Rio De Janeiro: A Local Response to a Global Challenge

Col. Robson Rodrigues da Silva
Laura Vargas
November 30, 2012

Transnational organized crime is often manifested by prevalent territorial disputes between rival criminal factions at local levels. Rio de Janeiro—considered one of the most violent of Brazilian cities—has linked lack of security in more than 1,000 of its favelas to a rise in drug trafficking on a regional and cross-border scale. Nonetheless, this city has attracted considerable international attention and investment in the wake of being chosen as host of the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Since 2008, Rio de Janeiro has launched innovative efforts to reduce violence and change the city’s security perceptions—mostly through community policing mechanisms—by establishing more than twenty permanent Pacifying Police Units, called Unidade de Policia Pacificadora (UPP), in its most entrenched communities. Recent progress in reducing Rio de Janeiro’s crime rates has partially been attributed to the UPP’s successful implementation. Col. Robson Rodrigues da Silva, current Chief of Staff of Administration of the State Military Police of Rio de Janeiro (PMERJ) and former Coordinating Commander of the UPP, explains that the main goal of this program has been to gradually replace repressive action with social preventive measures. Laura Vargas, of the Journal, conducted the following interview with Col. Robson Rodrigues da Silva.