Page 90

são paulo - a tale of two cities

homicide levels in 1999 were generally high (but similar to other Brazilian cities), but by 2008, they had dropped by 70 per cent (unlike other Brazilian cities that have maintained high levels). Between 1999 and 2008, the homicide rate dropped from an average of 37.5 killings per 100,000 residents to 10.7 per 100,000. There was an additional 54 per cent reduction in attempted homicides in São Paulo over the same period. Similarly, the number of robberies that ended in a death (of victims or perpetrators) declined by 65.7 per cent. Reported cases of rapes also declined by 28.7 per cent between 1999 and 2007, but rose by 4.1 per cent between 2007 and 2008. The number of reported theft cases (not including bank robbery and vehicle theft) between 1999 and 2008 declined by 13.5 per cent, while the drop in the number of kidnappings (with extortion) was a striking 83.1 per cent between 2002 and 2008. Between 2007 and 2008 alone, the number of kidnappings fell 39.1 per cent. Vehicle theft in the city has also declined by more than 60 per cent since 2000. Even so, petty and organized criminality, as well as corruption and abuse of authority by state officers, remain a stark reality in São Paulo today. Between 1999 and 2008, drug seizures by the police in São Paulo increased 106 per cent, with a two-year increase of 34 per cent between 2006 and 2008 alone.159 Meanwhile, São Paulo’s prisons have been filling, with a dramatic rise in inmates from almost 19,000 in early 1996 to almost 31,000 in early 2001. Since then, approximately 23,000 people have been imprisoned in any given month.160 The turning point in São Paulo’s homicide levels coincided with the peak of these imprisonments, though various analysts connect the decreases in crime, inequalities and poverty levels with the city’s simultaneous improvements in transportation policies and slum upgrading and regularisation efforts.

A culture of fear persists, despite declining crime figures Despite declining rates of violent crime in São Paulo, its citizens remain acutely aware of the city’s insecurity. The fear developed in

the worst years of epidemic crime appears to have changed the city irrevocably, most vividly in the heavy fortification of wealthy communities, which are statistically the safest. Violence in São Paulo continues to feature in the international media as a result of two different types of events: armed attacks on state institutions by organized criminal groups, often accompanied by shootouts in favelas when police or military forces pursue organized criminals; and violent confrontations between evicted favelados and state security services. According to some observers, the intention of criminal attacks on the state is to ‘generate media coverage, embarrass officials and intimidate law enforcement’161. The last major event of this kind was in May 2006, which resulted in 10 days of multiple attacks

São Paulo has managed to dramatically reduce the number of homicides in the city over the last 10 years. on police throughout the city by heavily armed gangs allegedly associated with the predominant Primeiro Comando Capital (PCC), as well as riots in 70 state prisons.162 The killings and subsequent police reprisals and investigations resulted in over 493 dead.163 In mid-July 2006, the PCC led further attacks in the city killing eight, and in early August of the same year, the PCC made another 78 attacks on police, buses and public buildings.164 According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), the PCC did not target civilians but caused ‘hysteria and paranoia among the local populace’.165 Evictions of cortiços or smaller settlements of São Paulo’s more than 1,500 favelas are a common occurrence and often pass without violence. The latest major event was in August 2009 where, according to news media, approximately 3,000 residents of a shantytown on the outskirts of São Paulo were left homeless after clashing with police who were enforcing an eviction order. This action was executed by the private owner of the land and not the municipality, which is now pay-

69

Profile for UN-Habitat

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Profile for unhabitat
Advertisement