Brazil: cleaning out favelas

Shootings and people finding haven within their homes are the first samples of the reality within the poorest areas of Brazil

Brazil: cleaning out favelas 

Leer en Español:Brasil: limpiando la favela

Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, was taken over by the nation’s army in order to guarantee its lack of drug traffickers and delinquency. 950 soldiers have been deployed in response to a request from the Rio de Janeiro state government, which faces liquidity problems, said Defense Minister Raúl Jungmann. So far, the death toll has risen to 3 people, 6 injured, and 18 people arrested.

Due to the situation, locals have had to seek shelter within in their homes and few have gone to work. Nobody talks to people outside the favela because they are afraid of the consequences when the army leaves. The situation is tense but calm, where even the police doesn’t know how to take care of themselves.

Police are struggling to maintain the security they had gained before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but have begun to cede much ground following the economic crisis of the city. In addition, the state not only made spending cuts in the security forces department, as well as in other essential services as well. This is the third operation of its kind since August 5th, with the participation of soldiers, air force and navy personnel, as well as police and federal intelligence agents.

In recent weeks, about 60 criminals have launched their arsenals to dominate drug trafficking in the favela, located just a few kilometers from some of the city's most expensive properties. Local media has reported shootings in the area until the army stepped in. For the Minister of Defense and the Mayor of Rio, the military will not retire until there are optimum conditions for the inhabitants of the sector. "We do not have a deadline to leave, we are having a good performance of the operation, but it is not being addressed at the moment", said Mauro Ninot, coordinator of the Armed Forces operations in Rio, in a press conference.

Rocinha is considered the largest favela in Brazil. Like most of the poor neighborhoods of Rio, the community is located on the side of a mountain and it’s one of the most emblematic, because of its history and its splendid views of the city. The situation of Rocinha is symbolic of the current situation that the city of Rio is facing: increased crime in its streets, economic crisis, augmented unemployment, and lack of resources after the end of sports events in recent years, the World Cup football 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games.

But the situation is not better in the more affluent areas of the city, because even in said parts of town there are robberies, express kidnappings, and quarrels have become something of the everyday. The citizens of the city perceive the current situation like a lost war against drug trafficking and their perception about Rocinha is not optimal. Marcella Recchia, a resident of Rio, says that with the measures taken things will not change "the war against the cartels has demonstrated the passivity of the police forces, when the wealthiest neighborhoods are again safe, the police and the army will return to withdraw the operation and the control of the favelas will be in the drug dealers again, it is a cycle”.


Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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