A shakeup for Rio de Janeiro state police
The Rio de Janeiro state police's top officer resigned last week after saying he was responsible for the nomination of the police chief arrested with other officers in the killing of a judge.
There’s consensus in Rio de Janeiro that police corruption and criminality must be reduced. What we don’t know is if it’s possible to achieve this to a significant degree in an environment where politicians tomam posse (take possession [of office]) and then bring in trusted people to occupy cargos de confiança (posts of confidence).Skip to next paragraph
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Widespread corruption and scant trust in society at large mean that every deed and every word, especially on the part of public figures, requires the interpretation of a Torah scholar. Even the media, with needs that don’t always match those of readers and viewers, cannot be trusted.
Thus we get tweets such as this one, from former State Public Safety Secretary Marcelo Itagiba: “New commander changes everything once again. One dum-dum steps down and another one takes his place. Institutional instability. There’s no line of action. Only a changing of the guard.” Mr. Itagiba served under Governor Anthony Garotinho, accused of corruption and recently found guilty of illegal media usage for electoral purposes.
Because reading between the lines is a time-consuming process, most people either mistrust all information unless it comes from a close friend or relative – or they turn to conspiracy theory. Like gossip, theories are easy to invent and spread. And a conspiracy theory is occasionally correct.
So it could well be that, as Itagiba and many other observers posit, the new public safety policy is mere window-dressing for Governor $érgio (this is how Itagiba writes his name) Cabral’s money-grubbing. After all, his dubious connections, long suspected, came to light just a few months ago.
In his tweets, Itagiba suggests that current Public Safety Secretary José Mariano Beltrame is in on both arms of the theory. Others believe he’s trying to do his job, but is at odds with the governor. Thus Thursday’s change in police chiefs brought speculation about whose man is or was whose, the secretary’s or the governor’s.
Then, recent news that new police chief Erir Ribeiro Costa Filho is changing the occupants of more than thirteen top positions in the Rio state military police force, including the key post of police pacification commander, sparked new doubts and provided new information. If this is window-dressing, it’s pretty fancy stuff. Or, as the O Globo headline reads, it’s a crisis.
Or part of a long-term process?
Colonel Mário Sérgio Duarte was police chief for so long – two years! – that it’s easy to forget that Mr. Beltrame has changed chiefs several times. In January 2008, he traded in a chief who made the mistake of joining a wage protest march, for an intelligence specialist. This is probably when the police pacification strategy was being drafted. In July 2009, out went the intelligence specialist and in came Colonel Mário Sérgio Duarte.