In today’s issue: What’s behind Brazil’s drop in murders. After ‘pact,’ government believes in rapid vote on pension reform. Unqualified labor can’t occupy basic spots. The rape accusation against Neymar.

What’s behind Brazil’s drop in murders

In 2018, Brazil registered its biggest drop in murders in over a decade (13%)—a trend that has continued this year.

Gang wars are the main reasons for spikes in murder rates across several states in the past few years—while peace between drug lords is also part of the lowering number of deaths. Meanwhile, authorities in some states have adopted a harder—but organized—stance against organized crime, such as:</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stricter monitoring inside prisons, with constant search and seize operations to detect the presence of drugs or cell phones inside cells. Many prisons implemented the so-called &#8220;Differentiated Disciplinary System,&#8221; which segregates dangerous inmates in individual cells with close monitoring.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Transfer of notorious gang leaders to federal maximum security facilities—where they will have a tougher time communicating with other gang members.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Integration between law enforcement, security forces, and the justice system. In many states where murder rates dropped as much as 30% in 2018, authorities created a special Homicides division (in general, Brazil solves only 8% of murder cases).</span></p> <p><b>Why this matters. </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Bruno Paes Manso, a researcher at the University of São Paulo&#8217;s Center for Violence Studies, organized crime and drug trafficking in Brazil is structured on connections between gang members outside and inside prisons (which have, in turn, become major recruiting centers). &#8220;But criminals prefer peace, as war is too costly for their business. So when the state promotes intelligent and strategic action, it kind of forces them into a truce.&#8221;</span></p> <ul> <li><b>Go deeper: </b><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Drop in homicides provides much-needed boost to Brazilian public security</span></a></li> </ul> <hr> <h2>After &#8216;pact,&#8217; government believes in rapid vote on pension reform</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After last week&#8217;s &#8220;pact&#8221; between President Bolsonaro and the heads of both congressional houses, government officials believe the pension reform will be approved before lawmakers go on their July vacations. Reality may not pan out that way, however. Several congressmen say the pension reform will only be discussed after the House votes on a bill stripping much of the government&#8217;s power over the budget and handing it to Congress.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The budget bill is processing in a special House committee—exactly the same stage in which the pension reform currently sees itself. May 30 was the last day for congressmen to propose amendments to the proposal, and now the rapporteur will present his report. After a vote in the committee, the project goes to the floor.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This amendment to the Constitution had already been approved by the House, but senators made an alteration to the text, meaning it must be re-validated by the lower house. The bill states that the administration must honor investments proposed by lawmakers. If it passes, the government will effectively control only 3% of the budget—making it harder to comply with fiscal responsibility rules.</span></p> <hr> <h2>Unqualified labor can&#8217;t occupy basic spots</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From time to time, multiple companies hold joint events to offer jobs. With unemployment rates at 12.5%, these job fairs often gather huge crowds. However, 60% of the 11,800 spots recently offered have not been filled—mainly due to the candidates&#8217; lack of skills to express themselves, do simple math, have basic knowledge in operating a computer or speak basic English, to name but a few.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the National Confederation of Commerce, the <a href=",sem-qualificacao-parte-dos-brasileiros-nao-consegue-ocupar-vagas-basicas,70002852842">abyss</a> between workers&#8217; qualifications (or lack thereof) and what companies is unlikely to disappear even after the economy picks up again. The institution foresees that 20% of today&#8217;s unemployed will remain out of the workforce due to their lack of qualifications. The group of workers with virtually no chance of getting a new job should jump from 635,000 to 1.4m in 10 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What could help this group of people is increased investment in infrastructure—which would spike the demand for unqualified labor. In Saturday&#8217;s Weekly Report, we showed that even having a diploma, however, is </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">far from a guarantee</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of a shot in a job. That&#8217;s because many people, at great costs, only manage to finance low-quality studies—which makes them less productive.</span></p> <hr> <h2>The rape accusation against Neymar</h2> <div id="attachment_18439" style="width: 634px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-18439" class="size-full wp-image-18439" src="" alt="neymar denies rape accusation calls it extortion" width="624" height="416" srcset=" 624w, 300w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 624px) 100vw, 624px" /><p id="caption-attachment-18439" class="wp-caption-text">Neymar denies rape accusation, and calls it &#8220;extortion&#8221;</p></div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On Saturday, a woman filed a police report in São Paulo accusing Brazil forward Neymar of rape. The document alleges that the plaintiff got to know the footballer on Instagram and was invited to meet with him in Paris on May 15. The report states that Neymar arrived at the accuser&#8217;s hotel that evening and &#8220;at a certain moment, he became aggressive, and using violence, he had sexual relations against the will&#8221; of the accuser.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A police investigation is ongoing and will remain under seal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On the same day, the player&#8217;s father, Neymar Santos Sr., went on live TV to deny the accusations against his son, in a report which disclosed the full name of the accuser, violating police confidentiality. The footballer himself published a video to his 119m followers, in which he showed the contents of his WhatsApp Messenger conversation with the accuser, including nude pictures of the woman in question.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazilian law states that disclosing nude or pornographic images of an individual without their consent is a crime punishable with 1 to 5 years in jail. The civil police of Rio de Janeiro announced that it will open an investigation into the photo leak, and will seize Neymar&#8217;s cellphone for examination later today.</span></p> <h5><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">This story about Neymar will be featured on </span></i><b><i>The Brazilian Report</i></b><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8216;s new Sports newsletter. Every Monday, we&#8217;ll talk about the big stories, but also go into the culture, politics, and business behind Brazilian Sports. <a href="">Subscribe now</a>. Issue #1 will be delivered at 10 am.</span></i></h5> <hr> <h2>Also noteworthy</h2> <p><b>Healthcare.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> After 50 days of a flu vaccination campaign targeting senior citizens and children, the government has now made the vaccine available for the entire population. Until Friday, 20% of the target audience remained unvaccinated—with the government being 11.9m-people short of its 90% target coverage. Only 6 states met the goal, with Rio de Janeiro posting the lowest vaccination rate: only 63%.</span></p> <p><b>HIV.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> The state government of São Paulo will recruit 354 volunteers for an international trial of a new drug to prevent HIV infection. Cabotegravir is an injection medication with effects lasting up to 2 months. It is expected to replace PrEP pills, which only work if taken daily.</span></p> <p><b>Crime.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Justice Minister Sérgio Moro meets Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez today in Pedro Juan Caballero. The city is separated from the Brazilian town of Ponta Porã only by a street—but no border—and is one of the major entry ways for drugs coming from Paraguay to Brazil, having its day to day life tormented by shootouts and executions. The meeting will discuss how countries in the region can integrate and be a part of a joint anti-drug effort.</span></p> <p><b>Political reform.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> The subject of political reform is recurring in Congress—but usually lawmakers don&#8217;t promote real change, just minor tweaks to protect their privileges and favor incumbents in elections. But Senate President Davi Alcolumbre promises this time will be different. He asked his aides to compile all bills regarding reforms to the electoral system, and has decided to put the subject to a vote before October—the deadline for any change to be enforced in next year&#8217;s municipal elections.</span></p> <p><b>Mercosur.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> President Jair Bolsonaro visits Argentina for the first time on Thursday, when he meets with his counterpart Mauricio Macri to discuss bilateral relations and the South American trade union, Mercosur. The meeting happens amid a tense </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">re-election campaign</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> for Mr. Macri—who could lose the race to the Peronist party still in the first round.

Read the full story NOW!

BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.