Brazil will establish a public safety ministry to tackle rising crime, President Michel Temer announced on Saturday. The new ministry would have a similar portfolio to the interior ministry.
The ministry will oversee the Federal Police, Federal Highway Police, National Penitentiary Department and the Secretariat of Public Security, which until now have been supervised by the Justice Ministry.
Temer made the announcement after meeting in Rio de Janeiro with military and regional officials over the increasing militarization of security tasks in the state, the country’s top tourism destination.
“We are not going to stop here. Shortly, by next week or the one after at the latest, I want to create the special Ministry of Public Safety, which will coordinate public securityafety nationwide, obviously without interfering with the capacities of each federated state,” Temer told reporters at a press conference.
Also present at the meeting in Rio were several of Temer’s ministers and local authorities such as the mayor of Rio and evangelical pastor Marcelo Crivella, who was missing elsewhere during Carnival – a festival he considers sinful – and traveled to Europe while in the city the scenes of violence went on.
Army patrols were already used in Rio’s gang-ruled favelas, but a decree signed on Friday by Temer now gives the military overall control of security operations in Rio state, which the president said had been virtually seized by organized crime gangs.
The decision to order a military intervention was taken three days after the end of Carnival, the most popular festival in Brazil and particularly in Rio de Janeiro, where this year it was marked by grave acts of violence, even around the popular and well-guarded Sambadrome.
Before ordering the extreme measure, the government had already deployed, halfway through last year, some 10,000 troops to Rio de Janeiro, but with a limited scope of action that was insufficient to bring back peace to what is called “the Marvelous City.”