Rio’s favelas are not good for the Brazilian army. Conflict resolution is not the strong suit of soldiers, says Jorge da Silva, a political scientist, who is also an Army reserve colonel with experience in the Military Police and as a state secretary for Human Rights (2003-06).
That is the reason, he says, that prolonged duty in Rio de Janeiro slums, as part of the government program to take the slums back from drug lords, known as UPPs, is doing harm to the Army’s image.
According to Silva, there are serious problems between local residents and soldiers. The Army, Silva points out, was called up to take part in the UPP in a mission that was supposed to end this year, but has now been extended to June 2012.
Silva says he is skeptical about the real value of soldiers in slums. Born and raised in the area known as Complexo do Alemão where soldiers and inhabitants had misunderstandings last week that turned into open conflict and then riots, Silva says soldiers are simply not trained for mediation.
“Mediation is not the job of the Army. Sending troops into a situation like this is only going to compromise the authority of the troops and tarnish the image of the Army as an institution. What they are being asked to do in just not in the nature of soldiers,” said the former secretary who is now a professor of public order, police and human rights at the Rio de Janeiro State University (“UERJ”).
“The key to pacification of communities is mediation. The Military Police should do this job, but they see themselves as a military force. Up there in the Complexo do Alemão, the task is to mediate and administer conflicts. When you think of the Army you think in terms of war where the logic is to settle matters with force. The police cannot operate under those terms. Rather than a military model, they must follow a mediation model.”
Jorge da Silva says he is not happy with soldiers from the Armed Forces in slum areas because they are not trained for that kind of work. “Police are not soldiers. Soldiers are not police. When you try to turn a soldier into a policeman, it will turn out wrong. That is what is happening,” he concluded.
Salaries Above Limit
The Chief Justice of a federal Appeals Court, Olindo Menezes, after permitting the Senate to pay salaries above the constitutional limit of 26,700 reais (the salary of a Supreme Court justice), has ruled that the Chamber of Deputies can also do so.
The salaries in question, known as the super-salaries, are paid to certain civil servants who work in the legislative branch and some members of the legislative branch.
Menezes ruled that by not paying those civil servants what he saw as salaries they were entitled to, “…the continuity and efficiency of public services provided by the Chamber of Deputies were at risk.”
The judge went on to say that a prior ruling against the payment “…imposes grave remunerative restrictions… and should not be included in calculations as to the constitutional limit. Doing so is clearly an assault on the public order.”
The ruling by Menezes can be appealed. However, until a final decision is made, the Menezes ruling prevails.
Getting Ready for Turkey
Brazil’s Foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, traveled last week to Turkey where president Dilma Rousseff is scheduled to arrive in October. Turkey has become a central player in the crisis-ridden Middle East having joined Brazil in an unsuccessful bid to resolve the Iranian nuclear program last year.
Bilateral Brazil-Turkey trade reached over US$ 1.5 billion in the first half of this year and is growing strongly. The two countries’ trade is concentrated in chemicals, home appliances and auto parts.
While in Ankara, Patriota should meet with the president of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, and the minister of Foreign Relations, Ahmet Davutoglu.
It is believed that Dilma will travel from Turkey to Bulgaria, the country her father came from and where she has some long lost relatives.
Dilma’s next international trip will be to the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week where Brazil is traditionally the first nation to address the opening session.
According to Itamaraty, Dilma intends to finish visiting all the countries in South America before the end of the year.