Public Security and the Fate of Brazil’s Democracy


Monday, November 25, 2019, 12:00pm


CGIS South, S030

Swat Team in Brazilian Favela

Speaker: Ilona Szabó de Carvalho, Cofounder and Executive Director, Igarapé Intitute

Moderator: Washington Fajardo, Architect and Urbanist; DRCLAS Visiting Researcher

Brazil is the world's most homicidal country. Over 65,000 people were murdered in 2017 and more than 6,000 citizens were killed by police in 2018. A significant proportion of Brazilians are also victimized, which undermines their faith in the legitimacy of the rule of law and democratic institutions. This presentation will highlight the scope and scale of Brazil's public security crisis, the dangers of excessively repressive responses,  and the threats this poses to democracy.

Ilona Szabó de Carvalho is a civic entrepreneur, cofounder and executive-director of the Igarapé Institute – a leading think and do tank on security, justice and development issues in the Global South, and cofounder of the Agora Movement. She was the executive coordinator of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and previously coordinated the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy. She earned a Master’s Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Uppsala in Sweden.

Ilona was nominated a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in 2015. She is the co-script writer of the documentary Quebrando o Tabu (Breaking the Taboo), author of the books Drogas: as histórias que não te contaram (Drugs: the untold stories) and Segurança Pública para Virar o Jogo (Public Safety to change the game), published by Zahar in 2017 and 2018.   She is also a columnist at Folha de S. Paulo and a TV comentator. 

As president of the Rio World Heritage Institute and the Mayor’s Special Advisor for Urban Issues from 2009 to 2016, Washington Fajardo created policies and finance solutions to preserve heritage, regenerate buildings and places, and improve public services in Rio de Janeiro. His innovative initiatives revived cultural heritage in the city’s waterfront renewal and supported private owners to rehabilitate historic buildings.

Now, as he pursues architectural design and planning activities in his studio DEBR, he is developing a new “urban agency,” a mix of “do-tank” and investigation and problem solving lab at the intersection of academia, city government, and community. Fajardo created the Carioca Design Center and the African Heritage Historical and Archaeological Trail. He has won awards for Ver-O-Peso urban renewal in Belém in the Amazon Region, Pavuna Carioca Arena, and the New Imperator, an old movie theater converted to a multipurpose cultural center. His weekly column about urban issues appears in O Globo newspaper.