Small Wars Journal

Criminal Insurgency in Brazil

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 6:14am

Criminal Insurgency in Brazil

The Case of Rio de Janeiro: Context, Confrontation Issues and Implications for Brazilian Public Security

Christian Vianna de Azevedo


The rise of the modern state is considered a milestone in the history of civilization. Nevertheless, along the course of its consolidation its integrity and existence were threatened in various ways. Insurgencies were one of the threats to the state’s internal order, and possibly its greatest one.[1] Along the 19th and 20th centuries a number of insurgencies emerged. Almost all of them related to the dispute of colonial powers and independence. The decades following the Second World War have witnessed a series independence wars in the form of insurgencies erupting in different continents. In all these cases these insurgent movements had the political element as a central issue in their context.[2] “Traditional insurgencies”[3] is how these eminently political movements are generally denominated. From that time onwards, other types of insurgency surfaced. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, insurgencies motivated by the Islamism ideology got traction. Shortly afterwards they have spread across other parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa.[4] Alongside these events, transnational organized crime grew and eventually became a powerful non-state actor.[5] A new type of insurgency is then born, the one moved by economic gains.

From the end of the nineties, globalization has brought along a series of large-scale transformations in human relations, and thus in power relations.[6] The insurgency phenomena has also mutated and adjusted to the new era along the side of non-political elements derived from criminality or religion.[7] Even though the political element is not an essential part of this type of insurgency, it eventually appears once the existing countries’ governments are challenged, their authority seized, their territories taken. Consequently, illegal parallel governance emerges, and a new social order is promoted by the insurgents.[8]

This paper attempts to demonstrate that some areas within Rio de Janeiro are dominated by what is characterized as ‘criminal insurgency’. As such, Brazilian government should engage it with a comprehensive and multidimensional approach, now that in some specific areas the armed insurgency holds territory and exerts parallel governance for more than three decades. This paper also aims to outline a few options in which public security institutions and military forces could enhance their partnership to better address this threat.

Description of the Threat: The Criminal Insurgency and its Context in Rio de Janeiro

The dilemma of the non-state armed groups and its exercise of governance is something that has been continually arising attention of the public authorities and scholars.[9] The territorial governance and the authority exercised by the criminal organizations[10] are part of a context that was eventually labeled criminal insurgency. They lack ideological motivations for political opposition and, furthermore, they do not pursue the overthrow of the existing state leaders. Despite that, their engagement in illegal activities, control of the population and territories and its violent resistance towards the state turns them into a distinct type of criminals.[11]

The criminal insurgency contends for an economic control of a given territory. Its political dimension is the use of violence to pursue it. These territories are then used as sanctuaries and serve as a base from which to manage criminal activities. The emergence of the criminal insurgency in these territories follows a vacuum created by the failure of state governance.[12] Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and other Latin American countries suffer with this kind of insurgency. Latin America is submerged in a wide context of transnational drug trafficking and therefore has endured an unseen level of violence.[13] In the Brazilian case, the criminal insurgency in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas stands out.

Brazil as well as Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador is not rated as a “failed state” and its governance cannot be even considered a failure. However, in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, the state has failed to satisfactorily provide collective goods, public security, health, education, basic sanitation, and thus governmental legitimacy. In short, it has failed to provide public services that are a state’s role latu sensu.[14] The concept of parallel governance is apt to describe the current situation in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Failed governance is followed by a vacuum of power that is soon taken over by predatory groups. Drug trafficking is their main business. As a consequence, drug cartels become criminal insurgents. They take over geographical areas in which the state has no functional authority. These “pockets” of un-governance and impunity are exploited by the insurgents who attempt to legitimate themselves with the populace by offering them collective goods. They also achieve the population’s acquiescence by means of coercion, intimidation and violence. Once they have both territorial and community control they will have enough cover to carry on with their criminal endeavors.[15] Thus, what had begun as a drug trafficking business becomes a criminal insurgency with its own political agenda.

I could say, by analogy, that these territories are like “failed states” within a functional country, where the insurgents devise their own laws and regulations and rule the area as a ‘parallel governance’. Criminal insurgents are capable of maintaining territorial integrity by corrupting government employees and also fighting police and armed forces with fierce brutality.

The primary objective of a criminal insurgency is not a regime change, but rather the safeguarding of its financial gains.[16] Apart from the routine use of violence, many of the existing criminal organizations aim to infiltrate and weaken the public authority, by means of corruption, blackmail or coercion of its agents, in order to prevent them from combating their illegal business.[17]

As long as the state fails to deliver effective public security, the populace becomes vulnerable to the criminal’s violent behavior and therefore falls prey to them and it is pressed to tolerate their presence and even to collaborate with them. Overtime, in many cases, the populace ends up feeling protected by the same criminal organizations they have fallen prey to in the first place.

The criminal insurgencies within the favelas in Rio de Janeiro even have ‘tribunals’ where they ‘judge’ varied types of crimes. Generally, they are very efficient in preventing petty crime within the favelas they rule. In these places the criminals are important players in the local economy. Their criminal activities bring about new jobs and illegal investments in these communities. They also strengthen their position and their rule by promoting social activities, festivals and entertainment in order to lure the youth into their ranks, as they need a constant inflow of recruits to enhance their businesses. By providing security, jobs, and community involvement they make possible their parallel governance.[18] The focal point of an insurgency is the support of the population. In a favela, the ones who rule are the ones that control the population, either by means of persuasion and “hearts and minds” or coercion. That is precisely what happens in favelas like Complexo do Alemão and Complexo da Maré, and also in most part of Brazilian favelas.

Transnational drug trafficking routes throughout Latin America abound. Favelas in Rio de Janeiro are constantly supplied by drugs, especially cocaine, that comes from neighboring countries. At the same time, weapons smuggling is ripe in our continent, mainly due to our porous land borders and also our fragile maritime/port controls. There is a constant flow of weapons of all sorts towards Rio’s favelas.[19]

In the 1980s Colombian cocaine began to be poured in ever-growing quantities in Rio de Janeiro. Back then, favela’s drug lords structured their business with their Colombian, and later Bolivian and Peruvian counterparts through middlemen that operated near Brazilian international land borders. Once the local drug lords were becoming rich and powerful at the end of the 1980s and along the 1990s they improved the effectiveness of their business by eliminating the middlemen. Thus, they began to negotiate drug shipments directly with the cartels’ bosses in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. At the same time, cocaine business was growing quickly and they were urged to perfect their operations, especially their supply chain, in order to meet the demand of an avid market that was consolidating in Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere. The constant contact with their foreign counterparts allowed them to have an easier access to high caliber weapons, which they needed to fight their contenders and the police forces. Parallel to all these transformations, a strong money-laundering scheme was being developed. The current criminal organizations that dominate the drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro operate a myriad of illegal businesses and front companies manned by high-qualified staff.

Current Strategies to Address the Threat: Brazilian Government Versus the Criminal Insurgency

The Brazilian state has tried to solve the question by addressing its basic issue, which is to protect the populace by giving them security and reducing the violence within the favelas, given the fact that this is the matrix of the problem. Therefore, the government has been trying to persuade the population that state presence is the best alternative for them. Nevertheless, the population’s persuasion has not come easy, since these large favelas have been under the control of the criminal insurgency for more than three decades. Additionally, the people that live in the favelas do not trust the government’s will to once and for all get rid of the drug traffickers tyranny that dominate them. They see the state authorities as corrupt, inefficient and little interested in actually solving the violence problem.

Since the eighties the public security policy in Brazil has been going through some changes. In the past, Brazilian police forces were utterly violent and had only a repressive approach towards the poor people that live in the favelas. That fact alone has boosted the overall violence. Nevertheless, in 2008, Rio de Janeiro state government has initiated an innovative program: the pacification strategy in the favelas, which was named UPP (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora - Police Pacification Unit). This strategy includes partnerships among federal, state and municipal governments and agencies, together with NGO’s and civil society in order to retake permanently the favelas from the drug traffickers’ hands, and bring full public services to those places.

This program’s innovation lies in the fact that for the first time in the history of the Brazilian public security, Rio de Janeiro’s police forces would initiate a sharp shift in their course. They would not only do what they were used to, quick kinetic actions, in which they enter the favela and once the mission is over they retreat as fast as possible.[20] Under this innovative program there is a four step strategy, which is: first, the police SOF (police special operations forces) raid the favela, arrest the drug traffickers and seize their weapons; second, these same SOF stay in the area for few or several more weeks targeting the remaining criminals and eliminating the residual pockets of armed resistance; third, at this stage SOF transfer the area control to the UPP that, for its turn, begins to enforce the laws and approach the population to map their needs and devise partnerships; and, at last, it comes the fourth phase, the longest one, which is to bring the favela to a normal city life, delivering the necessary collective goods, and slowly working to regain the populace’s trust in the government. The main objective is to reduce the violence by establishing a functional government in the area. Nowadays the UPP system operates in dozens of Rio de Janeiro favelas, but none of them has reached phase four, due to budget cuts and lack of government will.[21] The multilateral arrangement within the UPP strategy seeks to permanently yield the population to the government’s side. For this reason the pacification process demands a whole of government approach (in its fourth phase) to successfully achieve the delivery of collective goods, infrastructure, social projects, sports, cultural events, and private investments to a population who has largely never experienced such.[22]

There are some experts who assert that Brazilian authorities have been partially adopting in its favela’s pacification strategy the policies devised by the US Military in its counterinsurgency campaigns conducted in both Iraq and Afghanistan.[23] These sources suggest that the success in the Brazilian adapted counterinsurgency model would come from a long term commitment in concert with an effective and accurate coordination among municipal, state and federal institutions involved, grounded in the population’s perception of a growing state legitimacy.[24] Nevertheless, good results are not to be expected overnight, as the lessons learned from the US Military counterinsurgency campaigns demonstrated. In fact, the integrated actions introduced within the UPP program are, in some ways, quite similar to the counterinsurgency approach devised by the US Military in its manual FM 3-24/2014.[25] However, there is a clear difference between them; FM 3-24/2014 is framed and designed for operations overseas in which the counterinsurgency forces deal with a foreign enemy in a foreign land. In the case of Brazilian favelas, police forces deal with local criminals in a domestic environment. Even so, both share a number of concepts: long term policy strategy, Civil/Military/Police combined effort, partnership with the local government,[26] engagement of the local leadership in the pacification process, development of strong, legitimate and reliable local security forces, implementation of a broaden policy targeting the suppression of the insurgents’ sanctuaries in neighboring locations,[27] and, at last, the Federal and State government bodies must enforce compliance from the Municipality in what lies within its legal competency, in a way that the municipal authorities identify and eliminate the very causes that first led to the criminal insurgency emergence (FM 3-24/2014).

However, even though the UPP program is well conceived and structured in theory, many of the UPP are currently facing crisis. Some of them are understaffed, others lack enough physical structure or logistical support, and others were simply badly planned and executed. In many cases they are just not adequate for the favelas in which they were built and structured. For they were conceived in ”one size fits all” logic, and that is a huge mistake, since each favela is different from one another in terms of crime penetration, criminal insurgence virulence, social tissue, and physical geography.

Two zones are strategic for narco trafficking control within Rio de Janeiro: the Complexo da Maré, which for more than a year, till mid 2015 it was occupied by the Brazilian Army, in a phase that precedes the implementation of its UPP. The other one is the Complexo do Alemão, which was also previously occupied by the Army for more than a year, and currently is home to four UPP.[28] Both are a set of several favelas, conglomerates that take up extensive territory and have a huge population. The two also endure the presence of criminal insurgencies for more than three decades. In these complexes[29] rival narco trafficking organizations vie for the territorial control and the drug business dominance. These criminal organizations’ tentacles have a far reach within the city. That fact enables them to have sanctuaries in other favelas where they often retreat to when it is convenient to them.

Nowadays, police forces can barely conduct a safe patrol mission in Complexo do Alemão. Besides, some areas within the complex are just off limits for the conventional police forces; only police SOF can manage to get there. In spite of the existence of the UPP, the drug traffickers were able to strengthen their power after the Army withdrew its 1.300 troops. Now, organized crime thrives again. Regarding Complexo da Maré, it is still lagging behind in terms of the UPP program due to state budget crisis. The organized crime is flourishing there. Even when the Army intervened and occupied the favela for more than a year the violence and crime have not lowered. Drug trafficking is rampant and the organized crime is well entrenched.

The main source of instability in these two complexes of favelas lies in the constant inflow of weapons and drugs. Firearms and drugs feed the criminal insurgency. The drugs give them high profits; and the weapons allow them to fight the security forces, as well as terrorize the population and coerce them to jump to their side.[30] Rio de Janeiro’s police forces routinely seize assault rifles, RPG and light weapons. The weapons are introduced in the country through the Bolivian, Paraguayan, Colombian or Venezuelan extensive land borders with Brazil, or by air, since the arms dealers use the combination of small aircrafts and clandestine airstrips. The weapons frequently seized by the police along the international land borders mostly have an Eastern European origin. Besides, they are regularly sold in ordinary gun stores in Paraguay. When the arms dealers introduce them into Brazil, they do not even try to conceal the weapons origins by erasing their reference number or altering their characteristics, they simply purchase them in Paraguay, for example, or through an overseas supplier and cross the borders onto Brazil with them.[31]

Cocaine is the main type of drug trafficked in the favelas. It comes from Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. They enter Brazil through its land borders, or via air shipment (small airplanes/clandestine airstrips binomial).

From the entry points, the drugs are separated in small amounts. They are further shipped by land all the way to Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and also to other parts of the country. The criminal insurgency has a diversified sort of connections in the neighboring countries, including corrupted police officers, insurgents, guerrilla, drug traffickers, arms traffickers and the like. They also have branches overseas, e.g. in North America and Europe where some of the weapon suppliers are located. The abundant network of suppliers enables them to boost their logistics capability, both in and out of Brazil. These resources – weapons-drugs - are paramount for the insurgency’s survival and power keeping, serving as source of both financing and coercion.

Recommended Future Approaches to Engage the Threat

It is imperative that both police and the armed forces are able to strangle and asphyxiate, as far as possible, the domestic and international shipment routes of drugs and weapons that feed the criminal insurgency in Rio de Janeiro. As a result, the criminals will lack the necessary resources to continue their endeavors as their logistics will be crippled and their operations will be ruined. Consequently they will most likely begin infighting for the scarce resources and the insurgency will slowly destabilize and expose its fractures. Then, the work of local law enforcement agencies might be more effective. The job of strangling the drugs/arms routes depends of consistent action and a greater coordination and cooperation among the police and the armed forces. After all, both the Federal Police and the armed forces are legally responsible, within Brazil, for border security. There is an urgent need to redesign our domestic cooperation architecture in the field of public security.

In Rio de Janeiro, the cooperation among police forces and the military happens only in specific cases, therefore sporadic. Albeit quite efficient sometimes, cooperation in the realm of public security within Brazil is never longstanding, as it must be. Besides, we also need more of a cross-cultural understanding between police and military organizations. We know that these institutions have different organizational cultures and different views of the same threat. Thus, institutions should foster more professional exchange. Once they undertake inter-institutional operations, they could embed their operatives in one another, toward the development of a better understanding and smoother relations among institutions. Consequently, they will be able to really “speak the same language” and enhance their cooperation capabilities in the long run. The result would be a faster exchange of information due to less bureaucratic constraints along the chain of command, as well as a more efficient intelligence collection, analysis and information flow.

A stronger international cooperation should also be fostered, towards a more constant interagency partnership. The current international cooperation does not follow a standard pattern, because it basically depends on proactive behavior of individuals, rather than institutions. Likewise, there is an urge to empower and to structure Brazilian police forces responsible for border controls and crime investigation, mainly along Paraguayan, Bolivian, Peruvian, Colombian and Venezuelan borders. Consequently, police and military forces will be able to cripple the criminal insurgency’s logistics and dynamics, meanwhile reducing the inflow of weapons and drugs. Once the security forces become more capable, their overall knowledge on the criminal insurgency in Rio de Janeiro will be greatly magnified allowing results that are more accurate.

However, despite the importance of preventing the insurgency from getting weapons and drugs from transnational suppliers, that alone is not enough to extinguish the criminal insurgency in Rio de Janeiro. It is absolutely necessary a further development in the UPP program. A multidimensional approach is imperative. In this scenario, government agencies, NGO and civil society have to combine forces to assure that the effort of protecting the population has come to stay permanently.

There is something that has to be clearly understood: the criminal insurgency in Rio de Janeiro cannot be efficiently countered only by usual law enforcement techniques and approaches. Local history can fully endorse that assertion. That is primarily the reason for which the UPP program has been created. However, public authorities probably still did not fully recognize what the UPP program can accomplish, considering that its most crucial phase (the very last one) has not yet been implemented.

In such geographical areas in which criminal parallel governance thrives for decades, the pacification efforts are long term commitments that will likely last for more than a generation and will span many different governments. After all, transnational criminality has morphed and changed its identity, and the menace posed by criminal insurgency has grown stronger. Society demands therefore a competent response from public authorities.

End Notes

[1] John Nagl, Counterinsurgency lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. How to eat soup with a knife (Westport/CT: Praeger Publishers, 2002). See also: David Kilcullen, The accidental guerrilla. Fighting small wars in the midst of a big one (New York/NY: Oxford University Press, 2009); Ambreen Javed, “Resistance and its progression to insurgency”, Strategic Studies 30 (2010): 1-2.

[2] John Nagl, op. cit. See also: David Kilcullen, op. cit.; Max Boot, “The evolution of irregular war. Insurgents and guerrilla from Akadia to Afghanistan”, Foreign Affairs 92.2 (2013): 100-114.

[3] I will not debate or discuss the definitions of insurgency because it is not the focus of this paper.

[4] Ian Beckett, Modern insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. Guerrillas and their opponents since 1750 (London/UK: Routledge, 2001). See also: Max Boot, op. cit.; Steven Metz, “Rethinking Counterinsurgency” in Isabelle Duyvestein and Paul Rich (editors), The Routledge handbook of insurgency and counterinsurgency (New York/NY: Routledge, 2014).

[5] Celina Realuyo, “Collaborating to Combat Illicit Networks Through Interagency and International Efforts”, in Convergence. Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization, chapter 14 (Washington: NDU Press, 2013).

[6] Celina Realuyo, op. cit.

[7] Steven Metz, op. cit.; Steven Metz, “Rethinking Insurgency”, Strategic Studies Institute, 2007. See also: John P. Sullivan, “Criminal Insurgency in the Americas”, Small Wars Journal, 2010; John P. Sullivan, “How Illicit Networks Impact Sovereignty”, in Convergence. Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization, chapter 10 (Washington/DC: NDU Press, 2013); Robert Bunker, “Changing forms of insurgency. Pirates, narcogangs, failed states” in Isabelle Duyvestein and Paul Rich (editors), op. cit.; Juan Ricardo Gomez-Hecht, “Las pandillas en El Salvador. ¿Un nuevo tipo de insurgencia?” Colegio de Altos Estudios Estratégicos, El Salvador, 2016.

[8] John P. Sullivan, 2013; Juan Ricardo Gomez-Hecht, op. cit.

[9] Celina Realuyo, op. cit.; Phil Williams, “Lawlessness and disorder: an emerging paradigm for the 21st century”, in Convergence. Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization, chapter 2 (Washington/DC: NDU Press, 2013); Juan Ricardo Gomez-Hecht, op. cit.

[10] The Brazilian legislation (Law 12.850/2013) considers to be a criminal organization the association of four or more people, structured and organized with division of tasks, even if informal, that aims to benefit itself through the practice of crimes and illegal activities that may or may not have a transnational character (Brasil, Lei 12.850, 2 aug. 2013).

[11] John P. Sullivan, op. cit.; Robert Bunker, op. cit.; Juan Ricardo Gomez-Hecht, op. cit.

[12] Klaus Schlichte, “State formation and the economy of intra-state wars”, in Dietrich Jung (editor), Shadow Globalization, Ethnic conflicts and new wars. A political economy of intra state war (London-New York, 2003), 27-44. See also: John P. Sullivan, op. cit.; Robert Bunker, op. cit.; Juan Ricardo Gomez-Hecht, op. cit.

[13] The criminal violence in Latin America has conquered a sad podium in the world ranking. Of the 50 most violent cities in the world, 43 are in Latin America. In: Christopher Woody, “The 50 most violent cities in the world”, Business Insider. Military and Defense, April, 8th 2017. See also: Mariano Bartolomé, “Beyond the organized Crime: the reformulation of the insurgency concept and its impact on South America’s strategic surroundings”, Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy and international relations 2.3 (2013); Celina Realuyo, op. cit.

[14] Jennifer Milliken and Keith Krause, State Failure, State collapse and reconstruction: concepts, lessons, strategies (Malden: Blackwell. 2003). See also: Charles Call, “Beyond the failed state: toward conceptual alternatives”, European Journal of International Relations 17.2 (2011): 303-326; John P. Sullivan, op. cit.; Mariano Bartolomé, op. cit.; Phil Williams, op. cit.; Robert Bunker, op. cit.

[15] Ulrich Schneckener, “Fragile state hood. Armed non-state actors and security governance”, in Alan Bryden and Marina Caparini (editors), Private Actors and Security Governance (Zurich/Switzerland: Lit Verlag GMBH, 2006). See also: Robert Bunker, op. cit.; Juan Ricardo Gomez-Hecht, op. cit.

[16] Ulrich Schneckener, op. cit.; John P. Sullivan, 2013; Robert Bunker, op. cit.; Juan Ricardo Gomez-Hecht, op. cit.

[17] John P. Sullivan, 2013; Robert Bunker, op. cit.; Juan Ricardo Gomez-Hecht, op. cit.

[18] Enrique Arias and Corinne Rodrigues, “The myth of personal security: Criminal gangs, dispute resolution, and identity in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas”, Latin American Politics and Society 48.4 (2006). See also: Janice Perlman, Favela. Four decades living on the edge in Rio de Janeiro (New York/NY: Oxford University Press, 2010); Ignacio Cano et al., “Os donos do morro: uma avaliação exploratória sobre o impacto das Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora-UPP no Rio de Janeiro”, Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública (2012).

[19] DPF (Polícia Federal), “PF incinera drogas em Campo Grande/MS”, ANPF (2012); DPF (Polícia Federal), “Op. Bed Bugs combate tráfico de armas em três Estados”, ANPF (2013); DPF (Polícia Federal), “PF apreende quase duas toneladas de drogas em Manaus”, ANPF (2014); DPF (Polícia Federal), “PF apreende 310 quilos de cocaína em Tabatinga/AM”, ANPF, 2016.

[20] Cláudio Beato and Luís Felipe Zilli. “A estruturação das atividades criminosas: um estudo de caso”, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais 27.80 (2012). See also: Ignacio Cano et al., op. cit.

[21] Cláudio Beato and Luís Felipe Zilli, op. cit.; Ignacio Cano et al., op. cit. See also: UPP (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora), Governo do Rio de Janeiro (2016).

[22] UPP, op. cit.

[23] Eduardo Teixeira, “A pacificação das favelas do Rio de Janeiro. Contrainsurgência preventiva?”, Alterinfos América Latina (2011); Tatiana Farah and Cristina Azevedo, “Wikileaks: EUA comparam táticas de contrainsurgência usadas no Afeganistão às UPPs”, O Globo. 04/11/2011; Ricardo Bonalume Neto, “O blindado e o mimeógrafo. A proliferação da luta contra insurgências”, Folha de São Paulo, 18/12/2011; Chris Arsenault, “Counter insurgency improves Brazil’s slums”, Al Jazeera (2012); Raphael Gomide, “Ação do BOPE nas favelas é tendência de forças especiais dos EUA no Iraque”, Último Segundo, 08/05/2012.

[24] Tatiana Farah and Cristina Azevedo, op. cit.; Raphael Gomide, op. cit.; Ricardo Bonalume Neto, op. cit.

[25] US Army/Marines Insurgency and Countering Insurgencies Field Manual (FM 3-24/ 2014). FM 3-24/MCWP3-33.5. See: Insurgencies and Countering Insurgencies Field Manual (Washington/DC. Headquarters. Department of the Army. 2014).

[26] In the case of Rio de Janeiro, both Federal and State authorities aim to empower the municipality (Rio de Janeiro) and its institutions and secretaries through the UPP program. Thus, the municipality will be able to lead the civil and security efforts to pacify the favelas and finally to reestablish a functional government under the rule of law.

[27] In our context, that means a comprehensive state response. There should be similar operations/programs in all the neighboring favelas within the city of Rio de Janeiro, in order to eliminate the sanctuaries the criminal insurgencies hold in neighboring communities/favelas that have alliances with them.

[28] UPP, op. cit.

[29] We use the word “complexes” (complexo) because they encompass several different favelas whose territory is contiguous and almost always they are controlled by the same insurgents.

[30] Some scholars assert that the binomial drug-weapon in the favelas is the dominant fact in territorial consolidation capability and also criminal activities subsistence. See: Cláudio Beato and Luís Felipe Zilli, op. cit.

[31] DPF, 2013.


About the Author(s)

Christian Vianna de Azevedo is a Federal Agent with the Brazilian Federal Police for the past 16 years. He is currently a PhD candidate in International Relations at the Pontifical Catholic University at Minas Gerais - PUC Minas, Brazil. His main research areas are: terrorism, counterterrorism, transnational organized crime, insurgency, counterinsurgency and asymmetrical conflicts. He is a research fellow in the field of counterterrorism at the Federal Police Academy/Brazil and also a research fellow in Middle East and North Africa with the International Relations Department at the Pontifical Catholic University - PUC Minas/ Brazil.