HomeNewsBriefAt Rio Carnival, Crime and Corruption Overshadow Brazil's Biggest Party
BRIEF

At Rio Carnival, Crime and Corruption Overshadow Brazil's Biggest Party

BRAZIL / 16 FEB 2018 BY C.H. GARDINER EN

Brazil’s biggest annual celebration came to a close amid several indications of deepening insecurity in Rio de Janeiro, as well as ongoing concerns about corruption and criminal infiltration of politics in the country’s second-largest city.

Despite the 17,000 police working throughout the February 9 to February 13 holiday, violence was a significant issue as mobs of youths assaulted and robbed tourists in areas customarily thought to be safe. Meanwhile, confrontations with criminals left three police dead and two wounded.

The samba schools, several of which used their high-profile parades to highlight issues of insecurity and corruption, themselves were marred by allegations of graft.

Beija-Flor, the eventual carnival champions, included in its exhibition depictions of gang violence in marginalized neighborhoods and a giant rat meant to symbolize corrupt politicians. At the same time, the president of the organization is currently contesting a 48-year conviction for racketeering and corruption. The president of another major samba school is also being investigated for money laundering.

The security problems during Carnival seemed to stem from a lack of organization on the part of city officials. Mayor Marcelo Crivella was traveling in Europe for the entirety of the festivities, and the security plan for the event changed drastically in the middle of the holiday after the spike in violence. (Last year, thousands of military police were sent to the city ahead of the celebration to reinforce security.)

On February 16, just days after the end of Carnival, President Michel Temer signed a decree for the national military to take total control of security operations in the state of Rio de Janeiro, including assuming command of civilian police forces. The federal intervention will last until the end of the year.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rio’s carnival was hoped by many to provide a respite from the problems that have plagued the city. Instead, the event served as a reminder that the issues of rising violence and deep-seated corruption remain front and center in the minds of the Brazilian public.

As reflected in a number of the samba school performances, recent surveys have shown mounting concern among Rio's residents about insecurity related to gang violence. Entire neighborhoods have come under siege as crime groups continue to battle the police and each other.

The official response to the crisis -- repeated waves of militarization -- has not shown long-term success. And the head of the armed forces recently warned that involving the military in civilian security operations could lead to corruption among the troops. But momentum for a change in strategy has been hindered by a lack of resources and political will.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

Likewise, the allegations of corruption against leaders of the samba schools point to a system that is still struggling to deal with deep-rooted graft.

Despite a years-long anti-corruption drive that has reached the highest echelons of political and economic power in Brazil, the issue is playing a prominent role in the run-up to general elections scheduled for October -- particularly in Rio. A Federal Police report recently obtained by O Globo highlighted the risk of partnerships between local politicians and the heads of criminal organizations aimed at influencing the outcome of the elections.

This report comes on the heels of accusations that President Michel Temer’s pick for labor secretary, Cristiane Brasil, paid drug traffickers for exclusive access to campaign in 2010 in a suburb of Rio. Crime groups were also accused of attempting to intervene in 2016's municipal elections in Rio through a combination of political violence and illicit campaign financing.

 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 25 MAR 2022

In many of Rio de Janeiro's favelas, criminal organizations are setting exorbitant prices for gas cylinders, knowing that residents will…

BRAZIL / 14 JUN 2022

A large-scale seizure of Irganox 1076 in Brazil show that this cutting agent is now being used to cut large…

AYOTZINAPA / 6 OCT 2022

Mexico's army is being given more public security responsibilities, despite its human rights abuses.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…