Intermarkets' Privacy Policy
Iran Demands Admission of "Trespass" | Main | Wilberforce!
March 29, 2007

In Capital's Slums, Militias Fuel Urban Violence

No, not Baghdad. Rio de Janiero. Which may not technically be Brazil's capital, but come on, who's zoomin' who?

A decorated police officer was sitting behind the wheel of his Toyota pickup truck here last month when a group of men surrounded the vehicle and pumped more than 40 bullets into him.

Such execution-style killings are not unusual in a city where police and gang members routinely battle for turf in the shantytowns, but this one sent ripples through Rio. The slain officer, Felix dos Santos Tostes, had been moonlighting as the leader of a militia unit -- one of the well-armed groups that have multiplied throughout the city's slums in recent months, complicating an urban conflict that has defied solution for decades.

The militias have wrested control of nearly 100 of this city's 600 slums, or favelas, from the drug gangs that have long held sway, according to police and nongovernmental organizations. Tostes's murder showed why the shift worries so many people here: Although the militias profess to make the neighborhoods safe, violence is following them. And the deep connections some of the groups maintain to police and political circles make monitoring and controlling them extraordinarily difficult.

Law enforcement and government officials have traditionally advocated a hard-line stance against the easily vilified drug gangs, but Rio's new governor, Sergio Cabral, is urging his colleagues to reject the notion that the militias are the lesser of two evils. He has compared the recent rise of the militias to the situation in Colombia, where the involvement of paramilitary fighters has further muddied that country's long-running battle against Marxist guerrillas. Cabral visited Bogota this week to discuss methods of controlling violence with his Colombian counterparts.

"The government says the militias should be investigated, but the situation is almost comical," said Rodrigo Pimentel, a former military police officer who is now a security consultant. "A lot of people inside the police intelligence units in charge of investigating them are involved with the militias themselves. That's why when the police give the government a list of suspected militia members that should have 700 names on it, there are only 40 or 50."

The militia groups controlling the various neighborhoods are not affiliated with one another. Some were started by residents of the favelas themselves, but many are led by off-duty or retired police officers, firemen and private security workers.

Interesting article. The government maintains its monopoly on the use of force only so long as the public perceives it as exercising that monopoly wisely and justly. When the government fails to do so -- as here, where straight law enforcement is ineffectual against drug gangs -- extralegal vigilantism inevitably ensues.

Via Pajamas Media.

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:15 PM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
BetaCuck4Life: "Glenn Beck "I am all in on Donald Trump". Best ..."

Dan Smoot's Apprentice: "Drew Brees issued the most grovelling apology ever ..."

Mary Poppins' Practically Perfect Piercing: "Morning, 'rons and 'ronettes. JJ and Brother Ca ..."

Quint: "really disappointed with Drew Brees Posted by: ..."

Moron Robbie - Reject the systemic racism of Affirmative Action : "Another moron posted this road map of Marxist revo ..."

mr tmz: "What are the odds of the NFL's tv ratings dropping ..."

African Studies major: "really disappointed with Drew Brees Posted by: So ..."

SorryBlackOrchid: "the staff of the Inky and maybe also the DN are al ..."

Carlin's Ghost: "Caribbean islands like Monserrat had lotsa Irish s ..."

runner: "(*to bullies) ..."

Mr. Peebles: "[i]Rep. Eric Swalwell@RepSwalwell In a few years, ..."

runner: "Do people realize that kneeling and apologizing to ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64