Rudy Giuliani’s $1.6 Million Amazon Adventure Has Become an Issue in the Brazilian Election

RUDY GIULIANI HAS become a controversial figure in this year’s election — in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. With his eyes on reelection this Sunday, governor Amazonino Mendes signed a controversial $1.6 million consultancy contract with Giuliani Security & Safety (GSS). Mendes is prominently touting the deal in his campaign, promising it will “revolutionize” the state’s grim security predicament.

It’s the latest example of Giuliani traveling abroad to cash in on his tough-on-crime reputation from his days as New York City mayor, despite the fact that new research has increasingly discredited his signature implementation of the “broken windows” policing strategy.

Back home, Giuliani is defending president Donald Trump in a probe related to foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, but his own ties to foreign governments, through lucrative contracts such as this one, have drawn scrutiny in Washington. Critics in multiple countries where Giuliani operates — including the U.S. — argue that his specialty is serving as a media diversion, rather than the job description written on his contracts.

In 2009, while mayor of Manaus, Mendes’s vice mayor Carlos Souza was arrested and charged with involvement in the drug trade, and his late brother Wallace was accused of ordering the killings of drug dealers to increase the audience of the television crime show both men hosted. Wallace died in 2010. Souza still faces charge of association with the drug trade.

In a campaign video, Mendes put GSS front and center, boasting that he sought out the best security consultancy in the world. “Ideally, when you have a serious illness, you call in a specialist, right? That’s what we did. We sought out the best crime-fighting consultancy in the world. It’s called Rudolph Giuliani.”

The firm’s deal with Amazonas state has been challenged by Brazilian police, prosecutors, and law enforcement specialists who question how Giuliani’s New York experience can translate to the very different realities of this sprawling jungle state, where grueling poverty, systematic corruption, and police violence are intrinsically related to rampant crime levels. The 2017 murder rate in Manaus was 48 per 100,000, higher than the 30.66 per 100,000 in New York at its 1990 worst.

Federal prosecutors have dubbed the GSS contract a “media spectacle”; a leading penal judge asked why Brazilian specialists weren’t being employed, and police officers wondered why the governor wasn’t asking them instead. Brazil’s Federal Police — the country’s equivalent of the FBI, which also control borders and fights transnational drug crime — flatly refused to cooperate. State prosecutors opened an investigation into the GSS contract’s legality.


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