One of the biggest concerns facing any visitor to Rio is how safe the city is. Is Rio dangerous for tourists? is a question we receive often, and we’d like to present some information to help put minds at ease.
Due to a few highly popular films glorifying violence in Rio de Janeiro, such as City of God and Elite Troop (Tropa de Elite) people from outside of Brazil have developed a sense that Rio is a lawless city and danger awaits around every corner.
In the past Rio’s security forces suffered underfunding for many years and the poorly resourced police did not have the ability to control certain areas of the city. With increasing foreign investment, not to mention Brazil’s rapidly growing economy, the government is finally tackling the issues and has made the city safer than it’s ever been.
Yes, Rio did have a problem for some years with drug gangs controlling the favelas (slums) ans these problems would often spill into other areas, and would sometimes affect tourists. But there is a large co-ordinated effort to clean up the city ahead of big events such as the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games. Because of these efforts, the crime rate in the city has fallen dramatically.
Among the proudest boasts of the programme organisers is the sharp decline in shootings. In 2009, there were 769 recorded in Copacabana. Last year, this fell to zero.
Rio’s murder rate has halved in the past decade. In the Alemão district – long notorious as a Red Command headquarters – shootings have fallen to seven a day. If that still seems staggering, compare it with the more than 150 cases a day in 2009.
“The pacification policy is really reducing lethal violence,” said Ignacio Cano, of Rio de Janeiro State University. “It has had a major impact on the people who live in those areas.”