Having covered one of the most successful South American countries in tackling knife crime, Chile, I thought it prudent to investigate a country just 3000km away, Brazil.
The country is seen by many as one of the crime capitals of the world and when people look to why, most agree the reasons stem from the country’s violent path to industrialisation.
Brazil was a rural country until the 1950s. As industrialization created jobs in the cities, migration from rural areas to cities increased in great numbers. Between the government and influential urban elites, little was done to accommodate the huge numbers of incoming city dwellers, with even the rule of law not being effectively enforced within the migrant settlements around the cities, known as ‘periferias’.
Since there was no basic organization, the periferias grew without any order or regard for the preservation of natural resources around the cities. As the population in these periferias increased and there were no formal jobs, these communities became more dependent on illegal activities such as the illicit drug trade.
The relative power of crime organisations grew so much that the gangs began to infiltrate the police and even the government. To this day, it is not uncommon to read a report of an official being arrested for their links to crime.
Decades of lawlessness and neglect are not easily solvable. Whilst some politicians believe a harsher approach to law and order would help solve the problem, others are convinced that it is down to providing local communities more power over self-governing, taxation and public services. Whatever the correct approach is, it is clear that there are no easy answers.
Hinton, M. S. (2006). The state on the streets: Police and politics in Argentina and Brazil. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.
Against the Tide: Why It's So Hard to Stop the Violence in Brazil. (2017). From https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/homicidereduction-brazil-english