilians doubled — but Violence Monitor researchers say that doesn’t have an effect on murder trends, though it may lead to a sharp increase in “circumstantial homicides,” such as those resulting from arguments in traffic, bars, and nightclubs.