With the lights of Christmas, illegal trade is stirring

Source: ETCO Magazine, No. 17, November 2010

The lights and Christmas decorations that dress shop windows and city streets at the end of each year attract not only consumers, but also street vendors who sell all sorts of counterfeit products. They try to get a piece of this Christmas movement, even in cities that in recent years have waged a persistent fight against illegal trade, removing these merchants from the central region, seizing their products, sealing deposits and recording media laboratories. As a weed, piracy resurfaces and tries to regain space in Christmas sales. “At the end of the year, there is an increase in informality in large cities,” says Fernando de Holanda Barbosa Filho, a researcher at the Brazilian Institute of Economics (Ibre) of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) and responsible for the Estimation of the Size of the Economy Underground in Brazil, made for ETCO and that was the cover of our September edition.

The city of São Paulo, as well as that of Curitiba and Brasília, have already signed an agreement with the National Council for Combating Piracy (CNCP), an organ of the Ministry of Justice, to implement the Cidade Livre de Pirataria project, which is managed by ETCO. Three more city halls are studying their adherence to the project: Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Recife. They were chosen by CNCP and contacted by ETCO because they are already developing relevant work to combat piracy.

In São Paulo, the city government created an Integrated Management Office in 2007 to combat illegal trade that took over important roads such as Avenida Paulista and its surroundings and regions of great commercial movement, such as Rua 25 de Março and Santa Ifigênia, in center, and Largo Treze de Maio, in Santo Amaro. The cabinet, coordinated by the Secretary of Urban Security, Edsom Ortega, has the participation of the Secretariat for Urban Control, state, federal and civil society representatives.

In recent years, thanks to the performance of this office, the city managed to ban street vendors from the Avenida Paulista, 25 de Março, Largo Treze de Maio, dismantled the Feira da Madrugada, in Brás, and closed two shopping centers on Avenida Paulista who sold pirated and smuggled goods. “São Paulo's experience of inhibiting illegal trade has shown that combating piracy also contributes to reducing crime,” says Edsom Ortega. The Delegated Operation, the result of an agreement with the Military Police, reduced thefts in Rua 80 de Março and Santa Ifigênia, in the city center, by 25%. In a very creative partnership, the PM gave part of the police off-duty period to patrol the street vendors. Every military policeman works 12 hours a day and has 24 hours off. Of that period of rest, they gave the city hall eight hours to act in the fight against illegal trade. As a result, policing increased in those places and crime decreased. “The street vendor creates an opportunity for 'scouts' linked to organized crime to infiltrate consumers and steal people, cars and houses,” says Ortega.

In addition to restraining the presence of street vendors on the streets, the Municipality of São Paulo offers them the opportunity to legalize their work by acting as In addition to restraining the presence of street vendors on the streets, the Municipality of São Paulo offers them the opportunity to legalize their work. acting as microentrepreneurs and adhering to Super Simples. The idea is to transfer them to popular malls built by the private sector. The first of them opened in late October, at Rua Amador Bueno, in Santo Amaro, and is welcoming the street vendors who worked at Largo Treze de Maio. These merchants pay 60 reais a month to the tax authorities, they can sell without invoices, but are required to expose their supplier's invoices. “We are cutting red tape for the legalization of street vendors' work,” says Orlando Almeida, secretary for Urban Control. In his opinion, this is the way to fight illegal trade: to encourage businessmen to transform warehouses now abandoned into shopping malls by renting space for street vendors removed from the city's sidewalks.

Edsom Ortega

Edsom Ortega, Urban Security Secretary: “Combat reduces crime”

There are already studies to create a shopping center in Brás, where the Feira da Madrugada worked, with merchants legalized by Super Simples and who work with legal products, says secretary Ortega.

The integrated management office acts in three areas, according to Ortega: prevention, with the encouragement of the creation of legalized shopping centers, and the alert to the population, which shows that piracy is one of the arms of organized crime. The second aspect is to discuss the improvement of the law and its interpretation by the Judiciary. The third and most important is the articulation of the bodies that fight illegal trade: Civil Police, Military Police, Federal Revenue and civil society entities. This articulation resulted in the integration of the surveillance cameras of the Civil Guard, the Military Police, the CET (Company of Traffic Engineering) and the SP Trans that monitor the streets of the city and allow to locate the street vendors who insist on occupying the sidewalks and quickly remove them .

The integration of these forces was essential in the work to combat piracy, since the city has no police power. She seizes the goods, but she cannot arrest the seller. The next day, he goes back to the streets refueled. "It was what happened with the Stand Center and the Promocenter, two shopping malls on Avenida Paulista that were closed numerous times by the Federal Revenue and the Federal Police and the following week they were reopened with injunctions obtained in court," says Secretary Orlando Almeida.

They were finally banned in 2008, after an operation involving the Contru, the Sub-prefecture of the See, the Military Police, the Civil Police, the Metropolitan Civil Guard, the State Finance Department and the Federal Revenue Service. “This task force checked permits, invoices, the legality of the goods and the security of the building,” says Secretary Orlando Almeida. Contru found a series of irregularities that put consumers at risk, such as blocked exits, rooms with mixed paper and thinner, which facilitated the spread of fire. “The two malls were closed for security reasons. No judge granted an injunction, and traders who could not appear before the PF and the IRS moved to other locations, ”says Almeida.

The same result, however, was not obtained in the attempt to ban Galeria Pagé, at 25 de Março Street, last year. “We did an articulated work with the Prosecutor's Office for Housing and Urbanism, which asked Contru to inspect the place. Four trucks with illicit goods were seized by the State Finance Department, and the gallery was closed by Contru for lack of security. However, a judge who takes care of sharing the property of the building's heirs granted an injunction to the owners, and the Pagé Gallery still works today, ”says Almeida.

Destruction of counterfeit CDs and DVDs

Destruction of counterfeit CDs and DVDs seized in São Paulo thanks to the articulation of bodies that fight illegal trade