Hopes regarding a more peaceful world became widely disappointed nearly two decades after the fall of the Berlin wall. While the end of the cold war went along with a significant reduction of inter-state wars, new conflicts and asymmetric threats have emerged over the last decades. Today’s urban violence represents one of these conflicts. Although urban violence presents by no means a new phenomenon, the intensity of these conflicts today has been unprecedented in world history. Cities undergoing political and economic transformations have been particularly affected. Given the longevity and growing rates of violence in many cities of the southern hemisphere, physical violence as a social fact can hardly be regarded as an often proclaimed temporary sideeffect limited to the transformation process. Instead, physical violence has become endemic and contributed to changing patterns of social interaction (McCartney 2007: 17).
This article tackles the very changing governance structures and the inclusion of new actors into the process of re-negotiating power relations in a high crime area of Rio de Janeiro. Specifically, I draw on the influence of international companies to bring about changes in the concept of governing through crime in a neighbourhood of Rio’s West Zone. Like many other areas in the city, the neighbourhood of Jacarepaguá is largely characterized by the absence of an egalitarian system of public security, high levels of violence resulting from rivalries between traffickers and the police within the areas biggest slum called ‘City of God’ as well as robberies and assault attacks on the streets and highways. The latter have risen highly as industries settled and new residential areas began to emerge in the area. As a result, the local population finds itself as much affected in their everyday life as the industries in their day-to-day operations.
However, while appearing to be sheer local on the surface, the root causes for Rio’s changing patterns of governability are far more complex. Concluding from my empirical research in Rio de Janeiro, I argue that the changing concepts of governance shaping Rio’s political, social and geographical landscape today cannot be fully understood without the embeddings of Rio into processes of economic globalization. To enhance this perception, I argue that the urban violence in Rio de Janeiro represents visible reflections of the cities very own critical juncture of globalization.
Among other structural factors, urban violence has largely contributed to the cities economic stagnation over the last years (Osório 2008: 4). According to a recently published study, violence costs the state of Rio de Janeiro between 6,5 and 7,5 of Billion US Dollars annually. This represents approximately eight percent of the state’s GDP. Due to the different forms of crimes in Rio de Janeiro and the absence of a functioning system of public security, violence represents the main concern of CEO’s running the biggest companies in the state (PWC/O Globo 2007). Gang related fights and robberies inand outside company facilities have kept employers from getting to work, caused fabrication deadlock, keep qualified workers from accepting jobs in certain areas and prevented potential customers from entering business negotiations with companies located in certain parts of Rio (Carvalho 2007: 34).
But how do companies as key actors in globalization contribute to changing governance structures and the upholding of the geographically visible and culturally perceivable walls which separate the local population into socially in- and excluded parts of the Brazilian society? To answer this question one has to consider the security interests of companies operating in Rio as well as their political influence and bargaining power in order to steer the course of events according to their own interests. As Collier pointed out, the uncertainty resulting from physical violence reduces the time horizon and willingness of actors to obey contracts (Collier 1999: 8). As the formal market depends on long-term planning reliability in order to prevent financial and reputational loses from occurring, some companies have left the state or have settled in other partsof the city’s metropolitan region. Certain formally industrialized regions have been cleared out entirely as a direct consequence of growing violence (OGlobo 08/05). However, due to Rio’s topography, companies relocating their production sites within the City find themselves soon to be confronted with similar security problems in other neighbourhoods as well. The increase of shanty town areas (largely characterized by the absence of the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force) play an important role in the process of generating violence. With an increase of 204.358,3 m² of Rio’s overall slum expansion of 250.279 m² between 2002 and 2007, the administration district of Jacarepaguá accounted for the biggest territorial growth of shanty towns (FIRJAN 2007: 6). Given these characteristics of Rio’s urban development, most companies in Jacarepaguá today are surrounded by slums. In order to secure their operations, local industries have started to manage their own business space and contributed to the overall trend to privatise security.
During my empirical research, I identified three main pillars of security measures individually and collectively carried out by the ocal industries in order to govern through crime in the area’s complex security environment.
Situational crime prevention (SCP) represents the first and most classic form of governing through crime. While required for insurance purposes from almost all major companies worldwide, alarms, electric fences, CCTV, motion detectors and other means of situational protection inside companies have been installed by all companies interviewed in order to prevent theft and industrial espionage from company personnel as well as robberies and break-ins by external actors.
A second and individually taken security approach by most companies located in the area focuses on the employment of a comparatively small amount of inhabitants from surrounding shanty towns for lower skilled work assignments. Due to the fear of potentially falling victim to planned robberies by local people, a major concern of social project representatives and Favela administrations constantly revealed during my research was that slum inhabitants are being stigmatized as a major risk factor to business continuity. Among others, this ‘profile-based exclusion’ (Shearing et al. 2000: 88) represents a continuation of Lemgruber’s analysis according to which shanty town populations are undergoing a learning process of widely being considered a potential threat and excluded from the Brazilian society due to their place of residence (Lemgruber 2003: 55). Members of social projects and Favela administrations uphold the complaint that workers from other parts of Rio were employed and brought to work in the area instead of creating close relations with local communities. As proven in other parts of Rio however, the employment of local people from and financial investments in neighbouring shanty towns has largely improved the security situation and lowered the costs of private security.
A third pillar refers to a collective attempt by the local industries to govern through crime. Brazil’s biggest TV station (whose production studios are located in the area) as well as pharmaceutical companies initiated a concerted monthly security meeting. Under the auspices of the local association of commerce (ACIJA), the companies’ security managers, all branches of the local police, the fire and sanitarian department get together in order to negotiate measures to reduce the risk of falling victim to crimes. Considering the lack of resources by the police forces in Rio, local companies provide the police a certain amount of money to help with car acquirement and maintenance. In exchange of resources between companies and the police, the industries upgrade their own sphere of influence in the local security governance structure by primarily determining the discourse about necessary improvements within the meetings. On the other hand, interviews with company risk managers have also proven the transfer of money contributed by the companies to ACIJA via so called security consulting companies to local milícias. The relatively new phenomenon of milícias represents one of fundamental changes in the organisational principles of Rio’s urban governability. These paramilitary organized groups primarily consist of off-duty policemen and fire-fighters. While actively fighting drug dealers and keeping the streets around company and residential areas free from robbers if being paid to do so, militias continue to occupy local shanty towns previously dominated by one of Rio’s drug factions. However, considering that 65 percent of the City’s urban areas today occupied by militias have not formally been under the control of other oppressive forces, milícias have established themselves as the biggest contractors for illegal private security in the City of Rio de Janeiro. Similar to shanty towns dominated by drug factions, milícias occupy and implement restrict codes of conducts within communities. Unlike drug factions however, milícias extort monthly security fees from every citizen and shop owner inside the slums. Furthermore, milítias control other financially lucrative sources. These groups illegally gained control over alternative means of public transportation, control the distribution of gas bottles, the reception and distribution of TV signals and started to run (child-) prostitution rings within the poor communities. However, in sharp contrast to drug factions, their sphere of influence is not limited to the local slums but unfolds over residential and commercial areas alike. The milítias’ involvement in the area’s real estate speculation turned into a highly profitable business (Freixo 2008). Even more disturbing, however, appears to be the close connection with politicians who use milícias in order to gain the votes of shanty town residents during state and federal elections. Furthermore, as milícias primarily consist of policemen, investigations by the police against their illegal actions remain rare despite the implementation of parliamentary commissions of inquiry and being a prime focus of news media coverage in Rio, today. As a result, militias have contributed to a politicaleconomic change of violence within Rio (Souza Alves 2008: 33). The neighbourhood of Jacarepaguá emerged as a stronghold of these paramilitary organized groups. Due to the active involvement of policemen and influential support from politicians, the sphere between public and illegal becomes increasingly blurred in Rio de Janeiro.
Companies represent the biggest single financial contributors to milícias in Jacarepaguá. As robberies inside company facilities, attacks on workers and company vehicles have dropped tremendously, some company security personnel emphasised satisfaction about the milícias existence. However, the financing of militias strongly contributes to their growing power and influence within the region. Considering Rio’s economic downturn over the last decades, keeping companies in Rio appears to be the prime concern of the state government and the police officials. Through their actions, companies do not only ignore international codes of conducts and principles of the UN Global Compact when it comes to generating their own security. As I will show elsewhere (forthcoming dissertation) the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) methods offered by the local industries are inappropriate to enhance the strongly needed citizenship building and the creation of human security within the area. While security is more and more becoming a private and tailor-made service available to those capable to afford it, shanty town inhabitants on the other side of the company walls are increasingly suffering from the repressive methods installed by local milítias. Under the given circumstances, those historically excluded from most spheres of the Brazilian society are once again suffering the most from the demonstrated patterns of generating security by globally operating private international actors.
1 Under the given and highly inefficient public security structure, the provision of private security has turned into one of the City’s fastest growing service sectors. Between 2002 and 2007, private enterprises located in the State of Rio de Janeiro alone spent officially 11, 96 Billion Dollars (28,7 Billion Brazilian R$) on private security (Fécomercio-RJ 04/08).
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