SAO PAULO - With an average of 14 murders a day over the past 18 months, the southeastern Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has a bona fide violence problem. In the first six months of the year, the number of homicides was 8% higher across the region than the first six months of 2011.
And notably in the city of Sao Paulo, the state capital and the largest city in South America with a population of 11 million, the murder rate rose by 22%. In June alone, 434 people were murdered, the highest total of the past year.
Criminality in general is on the rise. There were 18% more rapes than last year, representing 966 more cases.
Last week, when talking about the murder of Tommaso Lotto, a young Italian man looking for work in Sao Paulo, the state Secretary of Public Security, Antonio Ferreira Pinto, talked about a "rising tide of violence." Meanwhile, the state Governor Geraldo Alckmin assured his constituents that he had no doubt that this crime wave would soon be over.
During the month of June, eight off-duty police officials were slain in what authorities believe is a concerted campaign by the PCC (First Command of the Capital), a criminal organization and prison gang well known in Sao Paulo for drug dealing and other crimes. Five police bases and 15 buses were also burned. In 2006 the PCC was allegedly behind a wave of 299 attacks against police stations, public offices and buses.
The rise in homicide rate also affects 38 towns, which are part of Sao Paulo's metropolitan area. In these towns, there were 55% more people killed in June this year than in June 2011.
Read the article in Portuguese.