Monday, August 27, 2012

Crime rate down in Sao Paulo

Violent crime is down in Sao Paulo, 13% lower than last year

This is great news, principally because we are thinking of moving back home to Sao Paulo and after living in the US for 15 years we are as scared of news regarding crime as your typical/garden variety American expat. :)
We had heard and read a few articles here and there about more crime in Sao Paulo and that freaked us to no end, even our BFF and fellow blogger Alex has writen us before asking about certain articles he was reading around about the increase in crime in Sao Paulo and we all searched about it together, called people and searched a little more.
I happen to have a very close family member who is a Police Chief in Sao Paulo and this person has kept me very well informed about what is going on with the news of crime being up and then being down.
First and foremost I read this article today HERE, that goes on to say that murder rates are down in Sao Paulo by 13% compared to the same time period last year. Which is great news.
Before you go lighting up fireworks to celebrate, let me share the insider's information on the situation.
What happened in Brazil recently is a shift in the balance of power among criminal organizations, they are loosing space and shifting Geography, they are going into new areas and trying to find their niche.
With the approaching "Soccer World Cup" in 2014 and the Rio "Olympics" in 2016, the state of Rio de Janeiro needed to help locate phisical space to built some of the venues where the Rio Olympics will take place, and some of the Soccer events for the World Cup.
If you are familiar with Rio de Janeiro, there isn't much space to go around, the Geography of the region is very peculiar, which in my opinion makes Rio on of the most spetaculars places on earth, principally where natural beauty is concerned, the beaches, lucious green mountains, giant bolders, water falls, lakes, just out of the world beautiful.
Space is limited, the city is squeezed between Ocean and Mountains on a thin strip of land.
The city has to find space, which is already mostly occupied by urban development. The only alternative for the government of Rio is to claim back some of it's stolen government land to built the new venues.
If you are from Brazil, you most likely HATE favelas, you are not proud of them, you don't think they are cute, you don't think they are decent and you don't think it's a matter of human rights to keep this people in favelas, there is no way we should improve life in the favelas.
We should move them to safe areas, period. If you think otherwise, you are most likely not familiar with the situation.
The obvious traditional defenders of the favelas "status quo", are religious leaders, who want to be popular and gather more pupils to their churches, opportunistic politicians who want the obvious extra vote in their districts, foreign human rights watch groups, who in my opinion don't really understand the situation and other groups that have various random reasons to think favela living is worth preserving.
First of all, Rio favelas are built on dangerous cliffs that are suceptable to mud slides, not to mention fires with no access to Fire Department services in case of emergencies.
Favelas dwellers cut down natural vegetation that holds the "MOUNTAIN" together, and build flimsy little wooden shacks on top of it, and eventually build some fragile concrete and block walls, without proper foundation and nothing with the supervision of an civil engineer or any infra structure to hold the building/house firmly on that cliff.

Police moves into Rio Favelas, thugs run away to other Brazilian cities

Long story short, in my opinion, no human being belong in favelas, these people deserve a decent, safe place to live, with sewer services, police, ambulances and fire department access, a place well built and firm ground and proper public transportation.
They deserve a place with legal electrical, water and internet/telephone connections that won't just burst into flames because they steal electricity and clump up 300 connections in one and cause explosions, fire and death.
And ultimately, with the end of FAVELAS in Brazil, crime will have a much harder time to find "hiding" places and easier to control.
I have no doubt in my mind we will see that in our lifetime.
So, back to our main topic of discussion here, crime in Sao Paulo is up and then crime in Sao Paulo is down and there is a good reason for that.
I will tie it all together with my previous favela rant in Rio and the removal of some Rio favelas along with the "pacification of some of Rio favelas", bare with me.
See, when government started bulldozing some favelas down to the ground in Rio, and claiming their land back, they also started to bring in highly organized and powerful police forces into the remaining favelas, with the goal in mind to make the entire city safer for the upcoming sports events.
Police goes in, organized crime comes out and where did they go?
If you answered "other" cities, you got it.
Organized drug crime moved to other large Brazilian cities, wherever they could hide and continue to do business.
By the way, in my opinion, if you smoke pot and think it's an inocent thing to do, you are a direct part of the crime problem, come on, where do you think that pot comes from? Not from Lojas Americanas or Pao de Acucar, that is for sure.
I am not anti pot, if you can/could get it from a legal source, and if you like/enjoy/need it, good for you, but please either get it from a legal source or stay the hell away from it.

Rio favelas remain occupied by Police and the Brazilian Army and see an instant reduction in crime

They moved to Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Salvador, you name it, and upon their arrival, gang wars errupted, increasing the crime rate in Sao Paulo for example.
Sao Paulo was caught off guard, until they noticed increase in murder rates in the outskirts of the metropolitan region.
Sao Paulo, different than Rio, has a lot of space, we are not limited and surrounded by mountains like Rio, so our favelas and poor areas where most of the crime takes place is far away from the Sao Paulo I grew up and know as my home town.
There has been a fight for power over the drug business between the newcomers, who are "just kicked from Rio criminals" and the long established Sao Paulo crime gangs.
It took the state of Sao Paulo and it's police force a little while to catch up with what was happening and built a strategy to tackle the new challenge and we are now finally seeing the results of their efficient and hard work.

Principles of crime reduction, Sao Paulo Police is using efficient methods to fight crime

Violent crime is down again and continue on it's lowering trend that started back in 1998, about the same time Gil and I left Brazil, when crime had reached it's peak in Sao Paulo.
I am glad to see that the reduction of crime rates in Sao Paulo continues on a down spiral trend, not that it ever bothered me too much, because truth be told, in Sao Paulo crime happens far away from the parts of the city my family and I always lived, so it realistically doesn't affect me or my family directly, but less crime is always good news and always good for the overall image of the city.



Renato S. Alves said...

The other day I read something very interesting. I can't remember where, it said that upper class people in Brazil has better quality of life than the average American. And I think this is true. As a math tutor in Sao Paulo, I had students who had a wonderful life. Them and their families. Their neighborhoods were safe (although they had bullet proof cars and lived in secured places) and they didn't seem to care about violence.
But, one thing got me very worried last month when I read that criminals were doing "arrastão" on restaurants all over the city, even in Jardins and Moema. Have you heard this?
I am very glad the crime is going down, because my family lives there.
"But" with all respect (hehehe) I have to say that I believe that criminals and police in Rio will come to an agreement to have the city safe for the events.

P.s By the way, this words check box is a pain in the ass. This is my 4th time and it doesn't go!!! :)

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...


I also agree that if you are rich, you have a better life in Brazil than in the US, however, that is always relative to where in the US and where in Brazil you choose to live.
Regarding crime in Brazil, I just wish we had capital punishment for these thugs and make them think twice before commiting crime.


Born Again Brazilian said...

Come back...

All I know is that in my neighborhood, Jardim Paulista, things have gotten scary in the past year. I have a female friend who got punched in the face on the street! But it's hard to analyze statistics when there are multiple sources reporting various views. All I know is that we are moving to Higienopolis, hopefully on Rua Bahia where one of the Safra clan lives, and will take advantage of the extra security of the area. HA!

American Heart Brazilian Soul said...


I love Rua Bahia, it's a great street. I have a friend from childhood that lived in that street.
You, regarding crime going down, my brother's sister in law is a police chief in Sao Paulo and she says it really has gotten better. However in a big city like Sao Paulo, our perceptions might get distorted with localized events.
Sometimes there is a certain crook or gang practicing crime in one targeted area, so it gives us the perception that crime is up, but its usually in a localized area.
I am just glad with the news of less crime. :)


Renato S. Alves said...

Hey Ray
Check this out!
Thought you would like to see