University of São Paulo: Despite the insecurity with crime, the population’s weapons do not please Brazilians


Faced with the presence of armed groups, 91% of Brazilians live with some presence of criminal factions in their neighborhoods, according to a survey by the Forum Brazil UK 2022 carried out by the platform of the same name. Violence and illegality reverberate in the perception of public security in everyday life, especially in matters of weapons, incarceration and the action of police forces. The research used a sample with a variable profile, according to the representative distribution of the Brazilian population.

Territorial control by groups of parallel power highlights the difficulty of access and little authority of public order in the neighborhoods, especially in the peripheries. “As soon as you have armed groups operating in these territories, you have places where the law is not guaranteed by the Constitution and the State, but by tyrants”, comments Bruno Paes Manso, journalist and researcher at the Center for the Study of Violence (NEV). ) from USP. It signals a contrast in the performance of groups in Rio de Janeiro, where they are “oppressive”, while in São Paulo, tyranny is characterized by being more effective and everyday.

Arming the population
The survey also reveals that 58% of people disagree that security would be greater with the use of weapons. Despite the insecurity with crime in urban areas, the arms of the population do not please Brazilians. “I think people want predictability, they want order, they want the ability to think about the future, they want institutions that work”, says Manso.

This predictability relates to the reality of Brazil in a simple way: “It is a wish that even if you earn little, and that you suffer, and that you work hours in a row, you will not be robbed at the bus stop at 5 am”, he says. The guarantee of public security through institutional policies has been hotly debated by populist representatives, however, government officials do not always ensure community harmony.

Crime infiltrating state institutions is also a matter of concern to people. In his view, the crimes “are organized by the police, who also get votes in these territories and elect many people (to public office)”. A portion of 68% of the survey respondents said they were afraid of suffering violence from the civil and military police, bodies responsible for protecting the population. Instead of defending society, the journalist alleges that the police become “protagonists of crime”.

In Rio de Janeiro, the militias emerged under the banner of self-defense against the expansion of drug trafficking to other territories. “They start to control the territory, claiming that they will prevent the arrival of drug trafficking, but, from there, they begin to earn money in other ways”, explains Manso, who exemplifies: “Extorting residents and traders, organizing monopolies for other crimes or products”. Even so, the execution and imprisonment of criminals are viewed favorably by those interviewed.

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