Political life and death

Brazilian government unlikely to act upon increase in political violence.

In Brazil, more than 5,000 cities hosted two-round municipal elections in November with centrist parties claiming some significant victories over the left and right.

The Organization of American States (OAS) reported, “Election Day passed quietly and there were no major incidents.” This is true, however, on 24 November, Brazil’s Supreme Court (TSE) had registered 100 murders and 264 attacks against candidates in the ten months prior to the municipal elections. This represents a five-fold increase on the 2016 municipal elections.

More than 24 political parties suffered attacks, reported the Electoral Investigation Group of the University of Rio de Janeiro, which monitors violence in electoral processes in the country. The centre-right Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) suffered the most attacks, followed by the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) and the centre-left Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). 

A senior executive at the Network of Security Observatories of Brazil told us, “The increase in political violence is connected to the rise of organised crime in Brazil over the last two years. Paramilitary groups, mostly led by retired police officials, have been used by local administrations against drug traffickers, but they do so through violent means and their leaders tend to be involved in other criminal activities too.” 

“The increase in political violence is connected to the rise of organised crime in Brazil over the last two years.”

Executive, Network of Security Observatories of Brazil

We also spoke to an experienced lobbyist in Brasilia who has worked with the country’s leading parties on security issues, “The only way to combat crime efficiently is by coordinating local, state and federal government. The federal government controls the army, the Federal Police, the Special Department for Federal Revenue (Receita Federal), the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) and other organisations which could help to tackle crime in the country. In turn, states have the power to organise, manage and train military police corps in their territories, while municipalities have the capacity to protect their facilities, services and goods [from criminal interference].” 

“The only way to combat crime efficiently is by coordinating local, state and federal government.”

Experienced lobbyist, Brasilia

A political analysts in the country added, “Under Bolsonaro’s administration, the complex and polarised political environment has created more problems than solutions. At present, there are no policies to tackle political violence and the federal government does not have clear objectives to coordinate a common response.”

Questioned about whether the federal government had a plan to combat violence in the country, the lobbyist said, “I don’t see Bolsonaro taking a firm approach to combat organised crime in the country. He is currently focused on offering further financial aid after his initial COVID-19 cash handouts gave him high approval ratings. Given that violence is seen as an endemic problem in the country, President Bolsonaro will focus on economic and social measures until the next election.”

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