Weekly Report - 26 May 2022 (WR-22-21)

BRAZIL: High-risk police operations in Rio and São Paulo

Approaches to the Cracolândia problem have followed a cyclical path. Right-wing state governors such as the incumbent, Rodrigo Garcia, of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB), have favoured using force to move the addicts on, coercing them into seeking treatment.

In 2012 the right-wing mayor Gilberto Kassab launched ‘Operation Suffocation’ designed to force addicts out. That and other hard-line initiatives, including the demolition of hotels that provided cheap accommodation to addicts, or their forced transfer to ‘therapeutic communities’ run by Christian churches, have failed to make progress in the battle against addiction.

Nevertheless, Garcia, who is seeking re-election in October, appears to believe evicting addicts will help his chances. According to opinion polls he is trailing in the gubernatorial race behind Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) who, when mayor of the city, developed an alternative ‘Open Arms’ policy, a programme that sought a more humane approach, providing addicts with housing as a first step towards voluntary rather than coercive anti-addiction therapy.

An intriguing aspect of the current situation is that PCC, which is now the dominant criminal group not only in São Paulo but also in the country, may be shifting its position on Cracolândia. According to some sources, the PCC was behind a partial relocation of the drug market to Plaza Princesa Isabel, a few streets away, in March.

  • Relocation

Drug analysts said the PCC wanted a lower profile for crack dealing, which it now considers to be ‘bad b

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