The impact of the so-called “war on drugs” in Rio de Janeiro affects the population in different ways. The budget of favela residents and traders, who suffer daily from the violence caused by state agents, is significantly affected, reveals the research Favelas in the crosshairs: Impacts of the War on Drugs on the Economy of the Territories, an unprecedented survey by the Center for Security and Citizenship Studies (CESeC).
This is the fourth stage of the “Drugs: How Much It Costs to Prohibit” project, which reinforces the debate on the impacts of prohibition and the war on drugs with unprecedented data and analysis on four work fronts: security and justice, education, health and territory.
At this stage, the research analyzed the favela complexes of Penha and Manguinhos, both in the North zone of the city, and adding the population of the two locations, the estimated annual loss is R$ 14 million for residents as a result of police actions, in addition of R$ 2.5 million in losses for local traders and service providers
The anthropologist and research coordinator at CESeC, Paula Napolião, explains that “people are prevented from going to work when there is a police operation, they have damaged property, their homes are hit by gunfire, businesses close their doors and this It has a cost for society and especially for these residents who are there experiencing this routine of intense shooting.”
“It’s a drug policy that costs the public coffers a lot and is ineffective in what it aims to do, which is to reduce the circulation and sale of drugs in the city”, he emphasizes.
Paula reinforces that this policy to combat drug trafficking is only imposed in favelas, places where the residents are mostly black and poor, but it does not happen in places considered noble.
“These highly lethal police operations leave people dead, including teenagers and children. We see deaths of children and teenagers on the news every day, but it occurs with a certain naturalness because in general people agree and endorse this type of policy. So , this type of routine, extremely violent and lethal situation only happens in favelas, which are predominantly black territories”, he says.
For Sociology professor, Ignacio Cano, one of the research consultants, the way the police act in favelas is not only ineffective in combating drug trafficking, but also harms residents.
“The great irony of all this is because supposedly the police intervene in these areas to dismantle armed groups to free the people who live there, but the way they do it creates insecurity, damage to education, health, economic damage, the impossibility of moving around day to day, going to work, generates a huge cost for people who live in these areas”, he explains.
Ignácio remembers that favela residents are not the only ones affected economically, as the money spent to finance police operations comes from public coffers.
“We are all spending a fortune to maintain this prohibition apparatus, a fortune that could be spent, for example, on prevention and detoxification programs that would have a much clearer benefit for people who have problems with drug abuse”, he concludes.
For this stage of the study, two territories were selected with the highest incidence of shootings resulting from police actions between June 2021 and May 2022, according to data from the Fogo Cruzado Institute.
The research measured the impact of these episodes on the lives of residents and evaluated the effects on traders and service providers in these locations. The two favelas most affected by shootings in both Complexes were selected: Vila Cruzeiro, which recorded eight shootings in the period studied, and Mandela de Pedra, affected by 10 episodes of armed violence, considering a radius of up to 400 meters from the center of the complexes. territories.
Source: BdF Rio de Janeiro
Editing: Jaqueline Deister