By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While the bad news piles up for Brazil and Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Olympics, last week on May 19th the Public Security Institute (ISP) released their state security crime report for the month of April with an alarming increase in homicides. In April 2016, 471 homicides were reported, a 38.9 percent increase over April 2015, which had 339 reported.
Another discouraging statistic is that the homicides in the state grew for the fourth consecutive month, between January to April 2016. This also represents a 15.4 percent increase over the same period in 2015 (1,486 in 2015 verses 1715 in 2016).
Rio’s State Security Secretary, José Mariano Beltrame said, “The indexes are not good. There was a significant increase especially in places where we had managed to fall, as Baixada Fluminense, São Gonçalo and Niterói. Rio de Janeiro remained more or less the same.”
“The truth is that in fact the entire state, for the fourth or fifth consecutive month, there was this increase. There was a range of increases which for us was very bad. We have growing reports of resistance murders [killing by police], we had a series of crimes that went up.”
It was reported the same day by government news sources that Beltrame will ask the federal government for military troops to strengthen policing at strategic locations during the Olympics and Paralympics. Though Beltrame met on May 19th with the Minister of interim Defense, Raul Jungmann, the official request must be made by the governor, Francisco Dornelles, to interim President Michel Temer.
The interim Defense Minister said that an army brigade of 3,000 men is on hand in Santa Catarina and Minas Gerais, in case of any emergency. The Army will also provide about 15,000 military and contingency forces that will be ready during the Olympics.
Beltrame did not have much concern regarding the safety of the Olympics itself, but expressed concern about the post-Olympic period. “In the Olympics, since we are sure that we have full support from various ministries and the various police and believe it will pass normally. But I also have to have concern for the public safety of the city, and citizens after the event ends, when all this support goes away,” he said.
This will not come as a surprise to critics as in March the state government announced it would cut approximately R$2 billion from the more than R$10 billion that had been originally planned for the security sector’s budget this year. According to Secretary Beltrame, this cut reduces investments in security to “almost zero.”