Brazilian army general tapped to take over law enforcement in Rio de Janeiro
26 February 2018
Last Friday, February 16, Brazilian president Michel Temer (MDB) decreed a federal intervention in the law enforcement system of Rio de Janeiro, expected to last until the end of this year. Tapped to lead the intervention is Army General Walter Souza Braga Netto, who has been given absolute powers over the state’s civil (investigations) and military (patrolling) police forces and prison system, empowered to overrule any decisions by elected officials, including the governor and mayors, and even to change law enforcement agencies’ internal regulations.
Gen. Braga Netto is the commander of the Eastern military division in Brazil, which includes Rio, and was responsible for the military operations in Rio de Janeiro during the Summer Olympics in 2016. With the military intervention, Rio de Janeiro’s law enforcement secretary, Roberto Sá, resigned on the same day. It is the first time since the promulgation of the 1988 Constitution that such an ostensibly legal federal intervention has been triggered and the first time since the end of the Brazilian military dictatorship in 1985 that an Army General has assumed a civil position.
The immediate pretext for the military intervention was a combination of armed conflicts between the drug trafficking factions and the police and the wave of robberies and assaults on tourists and residents of the city of Rio de Janeiro during the world-famous Carnival, a period in which the city receives more than 1 million tourists and street parties are estimated to attract 6 million.
Moreover, Folha de São Paulo estimated on February 17 that violent crime in Rio was back at the level that existed before the high-profile…