After four days of organized gang attacks and a ferocious police backlash with a primary death toll of 115, including 49 police officers, the Brazilian state of São Paulo seemed on Wednesday, May 17, to be returning to normal.
Transport and other services in Sao Paulo city have been restored but authorities are continuing to arrest hundreds of suspects as they pursue organized gang members in road blocks and ID checks.
Apparently the four days of violence were ordered by gang leaders inside the jail system in retaliation for their transfer last Friday to a maximum security prison, hundreds of kilometers from the city and with all cell phones confiscated.
The most notorious of the gangs is the First Command of the Capital (PCC, Primeiro Comando da Capital), which has organized armed attacks of this kind but never to the extent of paralyzing South America’s largest industrial city.
On Monday, May 15, attacks on police stations, banks, buses and places where police officers hang out left the city without transport and virtually empty. The whole operation was coordinated with simultaneous uprisings in more than 70 of the state’s penitentiaries plus taking over 200 hostages.
The four days situation exposed one of Brazil’s most dramatic sides: insecurity, corruption in police cadres and a general lack of law and order.
According to a public opinion poll published Wednesday, a majority of São Paulo residents blame the Judiciary and President Lula da Silva for the public security crisis and attacks by organized gangs.
The survey shows that 55% feel the Judiciary is to blame for the situation followed by Lula da Silva with 39%. Former São Paulo governor and currently candidate for the coming October presidential election, Geraldo Alckmin is blamed by 37% of interviews and his successor in the post Claudio Lembo, 30%.
However, 46% of the interviewees admit that President Lula’s administration is committed to improving the situation; 32% that enough is not been done to combat crime and 17% that there’s a full effort by the federal government.
A majority said that Governor Lembo’s reaction was dreadful; 25% insufficient and 12% excellent.
Furthermore an, overwhelming 65% believe that the government struck a deal with the PCC gang chief which helps to understand the fall in attacks against the police.
Governor Lembo rejected the allegations published in the São Paulo press saying there would be "no concessions to criminals."
When asked if the government did right in dealing with the PCC gang, 21% approved, 42% were against.
The opinion poll showed that 46% of Sao Paulo City’s population remains very scared; 33% a bit scared and 21% said they were not scared. City residents fear more the criminals, 57%, than the police forces, 18%, although 18% equally fear both sides.
Mercopress – www.mercopress.com