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‘Good Citizens’ Want Police to Shoot to Kill, Says Rio Governor-Elect Wilson Witzel [INTERVIEW]

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For the original article in Portuguese by Gabriela Goulart, Luiz Ernesto Magalhães, and Selma Schmidt published by O Globo click here.

The server will be monitored. The warning is from Rio de Janeiro governor-elect Wilson Witzel, who announced the creation of an anti-corruption hotline and a compliance service within the State government. Still grappling with the Financial Recovery Plan, for now, he defends maintaining the veto that guarantees the [privatization and] sale of the State Water and Sewerage Utility (CEDAE), as advised by soon-to-be-former governor Luiz Fernando Pezão.

The list includes more plans: to reduce the [sales] Tax on the Circulation of Merchandise and Services (IMCS) for certain sectors (“who knows, perhaps eliminating it”); removing the limit on public service concession periods; and opening roads in Rocinha, resettling displaced residents in buildings in the surrounding area. Witzel has once again defended a police force with the license to kill armed criminals and more firing clubs. A resident of Grajaú, in Rio’s North Zone, Witzel has already reconsidered staying in the neighborhood. Logistics, privacy, and policy (of good neighborliness) are among the reasons: “The neighbors can’t stand it. One passes by and shouts: ‘Marielle!’ Then another passes: ‘Fascist.’ One thing that I am not is a fascist.”

Will you change the Financial Recovery Plan? The last report on the Internet shows that there is R$1 billion (US$250 million) in fraud.

I haven’t had access [to it]. Governor Pezão advised me to keep [the plan]. He said they are working hard to meet the targets. During the campaign, the reports did not seem satisfactory.

During the campaign, you said you would review the agreement.

I can’t take over without an alternative proposal. With data in hand, I will be more comfortable making decisions.

Among the delayed targets is the bidding process for inter-municipal bus lines. Are you planning on it?

Without a doubt, but I’m still not knowledgeable about the model. It will be analyzed by the state attorneys working on the transition.

Beyond the budget deficit, there is an unpaid sum of R$8 billion (US$2 billion).

It was Governor Pezão who told me that the situation was comfortable.

How long will it take you to get Rio de Janeiro out of the financial crisis?

I believe that by 2022, Rio will have full payment capacity. But we have a social security deficit that will not be resolved.

The idea to renegotiate the debt for up to 100 years still stands?

The measures in the Tax Recuperation Plan are proving to be viable. We have a Plan A. Plan B will be to renegotiate the plan. It hasn’t been ruled out.

Are you going to ask Governor Pezão to advance any project of interest to the Rio de Janeiro State Legislative Assembly (ALERJ)?

Extending the State Fund to Combat Poverty. I support vetoing the provision that prohibits the sale of CEDAE. I am going to analyze the possibility of proposing a bill this year to eliminate the 25-year limit on state public service concessions. My idea is that the limit should be defined for each Public-Private Partnership (PPP). We can make various concession agreements. There’s the racetrack

But the new racetrack is a City government project…

It could be the City or the state. Whoever enters into the PPP becomes the business owner. There is also the new Maracanã [stadium] concession: there are contractual demands that were not met, such as demolishing the Célio de Barros Stadium.

Aldeia Maracanã [indigenous village] as well?

I don’t know why they call that Aldeia Maracanã. There is nothing historic there. The economic aspects must be analyzed.

You spoke of giving financial incentives to attract businesses. Can you mention which areas?

Aviation businesses want an ICMS [sales] tax cut. Rio doesn’t have this revenue (from tourism). If we can zero the ICMS rate and schedule flights here, we would generate jobs. I’m going to do an economic study on this.

Does the state have the resources to invest resources in its own infrastructure?

The private sector has the capacity for investment. I’m betting on the Public-Private Partnership model. Starting in January, we will launch several PPPs. We will call companies interested in developing projects. The goal is to do this in 200 days, from the public hearings to signing of contracts. If we manage to do it, we will have new PPPs already in place between October and December 2019. We can implement a toll on the Metropolitan Arch highway, for example.

The Metropolitan Arch was returned to federal management…

I will speak with the president to resume the project—to create a partnership. Likewise, I’m going to speak with Mayor Marcelo Crivella if he wants to substitute the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system with an above-ground metro. There is the question of the ferries and the SuperVia trains: the businesses want to return the service concessions. Our priority is investing in transportation infrastructure.

During the campaign, you talked a lot about the issue of corruption. How will you combat it?

We’re going to create an anti-corruption hotline—and a program to test the server’s integrity. We will have a sector for analyzing signs of external wealth [with regard to positions of public service]. The server will be monitored: if they have an incongruous car, house, or estate, they will have to explain themselves. I’ll invite someone to create a compliance program that will even apply to the governor.

Will there be a Voluntary Resignation Plan?

We have to evaluate the 2019 budget. If not, then certainly in 2020.

Returning to the ICMS tax, an elected Social Liberty Party (PSL, President-elect Bolsonaro’s party) representative wants to propose in the State of Rio de Janeiro’s Legislative Assembly (ALERJ) a reduction or even elimination of the tax on firearms and ammunition. Are you in favor?

I’m not going to give my opinion—I don’t know the impact. But I intend to stimulate the establishment of firing clubs. The population wants to become familiar with guns. The clubs will help demystify the necessity of having guns at home.

Do you own a gun?

I have ten armed security guards taking care of me. I’ve had a gun in the past, but I never needed to use it. I was the victim of a robbery and I didn’t think it was necessary to react.

But would the general population have the same ability to evaluate?

Certainly, with practice. It’s like riding a bike.

You have said that your administration will have targets to meet in four years. What are they for security?

By 2022, I want the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants below double digits (in 2017, it was 40 per 100,000). We will have targets to reduce cargo theft, robberies at commercial establishments, and larceny.

You want to get rid of the State Security Secretary, but this is an agency that exists in every state.

It’s a foreign body in a technical organ. Other states have them but security is junk. The police need to investigate more.

You defend that police should shoot to kill drug dealers, even without provocation. This displeases certain segments of society.

It doesn’t displease good citizens.

How will you prevent this from becoming a stimulus for police misconduct?

A large portion of the police force doesn’t know how to behave due to a lack of training. We are going to create crime-fighting units in each battalion. They will be trained to take guns out of circulation.

Doesn’t this policy encourage police to be more truculent?

Police have to be truculent with criminals. If the criminal has a gun in hand, he must die.

What about Pacifying Police Units (UPPs)?

Some communities have a false sensation that the UPPs provide security. I don’t see adequate operational functionality. There are parts [of these neighborhoods] where police don’t go because there are drug traffickers. I intend to improve on the project. We will seek resources for these communities to become formal neighborhoods. Rocinha is a city in itself…

You said that you plan to widen streets in Rocinha. How? There are alleys and steep inclines—people would have to be evicted.

The project anticipates the construction of buildings in the surrounding area.

In the surrounding area? There is no available space. Are you going to deforest more?

The projects that we want are viable.

You cite Rocinha a lot. Have you been in Rocinha?

I’ve passed by Rocinha but I’ve never entered. But we don’t have to enter to know that it’s really bad.