By Arkady Petrov
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Military and Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro killed 434 people from January to March of this year, according to the ISP (Institute of Public Security). Almost five (4.82) were killed per day, a record for the period in the 21-year statistical series, which began in 1998. The deaths continue into the current quarter.
In just four days in May, from Friday, May 3, to Monday, May 6, at least 13 people died as a result of police action: four in the Borel hill (north zone), one in Rocinha (south zone) and eight in the favelas of Complexo da Maré (north zone).
Specialists are showing concern regarding the spike in deaths. It began, they say, in 2018, during the federal security intervention, and grew during the administration of Wilson Witzel, whose security policy consists of confronting suspects.
“We were already seeing an increase, especially last year, due to the federal intervention led by the military,” said sociologist Ignacio Cano, coordinator of LAV/Uerj (Violence Analysis Laboratory at the State University of Rio de Janeiro).
“Now, with the new policy of extermination enacted by the Witzel government, what we should have expected was just that. The opposite would be a big surprise.” The increase was 18 percent over the first quarter of 2018, in which there were 368 killings in alleged confrontations.
Maré residents denounced the fact that the community operation, which was the height of the police offensive in the first days of May, included shots fired from the helicopter that flew over the complex.
Images of uniformed students running through the streets of the favelas to protect themselves from gunfire circulated on social media. There were also complaints about shots fired from the aircraft hitting the roofs of houses in the region.
Police officers have also been victims of the policy of confrontation. According to the Military Police, by May 9 of 2019, 18 officers of that police force had been killed – three on duty, 11 off duty and four retired.