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Understanding Homicide Drop in São Paulo Municipality – 2000-2010

Since the 80’s Brazil is recognized as a highly violent country, with second highest homicide mortality (HMR) rate in American region at the end of the 1990’s and the fourth in 2012, according to UNODOC. In Brazil, São Paulo State Capital presented in 1999 the second highest HMR, 66,7/100.000 inhabitants. In the Young (15 to 24 years-old) male population HMR was in the order of 115,8/100.000 in the same year. Since 2000 we are facing a very strong drop in Homicide in São Paulo municipality: the number of death fell from 5.979/year in 2000 to 1.557/year in 2010 and HMR reached the lowest value, 15,6/100.000. Our objective is to describe such fall and explore some of the possible explanations, considering the perceptions of those living or working in areas traditionally presenting very high HMR. Considering the whole municipality HMR fell in both sex and all age groups and in 89 of the 96 administrative regions. Higher drops were found at the male and youth groups and in peripheral poor areas. Most part of those interviewed perceived a reduction in homicide levels. Despite the fact that we could not find a consensual view, among the factors considered as possible explanation are the amelioration of living condition, presence of social movements and NGOs, police action and the consolidation of organized crime. The image of a “bomb that can explode” was quite common, what reflect both the negative perception and lack of confidence in the police and the recognition of the strong presence of organized crime acting in the mediation of conflicts through the institution of new local rules. It seems that in São Paulo, despite the fact that HMR fell drastically, this does not reflect a real pacification of social interaction or the support to human rights and rule of law.