terça-feira, 1 de novembro de 2011

LA Times,em 2000,contou minha história,que o drama atual de Freixo reedita

A Case Study in the Power of Brazil's Corrupt Cops

      Monday, June 12, 2000

      A Case Study in the Power of Brazil's Corrupt Cops

       The official who sought to reform the force in Rio de Janeiro state is

      now living in exile in New York.

By SEBASTIAN ROTELLA, Times Staff Writer


            Luiz Eduardo Soares, shown in New York City, accuses Rio's governor

            of dropping reform efforts in favor of political ambitions.

            CARMEN MENDEZ/For The Times

           NEW YORK--A cold spring rain blows through the high-rise canyons,

      making Luiz Eduardo Soares feel even farther from Rio de Janeiro.

           Shoulders hunched in his leather jacket, the bearded 46-year-old

      Brazilian walks the streets hunting for an apartment, rebuilding his life

      in the anonymity of exile. After 15 months leading Brazil's most ambitious

      attempt at police reform in memory, he once again has time to read, write

      and reflect.

           Soares remains first and foremost a scholar, despite his explosive

      accusations against fellow police officials in Rio and his harrowing

      clandestine departure from Brazil in March. He has written eight books and

      has degrees in anthropology, sociology, political science and philosophy.

           When he recounts his odyssey of death threats, wiretapped phones and

      30 bodyguards protecting him from his own officers, he sounds like a

      philosopher-cop. He quotes Holocaust survivor and novelist Primo Levi on

      "the terror of uncertainty" to explain why some inhabitants of Rio's slums

      prefer drug lords to marauding police. He describes the nightmarish

      station-house bureaucracy like this: "If Hegel had been a Brazilian

      policeman, he would have never achieved synthesis. He would still be lost

      in the endless labyrinth of procedures."

           Like many left-leaning Brazilian intellectuals, Soares has dedicated

      his talents to questions of crime and justice. In a region where violence

      and impunity are endemic, the political challenge is reforming renegade

      police forces whose power poses a threat to democracy much as the Latin

      American militaries of decades past did.

           "When we talk about changing the police, we are talking about the

      future of democracy itself," Soares said in a recent interview in a

      restaurant in Manhattan.

           In late 1998, Gov. Anthony Garotinho, a charismatic young politician

      with presidential aspirations, made Soares his point man on justice issues

      in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Soares was to deliver on Garotinho's major

      campaign promise: a law enforcement policy that would be progressive and


           The moment seemed right: a popular politician, a top-notch brain

      trust, a crime rate that had dipped enough to open a window for change.

           In a sadly familiar denouement, however, Soares now accuses the

      governor of allying himself with a gangster cabal of police commanders

      known as "the Rotten Bunch." The governor, who denies the allegations,

      fired Soares as state public security coordinator in March.

           "At first, Garotinho wanted to support the reforms as a whole,"

      Soares said. "But then he realized the best thing would be to have all the

      projects in place but not go forward on them to avoid confrontations with

      the police. His obsession was to be the next president. Everything would

      have to be subordinate to the electoral timetable for 2003."

           If that is true, the governor joined the ranks of politicians in

      other Brazilian states who have capitulated to threats, police strikes and

      rebellions, and even police-induced crime waves. Although Brazil is a

      healthy democracy in many respects, the seeming omnipotence of police

      forces in such political clashes shows that the power of civilian leaders

      has alarming limits.

           "The police in any given state have the power to destabilize, to

      bring the state government to its knees," said independent human rights

      advocate James Cavallaro, until recently the representative of Human

      Rights Watch in Brazil. "It's a form of a coup."

           Debate Where Once There Was None

           Nonetheless, Cavallaro and others say, Soares pushed the issue to the

      forefront of the political debate.

           "He had an incredible year because he created an agenda for police

      which was not there before in terms of very concrete institutional

      changes," said Rubem Cesar Fernandes, a sociologist who founded the

      influential Viva Rio civic coalition with Soares seven years ago.

           The repercussions continue. A special state commission is

      investigating the charges Soares filed in March against top commanders,

      including current chief Rafik Louzada.

           Among the alleged crimes: "selling" lucrative police districts to

      aspiring commanders, taking payoffs from all-powerful drug and gambling

      mafias, releasing criminals in exchange for bribes, and wiretapping.

      Numerous officers have been charged, disciplined or investigated in

      several ongoing probes of the investigative, or "civil," police, which in

      Brazil is separate from the uniformed patrol force.

           In a toughly worded editorial in April, the Jornal do Brasil

      newspaper called for the chief's ouster, declaring, "The governor . . .

      keeps a man in command of the police about whom doubts are accumulating."

           Nonetheless, Gov. Garotinho stands by Chief Louzada. The governor

      insists that the cleanup has not suffered since Soares' departure. While

      giving his former aide credit for designing the reforms, Garotinho says

      Soares was an inexperienced administrator who was not up to the massive

      task of transforming police culture.

           "It is not true that there is any kind of alliance with the so-called

      Rotten Bunch--our government has always, and he knows this, insisted on

      cleaning up the police," Garotinho declared in his written responses to

      questions from The Times. "[Soares] did not have the patience to see the

      reforms become concrete."

           The governor's popularity remains an impressive 71%, down from 78% in

      September. He is 40, a former champion chess player and a member of the

      evangelical Christian community, whose clout is growing in Brazil. His

      undeclared campaign for the presidency is progressing at full steam.

           If he indeed runs for the office, however, his law enforcement woes

      are likely to receive renewed national attention. Critics say the governor

      and Soares failed to recognize that police corruption is integral to a

      profoundly corrupt political structure in the state of Rio, which has a

      population of about 12.5 million.

           "All this was an electoral facade, and Luiz Eduardo allowed himself

      to be the governor's propaganda boy," declared state legislator Helio Luz,

      a 25-year police veteran who was a reformist chief from 1995 to 1997. "The

      Rotten Bunch in the police is not autonomous. In reality, the Rotten Bunch

      is the Brazilian state itself."

           The problems of police in Brazil go back to the force's 19th century

      origins as the palace guard of the emperor, Luz said. Its role ever since

      has been to protect the elite against the masses, he said.

           Recently, the special commission announced it had not turned up

      evidence to implicate or exonerate the officials accused by Soares. The

      probe was extended for 120 days, but complaints that commissioners lack

      basic investigative powers have worsened fears of a whitewash in the


           Although critics suggest Soares was a bookworm overwhelmed by gritty

      realities, the man whom the police called "Professor" comes off as both

      cerebral and streetwise. He has the engaging good humor of a Rio native,

      or Carioca. Only the weariness of his eyes and the relentless flow of his

      ideas hint at the obsessive battles he fought.

           As a student in the 1970s, Soares was active in resistance against

      the military dictatorship. He says his scholarly epiphany came a few years

      ago when he studied with Stanford professor Richard Rorty, a noted


           Soares helped fellow academic Fernandes found Viva Rio in the

      bullet-riddled early '90s, bringing together intellectuals and civic

      leaders who wanted to save the city from lawlessness. They felt the

      political left could no longer either romanticize or ignore crime while

      yearning for enlightened economic policies that would bring peace to the


           The chemistry in early 1998 when Soares met Garotinho, then a

      candidate, was immediate. The two wrote a book on public safety that

      became the centerpiece of the campaign. It was clear from the start of the

      governor's term that Soares was in charge of law enforcement matters,

      though he was officially subordinate to the top official in the

      secretariat of public safety. Soares said he and the governor talked on an

      almost daily basis.

           Crime had declined when the new team took office in January of last

      year. Homicides had dropped 30% from their peak in 1994 but remained

      alarmingly high at 47 per 100,000 inhabitants--about five times the rate

      in Los Angeles.

           The two police forces, which together total about 40,000 officers,

      had veered from attempted reform to old-fashioned militarism. The previous

      public safety chief, a retired army general, scoffed openly at human

      rights groups and paid his officers "bravery" bonuses for shooting

      suspects. Individual police knew a lot about the underworld, sometimes

      because they were in cahoots with crooks, but the institution was in dire

      need of information, analysis and intelligence-gathering.

           The "culture of planning" that Soares introduced mixed common sense

      and ideas based on reforms around the world. Copying a breakthrough in New

      York City, he initiated regular meetings among commanders to analyze

      trends and map strategy. He poured resources into training, technology,

      internal affairs and unprecedented programs to protect women (headed by

      his wife, Barbara, also an academic), blacks, street children and gays.

           Making Stations Less Threatening

           A major innovation was the Delegacia Legal, or "Cool Police Station,"

      program. In Brazilian slang, legal also means "cool." The idea was to make

      civil police stations professional and presentable and therefore less


           Traditionally, a crime victim venturing into a station was likely to

      encounter a hostile, lethargic, perhaps even shirtless detective working

      at a typewriter in a sweaty cavern. The stations invariably echoed with

      the menacing clamor of crammed lockups functioning as miniature prisons.

           Investigations often began a full week after a reported crime. To use

      Soares' word, the 121 stations were an "archipelago" of isolated fiefdoms

      with their own arcane rules and procedures. Commanders were feudal barons

      who got rich negotiating the outcome of cases with suspects and jailhouse

      privileges with inmates, he says.

           Soares decided to overhaul the stations one by one; 40 model stations

      are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. The 64 procedural

      manuals were condensed into six. Hardened inmates were transferred to new

      facilities. University students were hired as receptionists. Computer

      specialists designed a computer grid to connect stations and enable

      centralized monitoring of cases.

           The uniformed police were generally receptive, Soares said, but the

      resistance in the civil police was immediate. The governor backed Soares

      in his first skirmish, dismissing a hostile public safety secretary in

      April of last year.

           Meanwhile, Rio experienced high-profile killings that Soares and his

      advisors suspected were part of a plot to sabotage them. The eight

      slayings appeared to be random, and some--such as a drive-by shooting

      outside a soccer game--seemed designed to cause an uproar. Proving a

      conspiracy, however, was difficult.

           Soares, the father of two college-age daughters, also received

      telephone death threats. In August, Garotinho got a tip that a rogue

      police group was planning a campaign of bloodshed, with Soares and the

      governor as the top targets. Both men beefed up their security details.

           The year-end crime statistics were mixed. Officer-involved shootings

      and bank robberies were down, crimes resulting in death had stayed about

      the same, and street robberies and auto thefts were up.

           Overall, Soares felt vindicated because crime had not worsened

      dramatically amid the sometimes traumatic reorganization. And, he says,

      his team was more honest about statistics, publicizing voluminous data and

      junking a practice of manipulating numbers with categories such as

      "suspicious deaths."

           In December, however, the governor shocked Soares by appointing

      Louzada to run the civil police over his objections that the new chief was

      corrupt. The governor replied that the suspicions were unfounded and that

      the veteran detective had political support and a track record of results,

      Soares said.

           Soares almost resigned, but "I thought it would be irresponsible to

      quit. There was so much work invested, so much hope in the society. I

      thought I could fight back. But from that moment on, the trust was gone

      with the governor."

           The definitive break came soon. Soares clashed publicly with

      Garotinho over a curious case in which a wealthy documentary filmmaker

      paid a youthful drug trafficker to abandon his violent ways and write a

      book about his life. The filmmaker had consulted with Soares and the

      public safety secretary, who both told him the arrangement was legal.

           When the case became public, however, the police investigated the

      filmmaker for aiding a fugitive. The governor announced Soares' dismissal

      on television--without telling him first.

           "A law enforcement authority cannot be tolerant of crime," Garotinho

      told The Times. He said Soares further defied him by taking allegations of

      police corruption directly to prosecutors "before talking to me or the

      security secretary."

           Former Chief Luz doesn't think much of Soares' performance or his

      allegations. But the legislator also scoffs at the governor's public

      justification for the firing, accusing Garotinho of trying to divert

      attention from allegations of corruption linked to gambling mafias.

           "The governor was vulnerable because there are strong indications

      that the [gambling mafias] are involved with the government," Luz said.

      "To avoid becoming more vulnerable, he got rid of Luiz Eduardo."

           Garotinho denies the accusations, calling them "the discourse of

      political adversaries who have no proof."

           Meanwhile, Soares' world closed in on him. His phones were tapped.

      His family was under constant surveillance. An aide was pulled over by

      civil police, provoking an armed confrontation with his bodyguards.

           Soares feared both outright violence and an attempt to smear him or

      his family. He decided to move them to the United States. He left first,

      taking elaborate precautions to throw off his enemies: Without luggage, he

      took a domestic flight to Sao Paulo. Federal police officers dispatched by

      Brazil's justice minister met him on the airport runway and guarded him

      until he boarded a flight to New York.

           Ironically, Soares' departure occurred decades after many of his

      friends and peers had gone into exile to escape Brazil's military regime.

      And his version of exile could be worse: Top Brazilian officials and

      diplomats did their best to help him. The Ford Foundation has funded an

      academic post for him at the Vera Institute of Justice, and he will be a

      visiting scholar at Columbia University, where he will write a book about

      his experience.

           Nonetheless, he and his family had to abandon their lives in Rio. His

      real-world sabbatical from academia was a searing lesson about how power

      works in his homeland.

           "This is what the police do: They investigate political leaders in

      order to control them. They invert the hierarchy," he said. "The only

      strategy is to confront these guys quickly, radically, deeply.

           "The poor people need the police, who are the most concrete

      manifestation of the government. But if there is no change, the poor will

      ultimately prefer the despotism of the drug lords, even while hating them.

      Because at least the traffickers have a code--they have rules. The police

      do not have rules or codes."

      Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times