27 December, 2015

City of Fear | Vanity Fair

City of Fear | Vanity Fair: "The day after the attacks suddenly stopped, word spread through São Paulo that the state had agreed to provide the P.C.C. with 60 flat-screen televisions for enhanced viewing of the upcoming World Cup soccer matches. A prison official later told me that the televisions in question already belonged to the P.C.C., that they were part of a hijacked load, and that the P.C.C. had wanted—and now received—the right to bring them in as a jailhouse boast. And okay, in Brazil soccer really does matter. But no such petty purpose can explain an assault on an entire city, nor can superficial political theories, of which there are several. Clearly, something much larger was going on. What is certain is that the assault was a demonstration of strength, an act of self-affirmation, and a measured blow against the rule of law. Some of the attacks were so brazen as to be nearly suicidal. The point being made was not that they could be carried out, but that they could be sustained. The lack of serious demands added a vicious twist. It denied the government the power even to concede, and allowed the P.C.C. to script the drama from beginning to end. Moreover, because the P.C.C. leaders were already in prison, they had little to fear of punishment. They could taunt the state from within the very walls it had built to contain them. Ah, the art of war.


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