The Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A record 63,880 people were slain in Brazil last year, according to a report released Thursday, a grim milestone that underscores deteriorating security in Latin America’s largest nation on the eve of a presidential election.
Brazil has long been the world leader in overall homicide numbers, and its homicide rate is also one of the highest. But security groups are raising alarms about the continued rise in killings — 61,597 homicides in 2016 after several years below 60,000.
The surge in violence has made public security a major concern for Brazilians. “I’m terrified to leave the house alone,” said Maria Jacemar Ugulinho, a 60-year-old administrative manager in Rio. “Three of my nephews already moved abroad to flee the violence.”
The Brazilian Public Security Forum, an independent organization that tracks national crime statistics and produced the report, said organized crime is one of the reasons the rate keeps growing.
But it added that increasingly violent police operations also play an important role. Those operations come as authorities seek to confront drug gangs and other criminal organizations that control many of Brazil’s favelas, slums with limited public services.