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Cablegate: Brazil: Less Guns, More Butter: Lula Takes On

VZCZCXRO8014
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0056/01 0091721
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 091721Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0817
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6511
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5234
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7176
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0098
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7588
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 5671
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1448
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 000056

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR WHA, WHA/BSC, AND INL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2018
TAGS: KCRM KJUS PGOV BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: LESS GUNS, MORE BUTTER: LULA TAKES ON
CRIME (PART 2 OF 3)

REF: A. A. BRASILIA 000035
B. B. BRASILIA 000761
C. C. SAO PAULO 000873
D. D. RECIFE 000087

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION PHIL CHICOLA FOR REASONS 1.4 B A
ND D

1. (C) Summary: As part of the Lula government's plan to take
on the crime issue, the government proposed a multi-pronged
plan to address both the social causes of crime and the
weakness of the law enforcement community to fight it.
Lula's proposal, the National Program on Public Security with
Citizenship (PRONASCI) seeks in the first instance to address
the social roots of Brazil's crime problem (Ref A). But it
also attempts to tackle the most often heard complaints about
Brazil's fractious state-level law enforcement structure: its
corrupt nature, its use of excessive violence, and its
appalling inefficiency in solving criminal cases. The
program focuses on improving the various state police forces
through education and technical training, a focus that,
although necessary, will only bear fruit over the long-term
and promises little relief to a Brazilian populace
increasingly fed up with the ineffectual actions of all
levels of government. In addition, the program punts on the
problem of overcrowded prisons teeming with criminal gangs
that control narcotrafficking networks in the
cities--proposing to build less than half the number of
prisons necessary to meet current demand--and ignores the
judicial sector altogether. Observers agree that, while the
law enforcement measures in PRONASCI were necessary and
long-overdue, the program avoided making hard choices with
regard to law enforcement and, as a result, fails as a
meaningful response to the public security crisis.

2. (U) This cable is one in a series by Mission Brazil on
crime issues at both the national and regional levels
(reftels). Septel will address the potential role of the
military in solving Brazil,s growing public security
concerns.

-----------------------------------------
The Police as Part of the Problem
-----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) A consistent theme echoed by government officials,
public security analysts, and the media is the poor and
varying quality of the state police forces. Collectively,
Brazilian police forces are among the least effective in the
world. Although no official public statistics are available,
"Veja" reported in October 2005 that Brazilian police forces
solve only 3% of the more than 40,000 yearly homicide cases.
Figures from this year's Annual Survey of the Brazilian Forum
on Public Security show that Military Police forces in many
states have an inadequate educational background. In some of
the largest states such as Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and
Pernambuco, 70%, 41%, and 33% of the Military Police forces
of those states, respectively, lack a high school degree. In
the best states, Parana and Sergipe, the figures are 13% and
16%, respectively. Balestreri, told poloff that
fragmentation of the public security system--27 military
police forces and 27 civil police forces, not including
municipal guards--with their vastly differing capabilities,
makes the task of improving public security at the national
level even more complicated. Some state police academies
suffer from poor curricula, have barely functioning crime
labs, and offer very little by way of technical training.
(Note: In Brazil, law enforcement functions at the state
level are conducted by two separate corps of police forces.
The military police is the regular uniformed police and the
civil police conducts investigations. End note.)

4. (C) A central focus of the Lula government in crafting
PRONASCI was the need to improve the police forces of the
states--to make them more efficient, less prone to using
excessive force, and make them more accountable to the
people. Director of Research for the Ministry of Justice's
National Secretariat for Public Security (SENASP) Ricardo
Balestreri told poloff that with PRONASCI the government

BRASILIA 00000056 002 OF 003


wants to send the message that previous approaches focused
solely on increasing the numbers and firepower of the police
were wrong-headed. In the GOB,s view, Brazil already has
enough policemen (490 per 100,000 people, according to the
Annual Survey of the Brazilian Forum for Public Security
compared to approximately 285 per 100,000 in the United
States using 2004 figures) and its police forces kill enough
presumed criminals--in Rio de Janeiro alone, according to
official state figures, police operations led to the deaths
of 870 people through the first nine months of 2007.
Balestreri said that there has been no impact on crime rates
to show for these deaths, proving that purely repressive
policies do not work. The missing variables in the public
security debate, he said, have been the social context and
the effectiveness of the police. With regard to the latter,
Balestreri said the government is putting its bets on
enhancing the skills of police officers and changing their
mentality.

------------------
Back to School
------------------

5. (U) Through PRONASCI, the Federal Government is stepping
into the breach by strengthening the National Network of
Advanced Studies in Public Security (RENAESP) through which
the Public Security Secretariat is partnering with
universities in creating graduate programs for public
security professionals. RENAESP is available to military and
civil police, fire fighters, and municipal guards as a
graduate degree in public security with coursework on human
rights, ethics, sociology, investigative techniques, use of
statistics, evidence gathering, toxicology, DNA, ballistics,
intelligence, conflict mediation, and forensic science.
Currently offered in 22 universities in fifteen states plus
the federal district, with 1600 students, PRONASCI will
expand RENAESP to 80 universities by the end of 2008.
PRONASCI also calls for establishment of 140 distance
learning centers within police facilities, on top of the 60
already in existence, for officers to undertake courses in
substantive subject matter such as trafficking in persons and
money laundering.

6. (U) PRONASCI also creates a "Bolsa Formacao" to address
the poor salaries of police officers, and particularly the
disparity in salaries between the states, by providing 400
reais (about USD 230) for police officers with salaries of up
to 1,400 reais (about USD 800) per month. In exchange, the
officer must participate every twelve months in courses
approved by RENAESP. According to Balestreri, in 4 to 5
years with the training through PRONASCI's programs, "we will
have critical mass that will change fundamentally the way the
police works."

7. (U) Another program created under PRONASCI will give
housing assistance to more than 60,000 state military and
civil police officers that live in high-crime areas in order
to encourage and disseminate the concept of community
policing throughout Brazil.

-----------------------------------------
Prison Building Ramp-Up Still Not Enough
-----------------------------------------

8. (U) PRONASCI will provide funding for the construction and
improvement of 187 prisons for 33,400 men and 4, 400 women, a
quantity far too small to effectively deal with the severe
overcrowding problem in Brazilian prisons. According to the
Forum's Annual Survey, official government data show that in
2006 there were more 100 thousand more inmates than spaces
for them in Brazilian prisons--a figure most public security
analysts dispute as far too low. Sociologist Julita
Lemgruber, for example, recently wrote that anybody who had
visited a Brazilian prison would quickly realize that the
officially reported rate of 1.4 prisoners per each available
space is completely unreliable and that the figure is almost
certainly higher (Human Rights Watch put the number at 1.7 in
its 2006 report).


BRASILIA 00000056 003 OF 003


------------------------
Avoiding Tough Issues
------------------------

9. (C) For some observers, the Lula government lacked
ambition in crafting its plan. For starters PRONASCI does
little to improve the reliability of crime statistics, which
many observers believe understate the severity of Brazil's
crime problem. Alexandre Sankiewicz, Legislative Consultant
on Criminal Justice issues for the Brazilian Chamber of
Deputies, told poloff that neither national nor state-level
data is trustworthy, as governors manipulate crime statistics
and police precincts do not register all events. Supporting
Sankiewicz's point, according to this year's Annual Survey of
the Brazilian Forum for Public Security, state governments
reported 40,975 murders, while the Ministry of Health
reported 47,578, some 15 percent more. Fixing this reporting
problem would not only help in strategic planning, but would
take away control over information from state governors.

10. (C) Federal Deputy, William Woo (PSDB, Social Democracy
Party, opposition; of Sao Paulo), and a career Civil Police
officer, told poloff that PRONASCI fails to deal adequately
with police corruption. Conditions for police officers in
Brazil--low pay, little to no money for training or
maintenance of vehicles, high-risk of getting killed--are
such that it is almost impossible not to be corrupt.
PRONASCI, however, deals with the problem only by providing
financial incentives for police officers to tempt them away
from corrupt practices. It provides few resources to
actively combat police corruption. As a result, Woo sees
PRONASCI as less a public security plan than a social welfare
program with a few public security programs thrown in.

11. (SBU) Another problem PRONASCI fails to address is
weaknesses in the judicial branch, and the impunity such
inefficiency breeds. The initial judicial process on
homicide cases take on average 10-12 years to be concluded,
according to various news sources. Furthermore, Brazil lacks
a sufficient number of judges (5.3 per 100,000, about half
the rate in the US) and its procedural code is unwieldy and
in need of streamlining, in Sankiewicz,s view.

--------
Comment
--------

12. (C) While PRONASCI contains thoughtful initiatives to
bolster law enforcement that merit support and may well
achieve a measure success--including the educational and
training programs included within RENAESP--PRONASCI appears
to be another missed opportunity for a government that has
often proved timid on matters of domestic reform. Rather
than presenting a truly comprehensive solution to what
everyone agrees is a calamitous problem, the government has
instead nibbled at its edges with an approach that seems
designed to cater to its leftist base--from educational
programs to cash-handouts to social projects. The net result
is a plan that allows the government to say it has taken
action, while avoiding many of the tough issues and keeping
primary responsibility for providing public security at the
state level. PRONASCI succeeds primarily in legitimizing
both the argument that there are socio-cultural aspects to
reducing crime that have long-been neglected and, the growing
acceptance of an expanded role for the federal government in
improving public security. These were hurdles that needed
jumping in order to tackle the problem in a long-term
fashion. But in concrete policy terms PRONASCI fails in its
principal goal--to offer hope to a populace hungry for
results that a more effective police force might succeed in
reducing crime in the near future.

SOBEL

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