Urban Violence in Brazil


Violence and crime is a global concern. The rate of crime in Brazil raises even more concerns as it has led to stunted economic growth, social discord, and unstable political environments. This situation is prevalent in urban locations. Various ideas have been put forward to explain the phenomenon. These arguments raise the questions on which factors cause urban violence, what role the government plays in this situations and what is an effective way outforward. In tThis paper I will explore the claims put forward, evaluate government efforts and its contribution to the persistence of violence. From these arguments Iit will establish lessons to be learnt and the make recommendations for on the control of the vice.

The state iofn Brazil is marked by homicides, theft and robbery, sexual assault and organized crime. The rate of urban violence is observed to be at the highest in the world making these urban regions the most unsafe places. Studies have shown that homicide rates in cities like Rio de Janeiro areto be higher than the overall national level. These statistics show an average of 57 homicides per 100000 head of population.


The direct costs of crimes and violence haveare economic, social, economic and political character. The observed costs observed include death and injury, destruction of public property, and loss of personal property and assets. The cities also suffer indirect costs of crime and violence such as population displacement, psychological trauma, the disruption of social services, increased spending on law enforcement, brain drain, and reduced economic growth.

The causes of the increase in violence and crime in Brazil isare connected to its past under military rule. This, however, has been accelerated by urbanization and other factors associated with it. Some notable factors that have contributed to urban violence in Brazil include government failure, city density, legacies of conflicts legacies, poverty inequality, and an abundance of young unemployed males. These factors have led to the increase of gangs and organized crime in some regions. These organizations engage in drug and illegal arms trade, prostitution, racketeering and violent crime. The prevalence of these gangs has marked some areas with low or zerothe absence of police presence.

The government of Brazil has made attempts to restraincontain violence and crime in some cities. These efforts have included aggressive community policing to community integration. While this effort has succeeded in some areas in reducing crime rate, it had has also had drawbacks. Extended violence has resulted marked byin high death tolls and heavy property loss.

In the attempts made to this explain this social phenomenon, various arguments on the causes of the excessive urban violence have been postulated put forward on the causes of the excessive urban violence and to the most effective means of containing restraining the situation have been proposed. The most common explanations to the persistence of violence in Brazil are high poverty rates, social factors and government failure.



High levels of poverty are often associated with violence and crime. Studies have shown that homicide rates in are several times higher in low- income areas of Rio de Janeiro (at 117 homicides per 100,000), as compared to those in middle class areas at (59 homicides per 100,000 in the population). Low incomes force the population of these regions to participate in illegal activities such as drug trade, prostitution and robbery. These illegal activities contribute to high levels of violence. Pierce also observes that the presence of high numbers of unemployed youth is also prevalent in these areas. Concentration of these youth with no positive engagement leads to high cases of deviant behavior that usually ends results in violent crime. There is also Aan increase in the willingness and ability to engage in criminal activity as a mean to acquire incomes also becomes present.

Areas with high levels of poverty are also characterized by a high population density. Population density is a factor influencing homicide and crime. In Brazil, the slum areas, also called favelas, are characterized by high levels of crime and violence. Statistics show that these areas have a high population density. Out of a total urban population of 63 million people, 1.4 million live in favelas. This concentration of people in small areas puts constraints on the available economic and social resources.

These arguments postulate poverty as being the major factor contributing to violence in Brazil. The lack of economic empowerment has been seen to cause the participation of the poor in illegal activities. Violence thus comes as a means to an end for the citizens.

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Social Factors

Social issues are also named among theforwarded to be a major factors in the contributing towards violence namely;. Cconflicting cultures, education levels and social inequality have been seen some of the social issue. In Brazil, most of the youth engage in crime related activity on the basis of its acceptance in the social environment. People born and brought up in these areas are exposed to violence at a very early age. Acceptance ofto violence and crime as a societal norm is cultivated on a daily basis. Association to with organized gangs also becomes as a means for social identification for people in this societiesy. Gang association and the violent nature of these groups cause the members to lose conscience control over their activities.

Education levels also affecthave an effect on the willingness of an individual to engage in acts of violence. Studies have observed that crime and violence is prevalent in areas where low education levels are prevalent. This may be attributed to the low employment opportunities and low paying jobs mainly in the manual labor sector. Frustration from lack of personal fulfillment may contribute to the high levels of aggression among these individuals.

In Brazil, social inequality is observed in social and economic facets of life. The favelas in the vicinity of cities are not fare exist short distances from middle class settlements. These contrasting environments are marked by extremes of wealth distributioninequality, average education levels and social values. The population in the favelas is heavily disenfranchised compared to fellow citizens living in the middle class to rich neighborhoods. This Such an segregation in allocation of resources and large gaps between the various classes in the society has been observed to contribute to violence aimed at those considered privileged.

There is also a prevalence of racial segregation. A large portion of the black race population is living in favelas as compared to those living in suburb areas of the city. Educational level imbalance is also evident. Studies of the Brazilian census of the year 2000 observed that, amongst two Brazilian boys of 18 years the white counterpart had, on average, 2.3 times more education than his black Counterpart. This has contributed to the observation of the vicious cycle of racial violence.

Advocates of this argument believe that the willingness to commit crime and violence is a social issue. They purport that this phenomenon is associated with the loose morals and values of these cultural societies. As a consequence, the populouspeople living in such social environment is are more likely to engage in crime and violence.

Government Failure

Past and current government failure has also been presented as a cause of the prevalence of crime and violence in Brazil. In the past, the government was primarily military run. This led to the countrys existing existence in the form of a siege. Violence and crime prevailed due to the lack of social and legal frameworks to contain restrain them. The situation however became aggravated when the country adopted a democratic form of government.

The unequal distribution of government resources led to resentment oftoward the government. This gave the organized gangs existing in certain regions political and social authority over citizens living in such areas. Lack of police activity has led to strengthening of these gangs and organized crimes. This has led to high levels of drug and arms trade in some of the rural and urban areas in the region. Corruption and unfair practices have led to increase of criminal activity in the country.

This theory claims that the government is primarily responsible for the economy and security of the country. Failure to perform these roles effectively has resulted in the prevalence of violence and crime in Brazil.

Government Response to the violence

The government of Brazil has made efforts to contain restrain the situation in Brazil. These attempts have largely been a trial and error attempts. The government has experienced heavy resistance in regions where violence is predominant. These attempts have been marked by the occurrence of more violence against the police presence and have led to killings of police officers both in and out of the line of duty. This is marked by Killings of police officers both in and out of the line of duty. An attempt to completely eliminate drug trade has experienced hardships. The organized criminals and gangs engaging in the illegal trade have continuously demonstrated their willingness to kill, engage in corruption or even participate in acts of terror in order to continue their trade. The Llack of well established government structures has also led to the instability of government control. Social studies have observed a dramatic tendency in Rio de Janeiro -, new gangs occupy areas where former stronger gangs have been eliminated by the police.

The government has resorted to using softer techniques in containing limiting violence and crime. These practices have involved community policing and pacification, social integration of the government agenda and balancing of national resource to the disenfranchised. Reforms in the judicial and police systems have also been put in place. Citizen Theis effort aims at ensuring that the citizens rights are protected from criminal activity. This government strategy adopts a comprehensive methodology of reinventing urban areas. It is marked by the use of incentives to attract the support of law abiding citizens.

Government Role in the Violence

The government of Brazil has contributed to the increase of violence in the urban regions of Brazil of the country. AThrough aggressive policing , with the aim of eliminating organized criminals and gang members has resulted to brutal police killings have resulted. The cases of killing of police officers in retribution has have also increased. The murders of Iinnocent killings of hostages and kidnappings in the attempt to dissuade government activities have also beenbecome prevalent.

Analysis and Recommendations

The theories on the arguments towards the prevalence of violence in urban Brazil are sound and logical. This demonstrates that the issue is not simplistic and could not be blamed on one single cause. It has also been observed that government involvement needs to be contained consistent and comprehensive. The control of violence and crime is a task that requires a collaborative effort from the authorities and citizens. Such an effort would ensure the sustainability of peace and a crime free society.

The first priority of the state should be the reduction of violence associated with drug trafficking. The police force should take center stage in the fight against crime. The new strategies should focus on taking back territories rather than merely targeting individual drug dealers.. Ultimately, however, Brazil should aim at finding ways to make the police more valued and respected by citizensin their communities. This could be done by presenting the police force as fair and sympathetic.

While the principal aim of the police force is elimination of crime and violence associated with organized crime, drug trade, and gang violence, efforts should also be made toward improving the existing legal frame work. This would encourage and ensure that citizens would obey the law. This preventive rather than suppressive force would minimize citizen engagement in illegal activity.

An effective legal system will guarantee that illegal acts will be punished through universally accepted law enforcement. This will also foster the creation of an effective social, economic, and political environment in which the laws are consistent with the needs of the people.

An important step would be the installation implementation of urban pacification and policing interventions. These involve the re-assertion of state authority with efforts to reinstall public services in neglected areas. These efforts comprise of both qualified police repression and socio-economic programs. Muggah recommends coupling that the efforts be coupled by reviving urban areas. He states that the efforts could include government subsidies and grants to rehabilitate houses, tax incentives to draw in business, social housing schemes, new deal regeneration funding packages, and environmental design efforts to unite the populations of the country closer together.


The three arguments postulated on the reasons for prevalence of violence and criminal activities in the urban regions of Brazil. It has been observed that violence undermines growth, threatens welfare and impedes development. The cases for social inequality, high poverty levels and government failure have been clearly brought forward. The case is however not a simplistic issue. It has been interwoven into the social fabric of urban Brazil. It is also clear, that violent reaction as an attempt to control the situation yields evens more violence rather than containing restraining the situation. The government should, therefore, employ less violent methods to control the situation. This warrants the adoption of a comprehensive way forward.

Theise methods would require total commitment of resources and manpower from authorities to completely eliminate the social dilemma. The use of community policing and pacification would empower the law abiding community as well as encourage personal ownership of government efforts. Effective legislation should also govern the systems of controlling crime in the country. An effective legal frame work would serve to dissuade people from committing crimes as well as achieve cooperation of the countrys citizens.

The police force should also use less violence and put in placeshould practice sustainable and a fair practice of the law. Finally the government should improve on equal allocation of resources. Creation of social programs that seek to empower the whole community would effectively reduce instances of crime and violence. In conclusion, while violence and crime can be attributed to variety of causes, all stakeholders in the society have a role to play tin controlling or eliminating the vice.

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