Between Curfews and Confrontations: Coronavirus Criminal Crisis Management in Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas
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From February 2020, the world has been facing a new challenge: Covid-19 pandemic. As states and international organizations prepared to face such crisis, so did criminal organizations around the world. This thesis focuses on how the criminal organization ‘Comando Vermelho’ in Rio de Janeiro faced the crisis, implementing a new array of service provision practices to meet the needs of the residents, and how its ‘crisis management’ plan impacted the overall relationship between the criminal group, the state and the citizens of the favelas. Through applying concepts of hybrid and criminal governance literature, this thesis finds that the relationship dynamics did not change dramatically, as criminal orders existed and were operating effectively long before Covid-19 pandemic reached Brazil. The crisis re-enacted old dynamics, providing however a wider array of practices criminal orders can exploit to grow their legitimacy at the expense of state legitimacy. Criminal orders did so through implement clear security instructions to protect citizens from the virus and promptly providing health services. This is likely to erode state legitimacy quicker than if no crisis was present as citizens needs are intensified. Ultimately, this thesis is in accordance with Leeds (1996) in that it finds that are state’s structural shortcomings that leave open possibilities for criminal groups such as Comando Vermelho to implement effective governance systems and crisis management plans in the neglected areas of the city.