Foreign Policy Blogs

Taking police brutality to a new level

Apparently, 11,000 Brazilians have been killed by the police over the last six years. Yikes.

Brazil’s future as one of the next major powers—indeed, the B in BIC* stands for Brazil—over the next few decades looks almost assured. It faces no credible threats, possesses a large population and a significant allotment of natural resources. If anyone were picking a foreign leader of the decade, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would undoubtedly be near the top.

What Brazil—and most other Latin American countries—lacks is a strong emphasis on the rule of law. The extrajudicial killings by the Brazilian police are horrific, and must be stopped. Yes, policing in Brazil (and Mexico, Colombia, etc) is hard:

But Rio state Public Safety Director Jose Beltrame, in charge of the city’s armed security forces, did take issue with the 2008 U.N. report, saying critics don’t recognize that his officers must constantly confront drug gangs who rule over slums and are armed with military rifles, grenades and anti-aircraft weapons.

But the police are not judge, jury, and executioner. Having a significant problem with drug lords is absolutely no excuse for this level of wanton brutality. Brazil hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics, and the 2014 World Cup. It’s likely the country will attempt to spruce up its image before these two events, and it can start by cracking down on murders committed by the police.

*Yes, I know most use BRIC. But I don’t see why Russia should be included with the other three at all. Its economy is notoriously inefficient, corrupt, and dependent on export (oil and gas) prices.



Andrew Swift

Andrew Swift is a graduate of the University of Iowa, with a degree in History and Political Science. Long a student of international affairs, he is on an unending quest to understand the world better.