Urban Violence and Police Privatization in Brazil: Blended Invisibility

By Huggins, Martha K. | Social Justice, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Urban Violence and Police Privatization in Brazil: Blended Invisibility


Huggins, Martha K., Social Justice


Martha K. Huggins [1]

AT THE TURN OF THE SECOND MILLENNIUM, VISIBLE STATE-SPONSORED ATROCITIES in Brazil may seem to be only a pale reflection of the ethnic and political cleansing and other large-scale, often genocidal, violence in places such as Guatemala, East Timor, Rwanda, the Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Chechnya. The extent and scope of violence in these countries -- with its raw brutality, military context, and state and overt paramilitary state-sponsored murder and mistreatment of civilians -- make contemporary peacetime violence in Brazil, or even during its 21-year military dictatorship (1964 to 1985), appear to be much less noteworthy and significant. Yet, that assumption suggests the questionable moral thesis that smaller numbers or a lower percentage of victims out of the total Brazilian population reduce the significance of this and similar situations of state-permitted or encouraged violence. Whether defensible or not, the validity of such a proposition cannot be considered without examining the extent and nature of violence in Brazil, where interpersonal violence is prevalent and dramati c, although disguised because it is ethnically and class selective as well as geographically focused.

To indicate the extent of violence in Brazil, in Sao Paulo alone (the largest city in South America), between 1984 and 1996 there were 69,700 homicides -- over 10,000 more deaths than known U.S. casualties during the entire Vietnam War. Between 1979 and 1997, the homicide rate in Brazil increased from 11.5 murders per one hundred thousand population to 25.4. This 18-year period spans the six years before the military left power through the 12 years after formal democratic government had returned. Between 1979 and 1997, Brazil's population increased 65%, but its homicide rate went up 120% (Folha, 1999b: 3-1). In contrast to Brazil's 1997 homicide rate of 25.4, the corresponding U.S. homicide rate was 10.1 per 100,000 population (Internet: www.IABD.org), which then steeply declined in 1998 to 6.3 (Internet: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs.homicide/hmrt.htm). By the 1990s, Brazil's homicide rate approached that of countries recently riven by militarized internal conflict. In the 1990s, Brazil had the fifth highest murder rate in the world, following Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, and Jamaica (Buvinic et al., 1999), with the latter also a country under nonmilitary but militarized social control.

Selective Violence

Although Brazil's countrywide homicide rate [2] is already high by most international comparisons, the homicide rates in some of its districts and for some population sectors are equal to or even higher than Latin American countries still involved in internal guerrilla and military conflict. For example, Colombia -- formally democratic, yet in a militarized drug and guerrilla war with large regions of the country under military, paramilitary, or guerrilla control -- had a homicide rate in the early 1990s of 89.5 murders per 100,000 population (ibid.), clearly higher than Brazil's 1997 countrywide rate of 25.4 (NEV, 2000). Yet the overall homicide rate was lower than the 1998 rates for Sao Paulo City's Diadema district (140), where the auto industry has been downsizing amid slums and poverty, and the city's poor Embu district (97.32) (Folha, 1999b: 3-3). Colombia's rate was also lower than the cities of Recife (105) in Brazil's impoverished northeast, and Vitoria (103), in Espirito Santo state east of Rio (NE V, 2000). Indeed, Diadema's homicide rate is closer today to Guatemala's and El Salvador's national murder rates (150) in the late 1980s (Buvinic et al., 1999), when those countries were experiencing intense internal guerrilla and counterinsurgency conflict.

Brazil's pattern of urban violence is clearly most dramatic for selected regions and segments of the population. In 1997, the country's two largest cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, ranked third and fourth after Recife and Vitoria, with 65. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Urban Violence and Police Privatization in Brazil: Blended Invisibility
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.