Brazilian President Michel Temer announced on Friday that national Armed Forces would intervene in Rio de Janeiro, in response to a request from state governor Luiz Fernando Pezão. The intention is to strengthen and better integrate public security in the city. The President signed a federal decree, saying in a short statement to press in Brasília, “The government will respond harshly and will take all steps to confront and defeat organized crime.”
For the decree to be permanently established for its intended length, until December 31 this year, it must also be voted upon by House and Senate separately. This is due to happen on Monday, February 19, at 7 pm. After Congress votes, Armed Forces which arrived in Rio on Friday will preside over Civil and Military Police in Rio.
Is it an electoral stunt?
The intervention could very well be the focal point of Temer’s reelection bid. In a country that saw 61,619 murders in just 2016, violence is a topic that strikes a chord. In a speech to explain the intervention, Temer sounded very much like a candidate. We highlight some parts of it:
“We have already rescued progress, and brought the country back from its worst recession. Now, we’ll bring back order.”
“Our prisons will no longer serve as office spaces for criminal, nor will our public squares serve as ballrooms for organized crime.”
“Our roads should be safe for honest drivers, not routes to transport drugs and firearms.”
Security hierarchy alterations
Troops have previously helped to enforce public security during mega-events like the Olympics, and during large-scale police operations like those seen in recent months in the favelas of Rocinha and Complexo do Alemão. But recent attempts to curtail violence in Rio by brute force have not necessarily worked out: for example, despite military presence, cargo thefts hit a record high of almost 11,000 cases last year.