For all of Brazil's efforts to reduce poverty-and its progress-the favelas in Rio de Janeiro still house one-third of the city's poor, and violence permeates every aspect of the city. As urban drug gangs and police wage war in the streets, favela residents who are especially vulnerable live in fear of being caught in the crossfire. Politicians, human rights activists, and security authorities have been working to minimize the social and economic problems at the root of this "war."
Living in the Crossfire presents impassioned testimony from officials, residents, and others in response to the ongoing crisis. Maria Helena Moreira Alves and Philip Evanson provide vivid accounts from grieving mothers and members of the police working to stop the war and, among officials, from Brazil's President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, who discusses his efforts to improve public security.
Based on extensive research into opposition and government documents, including the previously unavailable Manual Básico da Escola de Guerra, Maria Helena Moreira Alves provides a rich description of the long and tortuous attempt by the Brazilian military government to create a workable “national security state” in the face of determined and resilient opposition. She interviewed more than one hundred key figures in government, the military, business, professional associations, the Catholic church, grassroots organizations, and trade unions in order to analyze politically and historically the relationship between civil society and government structures in Brazil during the years 1964–1983. Her study charts the rise and subsequent decline of the military government’s power, concluding with a discussion of the abertura policy instituted under General João Batista Figueiredo.