“Violence Atlas” reveals homicide rate in Brazil up 4.2%

Over 65 thousand murders were reported in 2017 countrywide

Published in 05/06/2019 - 17:23 By Vinicius Lisboa - Rio de Janeiro

Brazil’s homicide rate increased 4.2 percent from 2016 to 2017, settting a new record with 31.6 deaths in every 100 thousand people, as per figures from the Violence Atlas 2019, released today (Jun 5) by the government’s Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) and the Brazilian Forum for Public Security. In absolute terms, killings totaled 65,602 in 2017—up 4.9 percent from 2016.

The indicator was pulled up by the growth in crimes committed in the North and Northeast, where the rate went beyond 45 murders for every 100 thousand  people.

Ipea President Carlos Von Doellinger said the study shows alarming trends on violence in Brazil. An economist, he noted that violence also raises the country’s production costs. Violence, he argued, led to public and private costs adding up to 5.9 percent of the Brazilian gross domestic product in 2016.

“This is impressive and shows the burden we have to bear,” Doelling argued, adding that, in addition to discussing taxation and red tape in production, violence should be taken into account. “It’s a more cruel side to the matter,” he noted.

North and Northeast

The study names disputes among criminal organizations based in the Southeast as one of the possible factors behind the increased violence in the North and Northeast. Two major criminal organizations in Rio and São Paulo seek control over local retail markets of illicit substances in the North and Northeast, as well as over drug trafficking routes.

Samira Bueno, executive director with the Brazilian Forum for Public Security, said that Brazil is geographically wedged between cocaine producing countries—Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia—and the markets of Africa and Europe. In order to gain control of this route, rings in the Southeast forge ties with local gangs in the North and the Northeast.

“This is also seen in the efforts to strengthen criminal organizations at local level. They start connecting with local rings because [local rings] know the routes.”

In the period surveyed, five of the 27 states saw a reduction in the homicide rate and 12 experienced an increase—in seven of them, the surge surpassed ten percent.

The document mentions two distinct movements: a reduction in the homicide rate in states like São Paulo, Paraná, and Minas Gerais, and an increase in the North and the Northeast, chiefly in the state of Ceará—where the rate rose 48.2 percent in the time span covered by the study. The state reported 5,433 homicides in 2017, whereas São Paulo saw it sink to 4,631.

Young people

The young population (15–29 years old) was the main victim of homicides in Brazil: 35,783 killed in 2017, 94.4 percent of them male. Nearly 70 youths were killed in every 100 thousand people.

In nine states, the rate goes above 100 deaths for 100 thousand people: Rio Grande do Norte (152.3), Ceará (140.2), Pernambuco (133), Alagoas (128.6), Acre (126.3), Sergipe (125.5), Bahia (119.8), Pará (105.3), and Amapá (100.2).

Ceará was also reported to have the highest growth in the rate among youths—up 60 percent.

Murder were the cause of 51.8 percent of deaths among people aged 15 through 19 years old. Among 20–24-year-olds, the indicator stands at 49.4 percent, compared to 38.6 percent for people aged 25 through 29.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Juliana Andrade / Nira Foser

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