ONTD Political

The marvelous city... reacts?

8:49 pm - 11/25/2010
Brazil police battle Rio de Janeiro gang violence

Police in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro have launched a major operation to try to stop a wave of violence by criminal gangs.

For three days, suspected gang members have been blocking roads, burning cars and shooting at police stations.

Military police have been deployed in 17 different slum districts.

Rio's governor says the violence is retaliation by drugs gangs who have been driven out of some areas by a police pacification programme.

More than 1,000 officers had been taken away from desk jobs to join the surge on the streets, the military police said, and 300 extra motorcycle police were on patrol.

Rio de Janeiro's state governor Sergio Cabral has also asked the central government for police reinforcements from outside Rio to keep the main highways open.

Two suspected gang member have been shot dead.

More than eight others have been arrested, including four suspects who were found with petrol bombs in the Copacabana beach neighbourhood.

Orchestrated attacks

Starting on Saturday night, armed men have been blocking some of the main roads leading out of Rio, robbing motorists and setting their vehicles on fire.

The authorities are convinced that the attacks are being orchestrated by drugs gangs in retaliation for being forced out of their traditional strongholds in some slum districts by police pacification units.

"Without doubt these attacks are related to the reconquest of territory and the new policy of public security in Rio de Janeiro," Mr Cabral said.

"We are not going to retreat in this policy. We are going to push forward, pacifying communities and bringing peace to the population."

Rio's police have been taking back control of poor neighbourhoods, known as favelas, that have for years been controlled by heavily armed drug trafficking gangs.

The pacification programme is aimed at improving security and the rule of law in Rio, which will host the Fifa football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.


Military vehicles enter Brazil slum

Armoured carriers roll into Vila Cruzeiro slum in Rio de Janeiro as security forces prepare to take on drug gangs.

Military armoured vehicles have rolled into the Vila Cruzeiro slum in northern Rio de Janeiro in support of a police crackdown on Brazilian drug gangs.

Thursday's show of strength came after five days of unrest in the city, during which police stations were attacked and armed groups stopped vehicles, robbed the occupants and set fire to cars.

At least 23 people have been killed and 153 have been arrested as Brazilian security forces seek to crush the gangs and impose the law in the violent slums, known as favelas.

The crackdown has seen police deploying armoured personnel carriers, helicopters and thousands of heavily armed agents.

It is part of the government's wide-spread strategy to control crime in the favelas in the lead up to the country's hosting of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.

Footage from Brazil's TV Globo showed heavily armed drug traffickers escaping to a neighbouring community on pick-up trucks and motorbikes, running through dirt roads on the top of hills.

But Lilia Teles, a TV Globo reporter, told Al Jazeera that that criminals are still setting fires to buses and cars in the city, and that shotgun blasts can be heard in Rio's streets.

Bloody clash anticipated

Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo has been monitoring the situation from Sao Paulo, and said that the public hospital nearest to Vila Cruzeiro has been "urgently sending out messages for all of the trauma doctors to please come to the hospital immediately, because they're expecting that this could get very bloody".

He also reported that while police in Rio de Janeiro have been engaged in favela occupation programmes over the past two years, the situation in Vila Cruzeiro is unique.

"This is really a big deal ... this is the first time ever, in Brazil's history, in the history of Rio, that the civil police have ever used any sort of these armoured personnel carriers in an operation such as this."

Six of the armoured vehicles entered the Vila Cruzeiro favela, where police say the drug gangs have taken refuge after they were forced out of 13 other slums.

The gangs are fighting back by opening fire on police stations and setting cars and buses ablaze, police said.

Our correspondent said that the violence that rocked Rio de Janeiro in recent days is a clear message from the drug traffickers.

"This is basically them saying, 'We're still here, we still can wreak havoc, we can still cause panic in the city'" Elizondo said.


Rio favela violence: How police use hard and soft tactics

For many years the sight of police officers in one of Rio de Janeiro's most notorious favelas signalled to inhabitants that a shoot-out with members of a drug gang was most likely imminent.

Many favelas have long been controlled by heavily armed drugs gangs, which use the slums as a base from which to distribute supplies and impose their own arbitrary punishments on those who offend them or risk attracting police attention.

Police have been criticised by human rights groups for too often using lethal force without justification in Brazil's favelas and many of the poorest communities came to fear those who were meant to protect them.

The introduction of Police Pacification Units (UPPs) in Rio two years ago has seen the first sustained attempt to break this cycle, enforce the rule of law in favelas and win the hearts and minds of the next generation.

Sergio Cabral, the governor of Rio de Janeiro state, changed the city's approach to security issues after a visit to Colombia in 2007 during which he visited the cities of Bogota and Medellin, which have also been scarred by battles between drugs gangs and police.

After his return he secured $1.7 billion (£1.1 billion) of federal funding to develop favelas.

UPPs were subsequently launched alongside this programme, under the guidance of Jose Mariano Beltrame, the state's public security secretary.

The units are typically spearheaded by elite officers from the Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE) but they also involve police showing a softer side by offering classes to children in day care centres.

In the City of God favela, which became known worldwide after the film of the same name, police act as teachers for everything from karate to music.

Police officers based in the units receive generous monthly bonuses.

The authorities hope that by 2014, when Brazil will host the World Cup for the first time since 1950, there should be at least 12,500 police working in 40 or more UPPs in Rio.

Only time will tell whether the violence of recent days has dealt a significant blow to that ambition.


And I decided to add pics and videos...


Literally hundreds of drug dealers were seen running away

And I guess I should add that Rio deserves better, that there's a lot more to Rio than these bloody stories and that "Rio de Janeiro remains beautiful" .

Pics taken from here and here.

Huge, huge operation. I'm not there but there seems to be a mix of frustration, hope, doubt, confidence, fear...
stormqueen280 25th-Nov-2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
Well, I had to leave work early yesterday and today in order to get home before it gets dark, I have never EVER been so squeezed in the subway, I slept a total of 2.5 hours last night waiting for my brother to get home because there were no buses in the streets, and that nice huge slum the drug dealers were running to in that video? Like 20 minutes from my house. I foresee another nice night of shootings for me. Yay.

But you know what? If this is the end, if they'll finally take over Vila Cruzeiro, shit, this is so worth it.

danyjoncew 25th-Nov-2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
This whole talk of "it's now or never" is so... gfshlghjlshjg.
stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 01:47 am (UTC)
Strangely, I think that people are starting to believe in this op. I mean, I don't put a lot of faith in the UPPs, mainly because they were not arresting the dealers, they were merely relocating them. Take over this slum and the dealers go to the other one. There are over 450 slums in Rio, plenty of space.

But it seems that dealers were pissed off enough to make these attacks, and rumor is that someone actually threatened the wife and children of the Bope commander (dude, didn't they watch Elite Squad? You don't mess with the Bope big guy). So the police decided to go with full force, and it seems to be working.

And this time, the population is not making a riot about innocents being killed (except for that 14-year-old girl who was shot at home, and I'm incredibly pissed off about that). That indicates that the operation was reasonably well-planned, that they are actually using intel on Vila Cruzeiro instead of going in blind. Disque-Denuncia (the police hotline) had record-high calls yesterday and today, so people are collaborating. That makes a difference, seems the population is giving a leap of faith and giving the cops the benefit of the doubt.

Now, the people only give this chance once. They mess it up, it's gonna be hell.
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 02:42 am (UTC)
The press is even backing it up this time :-S. What's up with that?
stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 02:44 am (UTC)
I think it's a mix of 'I've had enough' and 'maybe the police can do it without killing half of our children, let's try'.
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 02:52 am (UTC)
Well, the motherfuckers are pretty damn desperate, that much is obvious. And deliciously funny and thrilling.

And from what is coming out tonight, shit is gonna be epic tomorrow, hope you won't cause you much trouble.

Also, lmao at BOPE calling Globo and Record out on their live coverage.
stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 02:58 am (UTC)
That road the dealers were using to escape leads to Morro do Alemão, which happens to be near my cousin's house. We called him and he said the streets are packed with police cars on his side, so there shouldn't be problems. Also, it rained lots in the past hours (it's still raining here) so I think that no one is going to start shootings right now.

Agree with you, I felt a perverse pleasure seeing those bastards running for their lives. Let them be sacred for once!
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 03:10 am (UTC)
I felt a perverse pleasure seeing those bastards running for their lives.

Well, we're Brazilians, masters of the full-time sense of humor, however so politically incorrect mwua-ha-ha.

In fact, this just made me wonder if people were joking around on Twitter and of course they are, why would I doubt it?
stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 03:18 am (UTC)
Take a look at this: http://www.sensacionalista.com.br/wordpress/

Priceless stuff!
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 03:23 am (UTC)


stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 03:34 am (UTC)
I can't believe I never showed you this, you should see what they said about Serra's paper ball.
danyjoncew IT, not YOU26th-Nov-2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
Anyway... holy cow, waking up was surreal. I never really thought Alemão Hill would actually be addressed. I'm genuinely apprehensive now.
stormqueen280 Re: IT, not YOU26th-Nov-2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
Engenho is just behind me, and Alemão is on the other side of the metro line, less than four kilometers away in a straight line. Today things seem quite calm, aside from the noise of the police helicopters, but no frigging way I'm leaving home today.

I'm not worried about going to work, I'm worried about not being able to come back at night, because there are going to be no buses, the subway will be impossible, and I'm really not interested in being a target for any stray bullets as I walk home.
danyjoncew Re: IT, not YOU26th-Nov-2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
Is your boss fine with it? And there's no car in the house?
stormqueen280 Re: IT, not YOU26th-Nov-2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
No car, but even if there was, I wouldn't be crazy enough to take my car for a spin today. In order to get home from downtown, I must pass by the 'Gaza Strip' (seriously, that's how we call it), and they are still setting cars on fire there.

My boss is OK, because I can work from home. I stayed home during the floods in April too.
danyjoncew Re: IT, not YOU26th-Nov-2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
I feel kinda lame about it but I confess I had a few thoughts like "well, good luck driving by Linha Vermelha, tourists". What a great vibe to arrive in Rio, Tom Jobim would be proud.

I'm also happy GloboNews opened their signal cause I don't have Globosat channels anymore and now I can watch Estúdio i =D.
stormqueen280 Re: IT, not YOU26th-Nov-2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
Wait, Globonews opened their signal? Sweet! I already have it, so I didn't notice.

I just checked and Bandnews is open as well, and I certainly don't have it.
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
Maria Beltrão apparently is on vacation and there's a smug conservative there today hosting it. Oh well, José Padilha is there too ahaha.
evelynwordsmyth 26th-Nov-2010 12:08 am (UTC)
Holy Sheeeet. :O

perfectisafault 26th-Nov-2010 12:14 am (UTC)
Whoa. Holy shit. I have no words, except it kind of reminds me of City of God (which makes sense, because wasn't that set in a Rio favela?). Those photos.... D:
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 12:39 am (UTC)
Yes, City of God is in Rio.

But Tropa de Elite/Elite Squad did it better =D.

<3 Epic movie, flawless actor etc, etc.
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 03:14 am (UTC)
Damn, this is the rough cut that leaked + amateur translation. Oops.
teenydino 26th-Nov-2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
this movie is so perfect
stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 01:49 am (UTC)
City of God takes place in the Cidade de Deus slum, which was one of the first to 'be pacified' and receive an UPP, a permanent police unit.
devil_ad_vocate 26th-Nov-2010 12:50 am (UTC)
Making things tidy for the Olympics...
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 01:00 am (UTC)
Would you mind elaborating?
devil_ad_vocate 26th-Nov-2010 01:35 am (UTC)
I did not mean to be flippant; I realize it is a serious problem. The security situation is important for the upcoming international events, but I have read that the people who 'run things' in the favelas have connections in Brazil's political upper echelons. Is this going to evolve into a civil war? You certainly know more than I do. I would like to know what the outcome is likely to be!
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 02:36 am (UTC)
There's a lot of history here. Nothing is happening out of nowhere, good or bad. So this week's events are historic cause some of its operational procedures are kinda newish and it could be a huge step forward if it goes right (if one can even call occupying important hills a success when there are innocent people being shot and things being set on fire across the city) and there's obviously a lot going on but at the same time I don't expect a dramatic outcome, cause that's what it is: a step.

But I guess I'm just tired of people acting as if there's no hope and as if Brazil and its institutions are too fucked up to ever get their shit together or at least achieve the goals they settle for themselves. It's almost as if some people take all excuses to fold their arms and go "See? Brazil is ~so fucked up~, it always will be, why does anybody expect any different?" (and not doing anything about it, of course). Because as far as our many HUGE problems go, many things are getting better in their own odd ways. And this operation seems to have gotten people hopeful for a change.

/I'm not even sure that made any sense without specific examples and more digging into history but it's past midnight, not my 1st language and I tried, I promise ahahaha.

PS: Rio's situation was pretty well known before they got picked to host the Olympics and they are committed to making things better, not only for the World Cup and the Olympics but for the citizens, obviously.

PS2: Rio is not exactly new to throwing huge events and, if one goes with the worst case scenario, the touristic areas have much less of this rampant violence. So unless they get the gangs REALLY angry, extra police on the streets during the events and kinky, corrupt deals probably should suffice? :-D
stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 02:48 am (UTC)
So unless they get the gangs REALLY angry, extra police on the streets during the events and kinky, corrupt deals probably should suffice?

Worked on the Panamerican Games. Seriously, if they were 'cleaning the city' for the Olympics, they'd do it on late 2015/early 2016. It wouldn't make any sense to do things now unless they were aiming at the Military Games next year.
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 03:02 am (UTC)
I'm kinda curious to see how things will build up and settle until then, both for the police and the gangs. I mean, as we type there are probably a few fugitive drug dealers having their asses handed to them with all the rivalry between the gangs and their territories being more and more disputed. Will they leave for other cities? Will they all come together? How do you repress these new coalitions and migrant bases?

So many questions!
stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 01:35 am (UTC)
Who gives a damn about the Olympics, I have to live in this city for the next six years, you know.
mortichro 26th-Nov-2010 02:20 am (UTC)
u mean the next world cup?
stormqueen280 26th-Nov-2010 02:30 am (UTC)
Actually, Rio is going to host both the World Cup final match in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics.
berseker 26th-Nov-2010 03:19 am (UTC)
IDEK I can't decided if I'm terrified or hopeful or what. But. It will be so incredibly awesome if they make this work.
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 03:29 am (UTC)
I'm sick of negativity in this country. I'm like "go get them, Nascimento!". Erm, actually not even that, I'm more like loving that people are for once shown going so badass and saying they are not gonna let this bring them down or take over their lives and streets. And they are trying to help and getting involved too.

I remember when the deadly mudslides and floods hit Santa Catarina people were so determined and patriotic and ready to help reverse the situation... that's the spirit.
berseker 26th-Nov-2010 03:37 am (UTC)
You're completely right. Same about that feeling that we're too passive and too laid-back to ever try to do anything.

And I remember the whole PCC mess back in 2006 (?) and how different it felt, because back then the drug-dealers were doing it to show their strenght and the whole thing was so fucked up, and this situation now feels so *different*. So like something that can actually work. So... seing tanks in the streets is scary but it's so awesome at the same time because fucking finally.

I hope they do it. I'm checking all the news I can find now.
danyjoncew 26th-Nov-2010 03:40 am (UTC)
oh, yeah. Remember when São Paulo's government refused Federal help?
berseker 26th-Nov-2010 03:45 am (UTC)
Oh yes I DO. So extra points for Rio for being smarter than that.
ayajedi 26th-Nov-2010 04:57 am (UTC)
stormqueen280 28th-Nov-2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
The cops are taking over Alemão now, helicopters have been passing over my house the whole morning.
danyjoncew 28th-Nov-2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
I submitted a post, bb. Hope it gets approved.

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