Asserting the democratic rule of law and recovering social peace is a difficult task, especially in places like Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and Colombia’s one-time, crime-ridden cities and war-torn countryside. Democratic and sustainable crime control means establishing state control in places where it has never been present or where it was lost long ago. It also means more than just plopping down an occupying, even pacifying force. Establishing and maintaining peace requires developing a state that can deliver services to local populations.
My recent trip and discussions with police, policymakers and experts on this theme in Rio have reminded me this is no easy task.
The term “failed state” has become a fashionable term to describe countries like Somalia, Afghanistan and Haiti, but we also now know that there can be pockets of state failure elsewhere. While not as broad, dangerous or deep as those countries teetering on the edge of anarchy, pockets of failed states suffer from the same need: to develop the institutional and physical infrastructure to integrate deprived communities into the nation state and the legal market economy.
For the last two days I’ve been traveling with a group of security experts to observe and discuss with Sérgio Cabral, the governor of Rio de Janeiro, the state’s security plan to prepare for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Among the group were former NYC Police Commissioner and LAPD Chief William Bratton and his colleague (and AQ co-author) Bill Andrews, former Vice President of Costa Rica and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Kevin Casas Zamora, local civil society, private-sector leaders, and the leadership of the newly created “pacification police” (policia pacificadora), or as their local units on the ground are called, UPPs. The latter is a police force created by Governor Cabral that serves as local beat cops in the crime-ridden favelas.
Brazilian federal police announced yesterday that, beginning next month, they intend to use unmanned spy planes for surveillance purposes in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The planes, which are equipped with high definition video cameras and radars, will monitor activities in those cities and along the country’s borders with Paraguay and Bolivia to combat drug- and gang-related crime.
The deal follows an October 2009 incident in which drug gangs shot down a police helicopter during a gun battle between rival gangs in Rio de Janeiro. Security has become a top priority for the federal and local governments in Brazil as the country prepares to host both the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics in 2016.
The Heron drones are manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and were part of a $350 million security deal signed between Brazil and Israel last week during Israeli President Shimon Peres’ state visit. The first phase of the deal will involve the transfer of three unmanned planes, a base station and control and inspection systems. The second phase will allow Brazil to purchase 11 more drones.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.