Legacy of ministers lights public safety alert

Legacy of ministers lights public safety alert

The conduct of public security in the management of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), under the command of Minister Flávio Dino (PSB), has been floundering in this beginning of the new federal administration. With few proposals presented both in the partial government program and during the electoral campaign, the scenario that began in Lula’s new term is one of many ideological discourses and few clear definitions on the subject.

One of the hopes for the emergence of concrete measures to fight crime was the relaunch of the National Program for Public Security with Citizenship (Pronasci). The program was launched on Wednesday (15) – still in the tone of an electoral campaign -, with various nods to Lula’s support base, criticism of political opponents and police forces and, above all, without measures to confront organized crime. The announcement concerns specialists in public security, who point to a lack of pragmatism in the management of the issue by the PT government.

With growing concern about the conduct of security at the federal level, the People’s Gazette evaluated the way in which two Brazilian states that were governed by Lula’s ministers, Bahia and Maranhão, were managed in recent years to understand what can be expected from now on regarding the fight against crime.

Both states have been governed in recent years with a vision very close to what Lula has announced that he intends to follow – while Maranhão has been under the command of Minister Flávio Dino for the last eight years, Bahia has been governed since 2007 by members of the Partido dos Workers (PT); Rui Costa, current Minister of the Civil House, I was one of the PT members who was at the head of the State Executive.

When analyzing data from the 2022 Brazilian Public Security Yearbook, prepared by the Brazilian Public Security Forum (FBSP), what draws attention is that when they retired from office last year, former governors left behind dramatic rates related to homicide, drug trafficking and other crimes, such as car theft and robberies of commercial establishments and people on the streets. And what’s worse: the record of increased violence in the states occurs while the country’s average had significant improvements in some of these indicators, as is the case of homicides.

The crime of vehicle theft, for example, increased by 90% in Maranhão in the last year of Dino’s administration, while the country’s average was a 4% reduction in this crime. Bahia, on the other hand, registers the highest numbers of homicides since the beginning of the historical series calculated by the FBSP, in 2011, when the state had already been governed by the PT for four years. While the country has experienced a significant drop in violent deaths since 2018, the state of Bahia has maintained the same levels of violence.

Per capita expenditure on public security in both states is also among the worst in the country, according to the latest edition of the Yearbook. PT governments have progressively reduced spending in this area in recent years – to give you an idea, only Piauí recorded per capita spending on security lower than Bahia and Maranhão over the last four years.

As an inheritance, Rui Costa left Bahia in the lead in the incidence of several crimes

The election of Jerônimo Rodrigues to the government of Bahia last year represents the consolidation of the PT’s hegemony in the state – the fourth most populous state in the country according to the IBGE, with 14.9 million inhabitants. The mandate that began this year is the fifth consecutive under the party’s management. Between 2007 and 2014, Bahia was governed by Jaques Wagner, who was Lula’s minister and is now leader of the government in the Senate, and from 2015 to 2022 by Rui Costa, current Minister of the Civil House.

What is most striking when analyzing numbers on crime during the PT’s administration is that since 2011, when the FBSP began to annually monitor public safety indicators in Brazil, the state leads the ranking of homicides among all states of the federation. from the country. The peak was in 2016, when 7,100 violent deaths were recorded in Bahia, while the country’s average – much higher in Bahia – was 2,300 homicides. The only state that in a few years came close to Bahia’s numbers was Rio de Janeiro, which is experiencing a unique scenario of urban warfare due to the dominance of criminal factions linked to drug trafficking in the Rio de Janeiro hills.

In 2021, while Brazil reached the lowest number of violent deaths since 2011, with a 6.5% drop, only four states recorded an increase in homicides, among them Bahia. Still that year, the state drastically increased its numbers in several crimes, appearing in the first places in the ranking of larceny (robbery followed by death), vehicle theft, robbery of commercial establishments, residences and banks, robbery of people in the streets and drug trafficking. drugs.

In most of these crimes, Bahia went against the grain of the rest of the country, which showed a reduction in crimes. As for the cases of crimes that also registered an increase in the rest of Brazil, Bahia had much more expressive increases, reaching almost ten times more in some cases. By way of comparison, while the country’s average for the crime of theft from commercial establishments was a 6.5% increase, Bahia registered an increase of 63.6%, occupying the clear leadership in this crime.

As examples of the few crimes that the state has managed to reduce are theft and theft of cell phones – both registered a drop between 2018 and 2021. The scenario for public security professionals in the state is not favorable. Bahia added the third highest number of police officers killed in 2021, behind only Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

For experts, PT governments left security in the background in Bahia

Sérgio Habib, who was Bahia’s secretary of public security in the 1990s and is a professor of Criminal Law, points out that the main crime problems in the state are linked to crimes resulting from drug trafficking, such as homicides and robberies. “Bahia is almost a national champion today in these rates of trafficking and crimes involving trafficking. The state leads in the number of homicides, mainly in the outskirts, but this has also grown a lot in the upscale neighborhoods”, he declares.

For him, the PT administrations that lasted in power did not see security as a priority. “There was a lot of investment in building and paving roads, for example, but I think the PT government did not give due importance to public safety, and the population lacked it”, says Habid. “Citizens cannot go out on the streets at night, cannot use public parks. During the day he also has many dangers, like a bank outing and other things like that. This is a management problem. Public security is the ‘Achilles heel’ of the government of Bahia”, says Habib.

For Henrique Quintanilha, a Bahian criminal lawyer and former professor at UFBA, the PT governors were not able to stop the advance of criminal factions, which in recent years have expanded to the Northeast and North regions of the country. “Seeing a more permissive attitude towards drug trafficking, highly complex criminal organizations began to see the capital, Salvador, as a viable alternative to the traditional centers of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, forming a new center of high crime, which did not exist two decades ago”, says the criminalist. “Trafficking arrived here and found no resistance,” he points out.

In addition to the precarious structure for the performance of the military and civil police – which has an even greater impact in the interior of the state –, Quintanilha regrets episodes such as the statement by Ricardo Mandarino, Secretary of Public Security of Bahia in the management of Rui Costa, given last year on the decriminalization of marijuana use.

In a video that went viral, Mandarino claimed that the drug would “emancipate” people and “increase creativity”, ignoring research on side effects and increased crime. “[As drogas] they take you out of mental chains, they make you mentally emancipated, which is what we need to be. We cannot stay in these little boxes”, said Mandarino at the time.

“When the drug dealers, who are responsible for this major crime, hear that from a secretary of public security, it is clear that it sends a message encouraging crime”, says Quintanilha.

Supposed tolerance for MST invasions in Bahia

Home to several national movement leaders, Bahia is one of the most important locations for the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST). The stage of frequent land invasions until 2018, the state recorded a significant reduction in these acts in the last four years under the management of former President Jair Bolsonaro (PL). However, Incra’s new policy – of granting definitive land titles to rural producers and weakening the power of MST militants over producers – generated a series of conflicts, especially in the southern region of the state, with the record of aggressions and vandalism several carried out by militants of the movement.

In the series of reports that the People’s Gazette did about the crimes (Subjects 1, two It is 3), several rural producers who had broken with the movement told the newspaper that the Military Police had refused to respond to the calls. According to the sources, police officers would have informally mentioned to the producers the existence of an order coming from the state government to the PM Command, so that military police officers would not enter MST settlement areas. At the time, the report questioned the Bahian Military Police and the governor’s office about the allegations – both did not respond to requests for information.

Since the beginning of the new government, land invasions have occurred again, without Lula or other high-ranking members of the government condemning the acts or taking concrete measures to inhibit them. “I believe that there was leniency from previous governments in Bahia regarding these invasions. Unfortunately, the party accepts and encourages these acts. There were invasions, and when the police were called, it was difficult for the landowners to get the police ready to vacate the land”, says Habib.

“At a time when the government is not interested in complying with these orders, this becomes difficult. So I don’t think it’s the fault of the military or civil authority. I attribute this to the government itself. I don’t think there was an order not to do it, but rather a leniency, a ‘blind eye’”, he adds.

Under the management of Flávio Dino, Maranhão had a peak in homicides

Flávio Dino was at the head of the government of Maranhão for two terms, and the current governor of the state is his successor. During his administration, Lula’s current Minister of Justice and Public Security failed to reduce crime rates in the state. The year 2016, the second under his command, was marked by the highest number of violent deaths in Maranhão in the entire historical series calculated by the FBSP, with more than 2,300 homicides.

As of 2018, when several states began to record a reduction in the number of violent deaths, Maranhão recorded a small decrease in the rates in 2018 and 2019, but returned to the previous level as of 2020.

When announcing his departure from the government to be a pre-candidate for the Federal Senate, last year, Dino left the state in a very critical scenario, according to the Public Security Yearbook 2022. the largest proportional increase in vehicle theft in the country – the increase was 90.4%. By way of comparison, the second largest proportional increase occurred in Acre, and was 25%.

Maranhão also occupied, in 2021, one of the first places in the ranking of states with the highest increase in robbery crimes, behind only Bahia, Amazonas, Amapá and Rondônia. The state also had the highest proportional increase in theft from people on the streets, with an increase of 21.4%, while the country recorded an average reduction of 7.5%. Maranhão also ranked very poorly in crimes such as theft of commercial establishments, theft of cell phones and drug trafficking.

With regard to the security forces, the number of police officers killed on duty has remained the same over the past year. However, the number of police officers who took their own lives stands out. Maranhão leads the number of cases of suicide by security agents according to the latest edition of the Yearbook, with an increase of 210%, compared to the average of 59.7% in the rest of the country.

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