RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s military intervention into Rio de Janeiro’s public security has been an unmitigated success authorities said Thursday during a ceremony marking the completion of the operation, which officially ends Dec.31.
Gen. Walter Souza Braga Netto made the statements after receiving a commendation from Rio’s State Assembly for his work leading the intervention.
“Over the last 10 months, through unending and extraordinary labors, we have reached all the objectives intended to recover the operational capacity of the state’s public security institutions,” Netto said.
President Michel Temer ordered the operation, which put the military in charge of security forces in Rio, on Feb. 16. The intervention was mandated to resolve the “serious impairment of public order” that had plagued the city for months.
At the time of the Temer’s order, Rio’s government would often miss paychecks to a police force that was suffering its highest casualty numbers in years. Meanwhile, arrests of prominent politicians found to be stealing from government coffers shook the public faith in its institutions.
Netto said on being placed in charge of the intervention that his goal was to recover the capability of the state’s security infrastructure and to reduce crime metrics to provide a sense of security to Rio’s public.
The measures enacted put thousands of soldiers in the streets and increased actions against heavily armed drug-trafficking gangs. Intervention forces used armored personnel carriers and helicopters to invade parts of the city considered off-limits to police and entirely controlled by criminal organizations.
Some Brazilians have questioned the effectiveness of the intervention saying it has not helped address underlying issues like unemployment and income inequality. Meanwhile, institutions tasked with monitoring the intervention said their data shows that the reduction in crimes like murders and thefts has come with a spike in police violence.