By associating the escalation of violence in Bahia with the increase in weapons in the state, the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Flávio Dino, misinforms about the real reasons that led this federation unit to record 46 deaths in clashes with the police in September. Experts consulted by People’s Gazette report that the war between criminal factions in the state is the main factor in the conflict and not the weapons policy of former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL).
“Unfortunately, criminal organizations have become much stronger in recent years, they have increased access to weapons throughout Brazil, due to a wrong policy in our country,” said Dino this Sunday (24). Despite the number of deaths, he ruled out the possibility of federal intervention in Bahia.
The data on weapons and violence do not follow the logic cited by the minister and have varied behaviors. According to the Brazilian Public Security Yearbook, produced by the Brazilian Public Security Forum, the state of São Paulo, between 2019 and 2022, was the state that requested the most weapons licenses, with 175 thousand registrations. On the other hand, this was the federation unit that had the lowest rates of lethal violence in 2022, with 8.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
In the case of Bahia, according to a study carried out by the Igarapé and Sou da Paz institutes, the state appears in 12th place among the 27 units of the federation, totaling 21,010 weapons registrations during Bolsonaro’s term. On the other hand, the state has the second highest rate of violent deaths in 2022, with 47.1 homicides per 100 thousand inhabitants. The number represents almost 7 thousand murders.
Dino’s statement also goes against the statement of Bahia’s own Secretary of Public Security, Marcelo Werner, who is a Federal Police delegate. Earlier this month, Warner stated that factional warfare is primarily responsible for the violence in the state.
“Faction warfare is mainly responsible for crime and violence in our state [Bahia]and, for this reason, we have carried out surgical and specific actions, reinforcing policing, intelligence, and the means to increasingly inhibit actions like this, which is the terror policy that they want to implement in our state”, he said Werner.
According to the president of the Association of State Military Officers of Bahia – Força Invicta, Igor Carvalho Rocha, the increase in the number of weapons, as Dino argued, does not explain the increase in violence in the state.
“It is a hypothesis that is not valid because this was a national policy. We do not see this situation in other states, as we are seeing in Bahia. We need to consider other variables. I see the issue of crime from an economic perspective. There is a market dispute [entre as facções] and we are doing this confrontation”, said Rocha.
He added that there are also “side effects” of fighting factions, which are not limited to arrests of criminals. “What happens now [na Bahia] It correlates with what happened in other states. Some groups that worked in other states are linked”, stated the president of the association.
For political scientist José Maria Nóbrega, coordinator of the Center for Studies on Violence, Crime and Democratic Quality at the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG), the data contradicts Dino’s speech.
“Across Brazil, the correlation we have is the opposite of what he said. While [houve] flexibility, access to firearms grew exponentially, and violence decreased. In Bahia, between 2017 and 2022, there was a small drop. This was not caused by the flexibility of firearms, but by the national policy of apprehension of drug trafficking”, said the professor.
Nóbrega also pointed out another element that helps explain the current situation. “Bahia is the state that invests the least in public security in the Northeast region. What we have is a mistaken policy that reduces State action, especially in reducing trafficking. The police that kill the most in Brazil are those in Bahia, not in confrontation with drug trafficking to put an end to trafficking, but in dispute with drug trafficking. We have to investigate why these police are killing so many”, stated the political scientist.
Bahia has been governed by successive administrations of the Workers’ Party (PT) since 2007. There were two administrations by Jacques Wagner (2007-2014), two governments by Rui Costa (2015-2022), and currently the position is held by Jerônimo Rodrigues (2023-2026).
For the former prosecutor of the Public Ministry of the State of Minas Gerais (MPMG) Rogério Greco, Dino’s statement may not correspond to what is observed in the reality of the states.
“You rarely see criminals with legal weapons. Crime has very heavy weapons. So, it is frivolous to accuse the CACs of being responsible for this situation. Looking proportionally at other states, in recent years, there has been a reduction in the number of homicides despite the increase of weapons. These homicides in Bahia are really due to the drug war, due to territorial control”, said Greco.
TCE points out lack of investment by the Bahia government in public security
According to an audit by the Court of Auditors of the State of Bahia (TCE-BA), the state government invested less in the budget allocated to public security, despite an increase in revenue. The analysis carried out by the body concerns the period between 2016 and 2022 – when Bahia was governed by Rui Costa (PT), current chief minister of the Civil House in the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT).
The TCE compared the total amounts of state revenue – allocated to all government departments, including Health and Education – with the amount allocated only to Public Security. In 2016, investment was 16.77% of total revenue, which represents approximately R$4.8 billion of the R$28 billion raised at the time. In 2022, the budget was 8.66%, which represents the same R$4.8 billion out of a budget of around R$55 billion.
In response sent to the portal g1the government of Bahia claimed that it increased investments by 58% and that the comparison made by the TCE is “disproportionate”.
“Comparing the resources allocated to Public Security with the State’s total net current revenue is not the most appropriate criterion for evaluating the importance given to the area by the Bahian government, as distortions may occur depending on the variety of sources of this revenue, including possible extraordinary values”, said the government of Bahia in a note.