Urban peripheries in Third World countries have become war zones where states attempt to maintain
order based on the establishment of a sort of "sanitary cordon" to keep the poor isolated from "normal" society.
"Army sources confirmed that techniques employed in the occupation of the Morro da Providéncia favela [slum]
are the ones Brazilian soldiers use in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti."1
This admission by Brazilian armed forces largely explains the interest of Lula da Silva”s government
in keeping that country”s troops on the Caribbean island: to test, in the poor neighborhoods of Haiti”s
capital, Port-au-Prince, containment strategies designed for application in the slums of Rio de Janeiro,
São Paulo, and other large cities.
But the news published by the daily Estadão de São Paulo goes farther in revealing
the military”s modus operandi. The commander of the 9th Motorized Infantry Brigade in Haiti,
William Soares, directed the occupation of Morro da Providéncia by 200 soldiers, who installed
machineguns on "the community”s only plaza, transformed into a military base," which were later
withdrawn in order to facilitate a dialogue with the population. In the meeting with the Residents Association
[Asociación de Pobladores], General Soares "promised projects, a Christmas party with gifts
for the children, a vacation camp, film screenings, medical, and sanitation assistance."
According to the newspaper, "in exchange, the Army is gathering information on the slum and its
inhabitants. Soldiers filmed and photographed the meeting and the entire troop deployment." General
Soares made all those promises in order to "diffuse the revolt by community leaders against the
social project programmed for the slum."
Urban Poor as a Threat
Urban theorist Mike Davis analyzes urban peripheral areas in terms of a commitment to social change.
A single sentence synthesizes his analysis: "It”s the slum peripheries of poor Third World cities
that have become a decisive geopolitical space."2 He asserts
that Pentagon strategists are lending great importance to urban planning theory and architecture, since
the peripheries are "one of the most challenging terrains for future wars and other imperialist
In fact, a study by the United Nations estimates that one billion people live in peripheral neighborhoods
outside Third World cities and that the poor in the largest cities in the world number some two billion,
that is, a third of all human beings. These statistics will double within the next 15 or 20 years, and "all
future growth of the world”s population will occur in cities, 95% of it in cities of the Global South
and the majority in slums."3
The situation is much more serious than the numbers indicate: urbanization, as Davis explains, has
become disconnected and autonomous from industrialization as well as from economic development, which
implies the "structural and permanent disconnection of so many city dwellers from the formal world
economy." On the other hand, he notes that, "over the last decade … the poor—and not just the
poor in classical urban neighborhoods [with high levels of organization]—but … this new poor, on the
fringes of the city, have begun organizing themselves massively … whether that”s Sadr, in Iraq, or an
equivalent slum-based social movement in Buenos Aires."4
In Latin America the main challenges to elite domination have arisen in the heart of poor urban areas—from
the 1989 "Caracazo" riots to the Oaxaca Commune in 2006. Proof of this are the popular uprisings
in Asunción in March 1999, Quito in February 1997 and January 2000, Lima and Cochabamba in April
2000, Buenos Aires in February 2003, and El Alto in October 2003, just to name the most relevant cases.
Even more, urban peripheries are spaces from which subaltern groups have launched the most formidable
challenges to the system, becoming a sort of popular counter-powers. Davis is right: control of the urban
poor is the most important objective planned by governments, global financial organisms, and the armed
forces of the most important countries.
Many large Latin American cities seem to border at times on social explosion, and several have erupted
over the past two decades for various reasons. Fear among the powerful appears to point in two directions:
postpone or make unviable the explosion or insurrection, and, also, avoid the consolidation of those "black
holes" outside state control, where the main challenges to the elites occur.
New Military Strategies
In recent years, publications on military thought as well as analyses by financial organisms have
dedicated ample space to challenges presented by gangs and to debates on new problems arising from urban
war. The concepts of "asymmetrical war" and "fourth generation war" are responses
to problems identical to those created by Third World urban peripheries: the birth of a new type of warfare
against non-state enemies, in which military superiority does not play a decisive role.
William S. Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism of the Free Congress Foundation,
asserts that the state has lost its monopoly on war and elites feel that "dangers" are multiplying. "Almost
everywhere, the state is losing."5 Despite supporting pull-out
from Iraq as soon as possible, Lind defends "total war," which engages enemies on all fronts:
economic, cultural, social, political, communications, and also military.
A good example of this full-spectrum war is his belief that the dangers for United States hegemony
lie in all aspects of daily life, or, if you prefer, in life itself. For example, he believes that "in
Fourth Generation War, invasion by immigration can be at least as dangerous as invasion by a state army." New
problems rooted in the "universal crisis of the legitimacy of the state" have "non-state
enemies" at the center. This leads him to conclude with a double warning to military leaders: no
state military has succeeded against a non-state enemy.
This problem is at the heart of new military modalities of thinking, which must be completely reformulated
to face challenges that used to correspond to "civilian" areas of the state apparatus. Militarization
of society in order to regain control of urban peripheries is not enough, as revealed in recent military
experience in the Third World.
Military commanders deployed in Iraq seem to be clearly aware of the problems they must face. Cavalry
Division Commander General Peter W. Chiarelli, based on his recent experience on the outskirts of Baghdad
in Sadr City, maintains that security is the long-term objective, but it will not be achieved through
military action alone. "Executing traditionally focused combat operations … works, but only for
the short term. In the long term, doing so hinders true progress and, in reality, promotes the growth
of insurgent forces working against campaign objectives."6
This implies that the two traditional armed forces lines of operation—combat and the training of local
security forces—are insufficient. Therefore, three "nontraditional" lines of operation best online casino should
be undertaken; ones that previously corresponded to the government and civil society: essential services
provided to the population, building a legitimate government, and empowering "economic pluralism," that
is, a market economy.
With infrastructure repair projects they attempt to improve the situation of the poorest sector of
the population and, at the same time, create employment opportunities to send visible signs of progress.
In the second place, creating a "democratic" regime is considered an essential point for legitimizing
the whole process. For United States commanders in Iraq, the "point of penetration" of their
troops occurred with the Jan. 30, 2005 elections. In strategic thought democracy was reduced to producing
Finally, the recruitment ability of the insurgents can be reduced through the expansion of market
logic, "by “gentrifying” city centers and creating business parks," that become a dynamic sector
stimulating the rest of society.7 From then on, the poor population
in urban peripheries becomes, in military jargon, "the strategic and operational center of gravity."
This combination of mechanisms is what the major global powers” armed forces today consider the means
to achieve "true long-term security." In this way, "democracy," expansion of services,
and a market economy will cease being citizens” rights or morally desirable objectives and become gears
in a strategy of military control over a population or a region of the world and, of course, its resources.
Security and Cooperation: Two Faces of a Strategy
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) "has played an increasingly prominent role in the War on Terrorism."8 U.S.
development programs are not directed toward the population that most needs them, but rather to the most "at-risk
populations and regions," according to Pentagon strategy.
For military strategists like U.S. Army Colonel (Ret.) Thomas Baltazar, USAID programs "can play
a crucial role in denying terrorists sanctuary and financing by diminishing the underlying conditions
that cause local populations to become vulnerable to terrorist recruitment. Moreover, USAID programs
directed at strengthening effective and legitimate governance are recognized as key tools with which
to address counterinsurgency."
The Pentagon”s strategy is to assure security for the United States, and to this end, it uses "democracy" and "development
assistance" as complements to military operations. The U.S. National Security Strategy maintains
that "development reinforces diplomacy and defense, reducing long-term threats to our national security
by helping to build stable, prosperous, and peaceful societies."9
It seems necessary to emphasize that international cooperation, development aid, and the war against
poverty—some of the favorite slogans of the World Bank and other financial agencies—are merely strategies
to control and subordinate the population that is "potentially" rebellious or resistant to
the objectives of U.S. multinationals. The Pentagon”s analysis of African reality, according to Colonel
Baltazar, identified "the causes of extremism," highlighting among others the existence of "large
marginalized and/or disenfranchised populations, and exclusion from political processes, as key causes
of instability in the region."
Electoral democracy and development are necessary to prevent terrorism, but they are not objectives
in and of themselves. In countries with weak states and high concentrations of urban poor, the armed
forces move to take the place of the sovereign government, reconstruct the state, and in a totally vertical
and authoritarian manner, initiate mechanisms to assure the continuation of domination.
In Iraq, these policies have their obverse and complement in the building of large walls to separate
neighborhoods in Baghdad. According to writer and Arab expert Santiago Alba Rico, the construction of
walls in 10 neighborhoods in the Iraq capital is intended to turn each into "an armored closet whose
inhabitants are filed away or abandoned in locked drawers and sealed enclosures."10
The logic is simple: "Neighborhoods that have not been crushed militarily are walled, enclosed,
and abandoned to their luck. Complete areas of the city have been demarcated and segregated with inhabitants
confined inside, subjected to entry and exit controls so ironclad that we can speak without hesitation
of a ghetto policy."
Other parts of the world are not lacking in cement walls to isolate and separate peripheral neighborhoods.
Symbolic walls are fabricated according to differences in color, dress, and ways of occupying space.
But the results and objectives are identical. Control mechanisms—whether dressed in military garb, or
as NGOs for development, or promoting market economy and electoral democracy—are interlaced and, in extreme
cases like the suburbs of Baghdad, the slums of Rio de Janeiro, or the shanty towns of Port-au-Prince,
they are subordinated to military planning.
In Brazil, to give just one example, different forms of control are simultaneously applied: the "Zero
Hunger" government plan is compatible with the militarization of the slums.
In his reflection on Nazism in "On the Concept of History," German writer Walter Benjamin
declared that "the tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the state of exception in which we
live is the rule." United States policy since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, fits the concept of
a "state of permanent exception." The "state of exception," which suspends civil
rights and militarizes areas and complete nations, is applied in an indiscriminate way to different situations
and for different reasons, from internal political problems to external threats, from an economic emergency
to a natural disaster.
In effect, the state of exception was applied in situations such as the Argentine economic-financial
crisis that burst into a broad social movement in December 2001, the response to Hurricane Katrina in
New Orleans, and the containment of the rebellion by poor immigrants in the peripheries of French cities
in 2005. The common thread, beyond circumstances and countries, is that in every case it is applied in
order to contain the urban poor.
- Dantas, in Estadão (São Paulo).
- Davis, interview.
- Davis, "Mike Davis on a Planet of Slums."
- Davis, interview.
- Lind, 13.
- Chiarelli and Michaelis, 15.
- Chiarelli and Michaelis, 13.
- Baltazar and Kvitashvili, 38.
- Cited in Baltazar and Kvitashvili, 38.
- Alba Rico.
Hollister Pas Cher
ray ban outlet
hollister Deutschland online shopfake ray ban
karen millen outlet
cheap mulberry bags
ray ban outlet
occhiali ray ban
jordan retro 6
christian louboutin pas cher
retro jordan shoes