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Brazzil - Crime - April 2004

In Brazil, 82 Murders a Day, for 20 Years

New numbers released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography
and Statistics (IBGE) show that violence in Brazil grew 130
percent in 20 years. Between 1980 and 2000 there were close
to 600 thousand murders. The country's precarious health
care system contributed to the high number of deaths.

Rafael Gasparotto

Brazzil Picture Violence grew 130 percent in Brazil between 1980 and 2000, chiefly striking young people between 15 and 24 years old. During this period, nearly 600 thousand murders occurred in Brazil or 82 murders every day of the year.. Whereas in the decade of the '80's traffic accidents were the main cause of violent deaths among males, in the '90's murders led the statistics. These data are contained in the Synthesis of Social Indicators, released Monday by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

For the president of the IBGE, José Eduardo Nunes, the causes of violence are related to poverty and joblessness. According to Nunes, poverty and violence render the young population vulnerable. "If a young person has no chance to work and lacks decent living conditions and access to a series of public services, he will become part of a vulnerable group," he affirmed.

Between 1980 and 2000, murders of people in the 15-24 age bracket increased 54 percent in Pernambuco, 51 percent in Rio, 46 percent in Espírito Santo, and 42 percent in São Paulo. The study shows that the care provided by the Unified Public Health System (SUS) for victims of violence is precarious, which contributes to the number of deaths.

The situation is most critical in the North, where there are only 4.7 hospital beds for every 100 thousand victims. In the Northeast the figure is 5.8 per 100 thousand; in the South, 13 per 100 thousand; in the Center-West, 10.6 per 100 thousand; and in the Southeast, 10.5 per 100 thousand.

Big Divide

Brazil has made progress in some areas, but it remains a country with a vast divide between the country's regions and the rich and the poor. That is the result of the latest Household Survey (PNAD) for 2002 by the government statistical bureau (IBGE), says Ana Lucia Sabóia who heads the IBGE Division of Social Indicators.

The survey found that more people have access to education and healthcare, with the result that there is less illiteracy and lower birth and infant mortality rates. And there are now more older people in Brazil than ever before.

However, there are reasons for concern. Twenty percent of all children born in 2002 had mothers who were less than 20 years old, which has a negative impact on schooling. There was also a sharp rise—95 percent—in deaths from firearms among young people between the ages of 15 and 24.


According to the PNAD 2002, satisfactory water services are available in almost 90 percent of Brazilian homes in urban centers. In the Southeast and South that number rises to over 94 percent. But when the North region is examined, old regional disparities become apparent: only 56.4 percent of homes there have adequate water services.

As might be expected, the slums of Rio de Janeiro are a disaster area in the middle of the Southeast region. Metropolitan Rio has some 335,000 homes without adequate water supplies. That translates into around one million inhabitants without a safe source of water.

Márcio Cunha, a sociologist and urban planner with the IBGE, says the problem remains a lack of investment in basic sanitation in Brazil's urban centers. All the big metropolitan regions have problems similar to those in Rio, he says.

The PNAD survey takes place annually and visits 110,000 homes in all parts of the country except the rural areas of the North region.

Poverty Reduction

The World Bank (IBRD) is conducting meetings with representatives of Brazilian companies and the government to discuss topics such as poverty reduction, economic growth, and social development, which will be debated on the distance education Global Development Learning Network (GDLN).

The GDLN uses videoconferences to share information in various areas for the purpose of promoting socio-economic development, with an emphasis on human resource training. The network, which began 4 years ago, has been functioning in Brazil since November, 2002. Last year 100 events were promoted in the country by the network.

"The main goal is to optimize our activities as a network in the country and to discuss the activities that our institutional partners have been developing in the area of distance training with a focus on local development," says Fernando Félix, coordinator of the network in Brazil.

Rafael Gasparotto works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at

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