Rio de Janeiro - The Federal Police and the Army carry out a procedure for the destruction of approximately 4000 weapons collected by the PF in the last two years (Tânia Rêgo:Agência Brasil)
Rio de Janeiro - The Federal Police and the Army carry out a procedure for the destruction of approximately 4000 weapons collected by the PF in the last two years (Tânia Rêgo:Agência Brasil)

With a strong arms industry, Brazil is among the world powers in the production and commercialization of firearms. It is also the fourth largest exporter of small arms in the world, second only to the United States, Italy and Germany, according to the survey. Small Arms SurveyIn 2012, the activity generated US$ 374 million for this Brazilian industrial sector, surpassing the Russian Federation and China. 

The more weapons circulating, the more deaths. The main focus of this lethal violence continues to be young people, black people, with low education and residents of the periphery of large cities – all these overlapping characteristics. And Brazil continues to ignore this situation in its public security plans. It bets on reducing lethality among the white and favored population, and fails to protect the population group most vulnerable to this condition, perpetuating a characteristic and structuring racist behavior of Brazilian society itself. A historical reality that deepens.

This is the picture revealed (once again) by two important publications launched this week: the Atlas of Violence, the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) and the Brazilian Public Security Forum (FBSP), and the Map of Violence 2016, from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Flacso).

Brazil registered, in 2015, 59.080 homicides. This number corresponds to a rate of 28,9 deaths per 100 inhabitants, according to IPEA and the Brazilian Public Security Forum. “This is an exorbitant number, which means that in just three weeks the total number of murders in the country exceeds the number of people who were killed in all terrorist attacks in the world in 2017”, the study shows. For comparison purposes, this year there were 499 attacks in which 3.343 people died. Violence in Brazil kills much more.

This data also consolidates a change in the level of lethal violence and highlights the trend towards an increase in the number of deaths from firearms. shows that the Disarmament Statute played a key role in curbing the growth of firearm violence between 2003 and 2014, until the rates stagnated. But now it's not enough. Other measures, especially public policies for youth, would need to be added to the initiative. “Despite the statute, the authorities at various levels, federal, state and municipal, have not organized themselves to remove firearms from circulation”, says Daniel Cerqueira, a researcher at IPEA and coordinator of the Atlas of Violence.

The use of firearms is present in 71,9% of homicides, 7 out of 10 cases. For every 1% increase in the proliferation of weapons, the homicide rate increases by 2%, the study points out. Gun control policies enacted in 2004 with the Disarmament Statute were responsible for saving the lives of 133.987, this year's Map of Violence shows.

Firearm fatality rate per 100 population
Firearm fatality rate per 100 population

racial selectivity

Lethal violence in the country has been a target since Brazil became Brazil. For every 100 people who were murdered in 2015, 71 were black, 54 were young, and 73 did not have completed elementary school (these characteristics coalesce). Blacks are 23,5% more likely to be murdered than Brazilians of other races. Historical racism and deep inequality are factors that cause so many lives to be lost to naturalization. The murder of black women is also much higher than the mortality of white women. Between 2005 and 2015, there was a 22% increase in black mortality, while there was a 7,4% reduction in non-black mortality.

“In addition to the legacy of the colonial and slave-holding past, other factors can be mentioned in an attempt to explain this increasing racial selectivity of homicidal violence. In the first place, the progressive privatization of the security apparatus”, explains the Mapa da Violência. “In theory, the wealthier sectors and areas, generally white, have a double security: public and private; while the less affluent, those on the periphery, predominantly black, have to be content with the minimum security that the State offers. A second factor adds to and complements the previous one: security, health, education, etc., areas that form part of the political-electoral game and the partisan dispute. Public security actions and coverage are distributed unequally in different geographic areas, prioritizing spaces according to their political visibility, their impact on public opinion and, mainly, on the media, which reacts very differently according to status. victims' social and economic As a result, public protection resources are channeled, preferably, to the wealthiest areas, with a predominance of white population, which boast the benefits of double security, public and private.”

What is not considered is that by not dealing with lethal violence, the country cannot develop as a nation. We have lost 318 young people to homicide in the last 10 years. “The authorities lack commitment”, warns Cerqueira. These deaths also cost the country 1,5% of GDP.

Another driving force that kills young black people is the police, under the argument of the “war on drugs”. According to the Atlas of Violence, in 2015 public security recorded 3.320 deaths resulting from police intervention, an underreported data. “In recent years, we have witnessed a realignment in favor of this model of police action, which remains one of the greatest challenges of our process of democratic consolidation and an effective rule of law”, states the study. “It is no wonder that the rates of homicides committed by the police in Brazil are very high. It is a militarized police force, which sees young people, especially blacks and residents of favelas and peripheries, as potential enemies that must be fought. And of a “war on drugs” policy that has been questioned and abandoned in various parts of the world,” he says. Jurema Werneck, Executive Director of Amnesty International.

Firearm homicides by race. Source: Map of Violence
Firearm homicides by race. Source: Map of Violence

Federation Units and Municipalities

In 2015, only 111 municipalities (which correspond to 2,0% of the total number of municipalities, or 19,2% of the Brazilian population) accounted for half of the homicides in Brazil and 557 municipalities (10% of the total) concentrated 76,5% of the homicides in Brazil. violent deaths in the country. The most peaceful municipalities are located in the Southeast and the most violent are in the Northeast. Altamira (PA) leads the list among cities with more than 100 thousand inhabitants. Among the causes for this situation are deep social inequality and disorderly growth.

The three most violent states are also in the Northeast: Sergipe is first on the list of the Atlas of Violence, followed by Alagoas and Ceará. The case of Pernambuco stands out, which had its capital, Recife, as the champion of homicides. With public security policies aimed at maintaining life (and not repression), Pernambuco had a 36% drop in the homicide rate over 11 years. But violence grew in 2014, showing that cross-cutting measures are needed in several areas to address this issue.

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