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Brazil is stamping out favela violence – now on to trash collection and education

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Mr. Cano’s study, funded by the Caracas-based Development Bank of Latin America by way of the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety, took great methodological pains in comparing crime statistics. Which makes it particularly heartening to find that statistics for UPP communities, for police stations serving them, and for their geographical surroundings, all show that UPPs significantly reduce lethal violence. Interestingly, they also increase non-lethal crime: robberies and such may be on the rise now (and/or being reported more) because the iron-fisted rule of drug traffickers is ending.

In UPP favelas alone, pacification saves an estimated 60 lives a year per 100,000 inhabitants.

At 227 pages, the study is a long read. But it’s a worthwhile investment because the numbers and analysis basically demonstrate that UPPs are pacifying the police and strengthening their institutional role in society. Because of UPPs, police killings are significantly down. Inside and near UPP favelas, this is the single most significant factor in reduced lethal violence. In addition, UPPs may lead cariocas to feel more compelled to report non-violent crime than they did before.

Another reason the study is a must-read are the excerpts from interviews carried out with favela residents, community leaders and police from a variety of levels of the hierarchy. This qualitative data provides valuable windows to the changes under way in Rio. For example, pacification has allowed some favela residents not only to come and go freely in their own communities, but also to at last visit those formerly belonging to “enemy” factions. The interviews also shed useful light on topics such as funk dances and mototaxis, both murky areas of conflict between UPP police and favela residents.

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