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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Twenty thousand members of the country’s Armed Forces and public safety institutions will provide security during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development on June 13-22.
Unlike 20 years ago, when Brazil hosted Eco-92, the threat to the expected 116 participating heads of state is no longer attacks by drug traffickers, as cybercrime will be the main security focus during Rio+20.
“Rio has changed,” was the assessment made at a recent press conference by Gen. Adriano Pereira Júnior, head of Brazil’s Eastern Military Command and security coordinator for the Rio+20 conference. “Nowadays, crime has been reduced, so the need for policing has also been reduced. Cybercrime is the new threat and it is crucial we pay attention to that area.”
Gen. José Carlos dos Santos, head of the Cyber Monitoring Center, which is based at the Riocentro convention center, where the conference will be held, said the team has a customized tool created specifically for Rio+20.
Since the wireless Internet access at Riocentro will be open during the conference, at the request of the UN, the tool will allow officials to identify and combat any suspicious activity on its servers.
“The main risk of a cyber attack is that it will interrupt the supply of electricity, but we have a plan that includes the use of generators,” says Santos, who pointed out R$20 million (US$10 million) has been invested to prevent cyber attacks.
Terrorist threats are not a concern, Pereira says.
“We’re living under normal conditions – we’re not at war,” he adds.
Regardless, teams from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency of the Institutional Security Office are also part of security plans for Rio+20.
“On June 5, Riocentro will be turned over to the United Nations. But, from a security standpoint, there will be 1,000 soldiers from the 4th Motorized Infantry Brigade working with the UN,” Pereira says, adding the area where the heads of state will meet is four times larger than where they convened during Eco-92.
Statistics confirm the drop in crime in Rio de Janeiro since Eco-92. The implementation of 21 Pacifying Police Units (UPPs), which benefit more than 30 Rio de Janeiro favelas, is one of the main causes for the decline.
In 1992, there were 7,635 murders in Rio de Janeiro state and 3,547 in the city. In 2011, there were 4,286 murders in the state and 1,471 in the city.
Regardless, the security during Rio+20 will once again be provided through a cooperative effort by the Armed Forces and public safety officers.
The Navy, Army and Air Force will mobilize 8,000 troops. Another 7,000 officers will be provided by the Federal, Military, Civil and Municipal police forces, as well as the Fire Department.
There will be 52 specialized teams to escort officials and convoys, including 416 convoy escorts, as well as 29 helicopters – three of which are equipped with cameras that will send images directly to the Rio+20 Security Operations Coordination Center.
Another 550 cameras throughout the city will also send images to the center.
Security will also be reinforced around Riocentro; at Quinta da Boa Vista, which will feature the Green Nation Fest, a theme park that will show the impacts of human activity on the environment; and at Aterro do Flamengo, which will host the People’s Summit and the March of the NGOs and is also the site of the main access roads to the city and waterfront.
The Civil Police will also install two interim precincts at Riocentro and Aterro do Flamengo.
Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim dismissed the possibility of closing the airports during Rio+20.
“There will be restrictions on the airspace above Riocentro,” he said. “The airplanes transporting these authorities will have priority over commercial flights.”
Marines will provide security along the Linha Vermelha, the highway connecting the Tom Jobim International Airport to the city. On the state highways outside Rio, the Federal Highway Police will bolster its security forces.
“No threats have been identified at this time,” Pereira says. “We’re just analyzing the risks and taking precautions.”