March 29, 2007

In Capital's Slums, Militias Fuel Urban Violence
— Ace

No, not Baghdad. Rio de Janiero. Which may not technically be Brazil's capital, but come on, who's zoomin' who?

A decorated police officer was sitting behind the wheel of his Toyota pickup truck here last month when a group of men surrounded the vehicle and pumped more than 40 bullets into him.

Such execution-style killings are not unusual in a city where police and gang members routinely battle for turf in the shantytowns, but this one sent ripples through Rio. The slain officer, Felix dos Santos Tostes, had been moonlighting as the leader of a militia unit -- one of the well-armed groups that have multiplied throughout the city's slums in recent months, complicating an urban conflict that has defied solution for decades.

The militias have wrested control of nearly 100 of this city's 600 slums, or favelas, from the drug gangs that have long held sway, according to police and nongovernmental organizations. Tostes's murder showed why the shift worries so many people here: Although the militias profess to make the neighborhoods safe, violence is following them. And the deep connections some of the groups maintain to police and political circles make monitoring and controlling them extraordinarily difficult.

Law enforcement and government officials have traditionally advocated a hard-line stance against the easily vilified drug gangs, but Rio's new governor, Sergio Cabral, is urging his colleagues to reject the notion that the militias are the lesser of two evils. He has compared the recent rise of the militias to the situation in Colombia, where the involvement of paramilitary fighters has further muddied that country's long-running battle against Marxist guerrillas. Cabral visited Bogota this week to discuss methods of controlling violence with his Colombian counterparts.

"The government says the militias should be investigated, but the situation is almost comical," said Rodrigo Pimentel, a former military police officer who is now a security consultant. "A lot of people inside the police intelligence units in charge of investigating them are involved with the militias themselves. That's why when the police give the government a list of suspected militia members that should have 700 names on it, there are only 40 or 50."

The militia groups controlling the various neighborhoods are not affiliated with one another. Some were started by residents of the favelas themselves, but many are led by off-duty or retired police officers, firemen and private security workers.

Interesting article. The government maintains its monopoly on the use of force only so long as the public perceives it as exercising that monopoly wisely and justly. When the government fails to do so -- as here, where straight law enforcement is ineffectual against drug gangs -- extralegal vigilantism inevitably ensues.

Via Pajamas Media.

Posted by: Ace at 08:15 AM | Comments (14)
Post contains 463 words, total size 3 kb.

1 I am sure this is all Bush's fault.

No Blood for Sugar Based Ethanol!



Posted by: Drew at March 29, 2007 08:20 AM (gNyUT)

2 Years ago, 60 Minutes did a similar story. They showed three burglars dragged out, beaten to unconciosnes or death, then set on fire. Obviously, one wasn't dead because he started flopping all over the place. It was sickening. I couldn't believe they showed it without a warning or received any complaints and aired them the  following shows.

Posted by: Red at March 29, 2007 08:21 AM (ffvtp)

3

Hmmm...lesser of two evils.  Belmont club has an interesting take on this, about government authority decaying and local people responding by creating gated communities very much like medieval villages, self supporting and with their own police/security force (militia). 


Key point:  You can tell to what extent a state is failing by noting the extent of these gated communities.  The Dark Ages redux?


Sobering thought.


As for the general problem of drug gangs, well, what's wrong with solving the problem Stalin style?  Antartica has plenty of room for prisons and we can hire Polar Bears to be be guards.


Posted by: BattleofthePyramids at March 29, 2007 08:27 AM (4ne0/)

4 No, not Baghdad?

You found a place that seems to be just as shitty as Baghdad.  I guess that means you're all off the hook now.  Congrats.  You can all breath easy.

Posted by: seattle slough at March 29, 2007 08:42 AM (H5l9d)

5

You found a place that seems to be just as shitty as Baghdad.  I guess that means you're all off the hook now.  Congrats.  You can all breath easy.


Except we are trying to make Baghdad a better place no thanks to people like you.  Now butt out and let real men take care of the problem.




Posted by: roc ingersol at March 29, 2007 08:47 AM (m2CN7)

6

As for the general problem of drug gangs, well, what's wrong with solving the problem Stalin style?  Antartica has plenty of room for prisons and we can hire Polar Bears to be be guards.


 


 


Surround the ghetto's or whatever you want to call them. Go through them refrigerator box to shipping crate, and shoot anyone who pulls a gun on you.  Cartheginian manuver, anyone?


Posted by: Dick Nixon at March 29, 2007 08:52 AM (/2xR+)

7 But Seattle, we are in Iraq enforcing the will of the world community under UN Security Council Resolution 1723, dated Nov 2006. You do believe in the United Nations, don't you?

Posted by: Cuffy Meigs at March 29, 2007 09:05 AM (JefgB)

8 Cuffy,

Brilliant!

Posted by: SOC at March 29, 2007 09:22 AM (1/F/d)

9

There are so many stupid assumptions in Sloughbag's post, probably the greatest stupidity being that Baghdad was some garden spot before Americans busted up the place so we should be responsible for it's condition being every bit as bad as a place we've never invaded.


I could go on and on, but I sure hope Sloughbag doesn't spend too much time wondering why many of us would like to kick him in the twat.


 


 


Posted by: spongeworthy at March 29, 2007 09:36 AM (uSomN)

10

For me, the salient phrase in that article is "600 slums."


 


Posted by: Rittenhouse at March 29, 2007 10:36 AM (go2A+)

11 For a minute there I thought you were writing about DC.  Then I read on and saw you were talking about people taking responsibility for their own safety, something that would never happen in a Democratic town.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at March 29, 2007 10:43 AM (NZ53m)

12

When the government fails to do so -- as here, where straight law enforcement is ineffectual against drug gangs -- extralegal vigilantism inevitably ensues.


This is my arguement against weak criminal sentences. Sentence the molester to 6 months probation and you are practically forcing the kids father to act.


Posted by: captkidney at March 29, 2007 11:20 AM (uQDzC)

13

Off my hobby horse and back on topic-


The veiw of police as just another gang is not as uncommon as one might think.


A friend of mine from South Korea used to tell me about his gang's battles with the cops.


Posted by: captkidney at March 29, 2007 11:23 AM (uQDzC)

14 Sloughbag used to come in here and at least try to have some kind of discussion.  Lately, though, he's turned into a garden-variety troll who shows up in a thread just to drop a turd in order to see how big a reaction he can get.


Posted by: OregonMuse at March 29, 2007 12:23 PM (CkYzD)

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