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JANUARY 20, 2002

Crime getting out of control in Sao Paulo

THE mayor of Sao Paulo Mayor Marta Suplicy has told Globo TV that the city has now reached "the limit of tolerance" because of a new wave of violent crimes and kidnappings.

"Everyone is the city is scared and this is intolerable," she said.

The mayor's remarks come after a startling escalation in the number of kidnappings in the city. The latest victim of this new wave of crime is Celso Augusto Daniel, the mayor of Santo Andre, was driving home in the south of the city on Friday when he was attacked by kidnappers. There was a gunfight before Daniel was taken by the kidnappers. It is still thought possible that the crime is a political one because Daniel belongs to a radical Workers Party and another party was recently gunned down for no apparent reason.

Abductions in Sao Paulo state more than quadrupled in the course of 2001, with almost 10 victims a day being reported in November. There were several crimes against F1 people in Brazil last year but fortunately no-one was hurt although F1 team bosses are not going to be happy sending their teams into a place where kidnapping has become a business. Formula 1 does not need to draw attention to its obvious wealth in a country like Brazil.

The kidnappers are also become increasingly daring. Last week a housewife was killed outside her own house after her family failed to find the ransom being demanded. The crime shocked the city.