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PBS, August 29, 2006

Kidnappings Little Hope for Sao Paulo
São Paulo, Brazil -- the third largest city in the world -- was recently named Latin America's "best business city" by the LATIN BUSINESS CHRONICLE. And so agree São Paulo's criminals specialized in kidnapping for profit. Indeed, extortion through kidnappings (or "economic kidnappings") has become a constant presence in the daily routine of paulistas, as the citizens of São Paulo are called. In fact, statistics on kidnappings show Brazil behind only Colombia and Mexico in terms of the number of reported kidnappings. And considering that the security situation in Colombia has improved remarkably over the last few years, it's likely that Brazil will soon occupy second place. According to official 2005 reports, 133 kidnapping cases were recorded in the State of São Paulo, with over half of these occurring in the capital. Thus far, 2006 shows no improvement. Some may argue that these numbers pale in relation to the 3,510 violent homicides recorded during this same period in the state. However, as the residents of São Paulo know, kidnappings pose a particular menace that deeply affects the psyche and creates a sense of insecurity comparable only to terrorist threats.



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