Tag Archives: Recife

Police on strike leads to riots, armed robberies and tanks in the streets in Recife

In Recife, one of the World Cup’s host cities, a crime wave has been happening since the military police – responsible for urban security – went on strike.

Tanks in Recife following police strike

As of today the strike officially ended, but the images are disturbing considering the city will host the World Cup in a few weeks.

Armed robbery of a car in Recife in broad daylight following police strike.
Armed robbery of a car in Recife in broad daylight following police strike.

With almost no security at all, bandits have been robbing, assaulting and executing “arrastões”,  collective robbery, in most neighborhoods of the city.

The government was forced to send troops of the National Guard to secure Recife, one of the country’s biggest cities. Classes have been canceled at schools and universities, and commerce had to close theirs doors earlier than usual.

Tanks line the streets next to the beach in Recife with the police on strike
Tanks line the streets next to the beach in Recife with the police on strike
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Eight of Brazil’s 12 World Cup host cities are in the 50 most dangerous cities in the World

Empty perfume bottles used to deal drugs found in an abandoned house in Rio de Janeiro.
Empty perfume bottles used to deal drugs found in an abandoned house in Rio de Janeiro.

Out of Brazil’s 12 host cities for the 2014 World Cup, eight of them feature in the top 50 deadliest cities in the world.

The city with the highest murder rate in Brazil is Maceió in the northern state of Bahia, close to Salvador, a World Cup host city. It had a staggering 85 murders per 100,000 residents last year.

See the list below, but speaking from my own perspective living in Belo Horizinte (No. 48 on the list), I feel fairly safe on the streets, and the murders are contained to the poorer areas of the city, where drug-dealing and corruption are rife. Visiting tourists might get mugged, but as long as you hand everything over without a fight you’re unlikely to get killed (Youtube link).

Two striking omissions from the list: São Paulo is now approaching the 10 homicides per 100,000 mark, down from 35 in 1999, and in Rio de Janeiro the murder rate dropped from 42 murders per 100,000 in 2005 to 24 murders per 100,000 in 2012.

It is rising again, however. And it should also be noted that a lot of deaths are recorded as “Unexplained”, and don’t make the murder statistics. Bodies are regularly dumped in the jungle outside of big cities and, if ever found, recorded as unexplained.

In the order they feature in the list:

49) Brasilia scrapes into the Top 50 with 29 murders per 100,000 people.

48) Belo Horizonte barely scrapes in, too, with 29 murders per 100,000 people.

42) Curitiba is next on the list with 34 murders per 100,000 people.

30) Recife had 44 murders per 100,000 people.

28) Cuiaba had 45 per 100,000.

14) Salvador had 65 murders per 100,000 people.

13) Fortaleza tied with Salvador.

11) Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon, had 70 murders for every 100,000 people.

No. 1 on the list is San Pedro Sula in the Honduras, with 169 murders for every 100,000 citizens, followed by cities in Venezuela and Mexico. A total of 15 Brazilian cities are featured on the list.

A Rio de Janeiro's tools of the trade: a gun, a bullet-proof vest and a mobile phone.
A Rio de Janeiro’s tools of the trade: a 9mm handgun, a bullet-proof vest and a mobile phone.