Brazilian military officially in command of Rio’s police

World Today

Brazilian military officially in command of Rio's police

Brazil’s military is now officially in charge of Rio de Janiero’s police after the Brazilian congress approved last week’s decree. But critics and supporters of the measure are concerned about how effective it will be. CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

Soldiers have already started operations in Rio de Janeiro after a presidential decree ordered the military to take over the command of security operations in Brazil’s second largest city.

Violence has been on the rise, with daily shootouts between rival drug gangs and the police, all while the city is mired in a deep financial crisis.

Some businessmen agree with the initiative.

“Maybe is not the ideal measure, but certainly is necessary measure. Rio de Janeiro is living a very difficult moment because of the lack the security but this has to come together with social actions,” Aldo Goncalves, president of the city’s Retailers Association said.

But doubts have been raised about the real purpose of a military intervention, the first of its kind since the end of Brazil’s military rule in 1985.

Luiz Eduardo Soares, an anthropologist who served as National Public security secretary in 2013, believes this military strategy has been tried several times in the past at great expense – and has always failed.

“The army is not prepared to deal with public security,” Soares said. “It is trained to fight wars and see suspects as enemies to be killed, and that is not the way to approach a civilian conflict, so there is a contradiction between the means and the ends.”

Another consequence of the decree is that president Michel Temer will have to shelve an unpopular pension reform. The country’s constitution prohibits such changes during a military intervention.

But that could be to his advantage, said Mauricio Santoro, a political analyst at Rio de Janeiro’s State Univeristy.

“The federal intervention in Rio is a big political bet for President Temer. If the city becomes safer, is going to boost his popularity, and he may run for re-election or support one of his allies to the post.”

“At the same time , the intervention is a very good excuse for him no to put to vote the controversial pension reform,” Santoro explained.

Though the security plan has not been revealed, the army will be in command at least until after the October presidential elections. Both critics and supporters of the intervention, however, agree that soldiers and guns will not be enough to fix Rio’s deep-rooted problems of violence.