Rio: An island of relative safety in a sea of vulnerability?
Rio de Janeiro has made strides to improve public safety, leading the way for Brazil's other 26 states. But with upcoming mega-events, coordination between federal and state forces is still needed.
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At the time, O Globo newspaper reported on this during a meeting in Brasília to discuss mega-event security and policy.Skip to next paragraph
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The paper said that according to the justice ministry’s special secretariat for large events, the 2012-14 national budget for equipment and training is equivalent to $585 million. Special Secretary Valdinho Caetano was quoted as saying that the federal government would buy equipment for state public safety providers. One assumes the lion’s share will go to Rio, but it’s not clear just how it will be spent.
“We want a new more integrated way of providing public safety, with interfaces between federal agencies such as [the intelligence agency] Abin and state agencies, with an exchange of information,” he told O Globo. “Those who come to Rio for the events will find tranquility, as we saw in London. And Rio’s citizenry can be sure that public safety is here to stay, that there’ll be a legacy.”
Since that August meeting of state public safety secretaries and federal officials, the only news (with a couple of exceptions) is that in early September the federal government increased Rio state’s borrowing capacity by US$ 3.5 billion equivalent, partly to pay for public safety equipment. No further public mention has been made of interfaces – or joint agency training, planning, or coordination.
“The negotiation with the [federal government] was important, because now we have guarantees that the military police will be modernized, from vehicles to uniforms and the revision of the police academy curriculum,” a police spokesperson told RioRealblog. Mega-event security per se, the spokesperson noted, is constitutionally Brasília’s responsibility, with local public safety forces taking on the rest of the city.
Whatever the money is spent on, there’s clearly much to be done within and across agencies. Brazil’s Federal Police, responsible under Justice Ministry jurisdiction for the country’s borders, struck for over two months this year for pay raises and other demands; O Globo called it the largest strike in the agency’s union history. Rio’s military police and firemen struck earlier this year.
Federal Police say they’re overworked and that a new institution ought to be created to relieve them of immigration duties, which have mushroomed in the last few years above all because of the petroleum industry’s need for foreign staff – mostly in Rio.
Rio de Janeiro has made enormous strides to improve public safety, leading the way for the country’s other 26 states. This is partly why the city is now viewed as a suitable location for mega-events.
Proud of their warm friendships, both personal and diplomatic, Brazilians are loathe to imagine the kind of attack that took place during the 1972 Olympics, when Palestinians killed Israelis on German soil. And people here rarely worry about shoe bombs. This is obvious when you zip fully shod through security in any airport, as inspectors chat, smile, and wish you a wonderful journey.
Worry is low on the cultural totem pole. Brazilians dallied about fifteen years before adopting seat belts, ultimately strapped in by high fines. Backseat use is still iffy.
But about national security, Mr. Beltrame is one worried man. Which can only be a good thing for Rio de Janeiro.
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