Army tries to win over residents of Rio’s favelas

April 7, 2014

Marco Antonio Martins & Bruno Fanti – Folha de S. Paulo, 4/7/2014

Part of the success or failure of the occupation by the armed forces of the Complexo da Maré, in Rio’s north end, is its ability to win over the community. It’s what the military began trying to do three hours after its occupation of the 15 favelas of Maré.

Yesterday, there was a moment of tension between the military and residents after a young man was beaten by others and the military was accused of doing nothing.

Cláudio Brum dos Reis, 22, a student and resident of Nova Holanda, went to watch a game in Baixa do Sapateiro. The favelas were ruled by different factions. According to relatives, Reis was attacked by a group of teenagers and thrown in the ditch that divides the communities.

Occupying Brazil

April 7, 2014

Al Jazeera - 4/6/2014

In the canyons of Brazil’s largest city there are tens of thousands being left in the wake of the country’s economic riptide.

Sao Paulo has outstripped its capacity for affordable housing and yet there are hundreds of abandoned buildings that stand empty.

Facing the dire prospect of being forced into the streets by rising rents and living in the ever-expanding and hazardous favelas, there is an occupation movement taking responsibility for its own future. They seize abandoned buildings for the low-wage workers who have few options except to forcibly occupy them. They then have to live with the uncertainty that they could be removed either by the state or the building’s owner.

Attitudes on sex in Brazil tested

April 7, 2014

Loretta Chao – Wall Street Journal, 4/4/2014

In Brazil, where women in skimpy bikinis and carnival costumes are a common sight, one image of a half-naked female is drawing rare nationwide attention.

A widely distributed photo of a topless journalist with the words “I don’t deserve to be raped” painted on her body in Portuguese has polarized the country and underscored the contradiction between Brazil’s hyper-sexualized image and its lesser-known conservative underpinnings.

The journalist, 28-year-old Nana Queiroz, took the picture as part of a campaign to raise awareness over violence against women, which began after a government research agency said recently that 65% of respondents to a national survey agreed that women showing too much of their bodies deserve to be attacked.

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Brazil official promises ombudsmen in Rio slums

April 4, 2014

Associated Press, 4/3/2014

 Authorities will set up offices in the slums of Brazil’s second largest city to receive complaints about abuse of power by police, the top security official of the state of Rio de Janeiro said Thursday.

Jose Mariano Beltrame made the promise during a meeting with residents of the Mare complex of slums, who expressed fears of police violence and human rights abuses.

Beltrame acknowledged that police “at times act in an aggressive way” but he said “this is not the rule.”

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Brazil set to send army into Rio slums as violence escalates before World Cup

March 24, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 3/24/2014

Brazil is poised to send the army into the slums of Rio de Janeiro less than three months before the World Cup following a spate of attacks on police has resulted in the most tense standoff for years in the favelas.

The Rio state governor, Sérgio Cabral, has requested the reinforcements after attacks on police bases, apparently co-ordinated by the city’s biggest gang, Comando Vermelho.

An escalation of fire-bombings, murders and revenge killings have prompted talk of a war between the police and gangsters. Favela residents and NGOs say the situation is now tenser than at any time since 2010, when the authorities began a “pacification” programme to regain control of communities from armed traffickers.

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Rio de Janeiro police posts attacked

March 21, 2014

The Associated Press – The Miami Herald, 3/20/2014

Rio de Janeiro police say suspected drug gang members have attacked three of the so-called police pacification posts set up recently in slums.

At least one policeman was shot and wounded Thursday night, while the police outpost — a cluster of metal shipping containers — located near the slum that Pope Francis visited last year was burned.

It’s the latest violence to hit Rio just before the city is set to host several matches during the World Cup.

Since 2008, police have pushed into slums and driven out drug gangs, who lorded over vast swaths of Rio for decades. In an effort to secure the city ahead of the World Cup and 2016 Olympics, police then installed permanent posts.

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Police violence in Brazil

March 21, 2014

The Economist, 3/20/2014

EVERY year Brazil’s police are responsible for at least 2,000 deaths. The victims are generally recorded as having been “killed while resisting arrest” (the exact phrase used varies from state to state). Usually, few apart from the victims’ families take much notice—even when the circumstances are highly suspicious, for example where the fatal wounds suggest the victim was running away when shot, or even kneeling. It is rare that a police officer is suspended for a killing; rarer still for one to be charged or tried (although on March 19th ten were found guilty of a sickening prison massacre in 1992). But a recent case has horrified even this violence-hardened nation.

On March 16th Cláudia da Silva Ferreira, a 38-year-old mother of four, was struck by gunfire during a shoot-out between police and suspected criminals close to her home in a favela on the periphery of Rio de Janeiro. The police bundled her into the boot of their car—ostensibly to take her to the hospital—but without closing it properly. During the trip it sprang open and her body fell out. An item of clothing snagged on the car and she was dragged for several hundred metres behind the car before one of the officers got out and put her body back in.

What made this case stand out was that the horrible scene was captured on video by a passer-by, and later published online. That has pushed the case onto the national agenda. On March 18th the president, Dilma Rousseff, offered her condolences to Ms da Silva Ferreira’s family; Rio state’s governor, Sérgio Cabral, apologised to the family in a meeting the following day. Two of the three policemen in the car have been charged with murder.

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Brazil minister admits sport events shortcomings

March 20, 2014

Roger Blitz – The Financial Times, 3/20/2014

Brazil should have been better prepared for this year’s World Cup and has also been too slow in getting ready for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the country’s sports minister has admitted.

The frank admission from Aldo Rebelo marks a shift in tone from the Brazilian government from its consistently defiant message that it was on top of the task of hosting the world’s next two biggest sporting events.

Asked in an FT interview what Brazil would have done differently when it was awarded the World Cup seven years ago, Mr Rebelo said: “We would have taken better advantage of the time because the decisions would not be different.

 Read more..

Brazil to drop local data storage rule in internet bill

March 20, 2014

Anthony Baodle – Reuters, 3/18/2014

Brazil will drop a controversial provision that would have forced global Internet companies to store data on Brazilian users inside the country to shield them from U.S. spying, a government minister said on Tuesday.

The rule was added last year to proposed Internet governance legislation after revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency had spied on the digital communications of Brazilians, including those of their President Dilma Rousseff and the country’s biggest company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

Instead, the legislation will say that companies such as Google Inc and Facebook Inc are subject to Brazilian laws in cases involving information on Brazilians even if the data is stored abroad, congressional relations minister Ideli Salvatti told reporters.

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Rio police seize favela as crime rises ahead of World Cup

March 14, 2014

David Biller – Bloomberg, 3/13/2014

Rio de Janeiro state’s security forces occupied another slum today following a surge in crime in the favelas where it has expanded policing.

Heavily armed police moved into the Vila Kennedy neighborhood in the west of the city this morning, making it the 38th favela taken over since 2008, according to the state security secretariat. There were no reports of gunfire in what culminated six days of operations in other communities.

Brazil’s biggest tourist destination is struggling to stamp out violence ahead of the soccer World Cup that starts in June. Drug traffickers have regained traction in some shantytowns, including one hillside between Ipanema and Copacabana beach, complicating efforts to keep a fragile peace won by building and staffing police stations. Vila Kennedy will now gain its own pacification unit, known as a UPP.

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