Drugs & Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: Trafficking, Social Networks, & Public Security

By Enrique Desmond Arias | Go to book overview

ONE
Setting the Scene: Continuities and
Discontinuities in a “Divided City”

On 17 July 2003, O Globo, Rio de Janeiro’s leading newspaper, reported that the wealthiest portion of the city’s exclusive Zona Sul (South Zone) had the highest Human Development Index in the world as compared to full-scale nation-states. With a score of .988, this region of the city easily beat out Norway, the world leader, in terms of such factors as literacy, life span, and health care. O Globo ecstatically reported:

This one is worth commemorating by singing “The Girl from Ipanema”
and forgetting those problems typical of day-to-day life in the Zona Sul,
like traffic jams, beggars, and informal car attendants. A still-incomplete
study by the city government that will help with planning strategies for local
development shows that if the region formed by Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa,
Jardim Botânico, Gávea, São Conrado, and Vidigal were an independent
country, it would have the highest Human Development Index on the
planet.1

Leaving aside the methodological problems of cherry-picking the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city (an area whose riches derive in part from the exploitation of poor labor in other parts of the city) and then comparing these neighborhoods to whole countries, this article engaged in the traditional upper-class Carioca (Rio residents) sport of aspiring to be European while literally “forgetting” and unsuccessfully trying to remove from the picture the large swaths of urban poverty that form part of the city’s daily life.

For well over a century, Rio’s civic leaders have worked to make and remake Rio into a city worthy of Europe while in many ways denying the intricate connections between wealthy and impoverished areas that give the city so much of its character. They have accomplished some of this through ambitious architectural projects at the beginning of the twentieth century that brought stunning Parisian building styles to this steamy tropical city.2 In other epochs, government and religious

-18-

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Drugs & Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: Trafficking, Social Networks, & Public Security
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface - Departure ix
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Introduction - Thinking about Social Violence in Brazil 1
  • One - Setting the Scene- Continuities and Discontinuities in a "Divided City" 18
  • Two - Network Approach to Criminal Politics 39
  • Three - Tubarão 61
  • Four - Santa Ana 97
  • Five - Vigário Geral 130
  • Six - Comparative Analysis of Criminal Networks in Brazil and Latin America 169
  • Seven - Theorizing the Politics of Social Violence 189
  • Epilogue - Rio 2005 207
  • Notes 217
  • Bibliography 241
  • Index 269
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