Brazilian cameraman killed in Rio shoot-out during police drugs raid

November 7, 2011

Tom Phillips – Guardian, 11/06/2011

A Brazilian journalist mourns the death of his colleague Gelson Domingos da Silva, shot during a police operation against drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Fernando Quevedo/Agencia O Globo/EPA

A Brazilian television cameraman has been killed while filming an intense shoot-out between police and drug traffickers that claimed at least four other lives in Rio de Janeiro.

Gelson Domingos da Silva, an experienced crime photographer working for the Bandeirantes TV network, was reportedly hit in the chest by a high-calibre rifle shot while covering a dawn special forces raid on the Antares favela in western Rio.

One photograph published in the Brazilian media showed Domingos, 46, moments before he was shot, crouching behind two rifle-toting military policemen and a roadblock improvised from a tree trunk. A second photograph showed the cameraman’s lifeless body in a police car.

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In the hills of Rio, shantytowns get a makeover

November 1, 2011

Juan Forero – NPR, 11/01/2011

Santa Marta is one of the many slums that dot the hillsides of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio, host of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, is now trying to remake these slums, or favelas, long wracked by poverty and violence. Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

On a recent day in Rio de Janeiro, police radios crackle in Providencia, a warren of cinder-block homes and narrow walkways where drugs and violence were once common.

But these days, it’s just routine chatter. All is safe in this favela, one of the hundreds of slums built chock-a-block on the city’s steep hills. A Rio advertising company is leading a tour for its employees and representatives of other companies.

Among those who have come is Raoni Lotar, a 30-year-old Carioca — resident of Rio.

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Rio’s police face reality check in un-pacified favela

October 26, 2011

Julia Michaels – InSight Crime, 10/26/2011

(InSight Crime)

Brazil’s elite military police are trying to build ties with communities and undo the harm done by officers who allegedly abused residents in Complexo da Mare, a favela which has not yet come under police control, reports blogger Julia Michaels.

Since the 2008 start of Rio’s new public safety policy, BOPE, the military police elite squad, has met with community members, but never like this.

First of all, the cops weren’t even invited. “When we saw you coming in, the first thing we thought was, ‘They’re going to prevent us from meeting’,” said Rubens Casara, a judge active on human rights issues. “The second was, ‘They’re going to try to keep people from making accusations about police behavior’,” he told three elite squad members who came, it turned out, to actually listen and respond to residents.

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Rio’s top cop talks public safety policy, favela pacification program

October 20, 2011

Julia Michaels – Christian Science Monitor, 10/20/2011

Rio de Janeiro's Security Secretary, Jose Mariano Beltrame, attends a press conference at Justice Court of Rio de Janeiro, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 12. Fabio Motta/Agencia Estado/Newscom/File

Highlights of an extensive Epoca magazine interview published yesterday, with State Public Safety Secretary, Jose Mariano Beltrame, by Ruth de Aquino.

  • Paramilitary gangs, milícias, are the priority now, not drug traffickers. ”Almost every week we arrest a militia member,” Mr. Beltrame said. When a judge who’d been tough on milicianos was gunned down in front of her home this past August, it was instantly clear they’d gone too far. Eleven military police, including a battalion commander, are behind bars now, accused of the killing. The assassination touched off a major shakeup in the military police hierarchy, starting with the chief’s resignation.
  • Rocinha favela will be pacified soon, and its druglord, Nem, may turn himself in. “Bring Nem. Great. It’s just a question of finding a time and place. No problem.”

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Favela reporters censored by army, wave of attacks on regional journalists

October 19, 2011

Reporters Without Borders, 10/19/2011

The army’s attempts to “pacify” and secure Brazil’s favelas and crack down on their drug traffickers before the 2014 Football World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games are raising concern about the accompanying violations of human rights and civil liberties in these communities, including the rights of their own journalists.

News reporting by the residents of these poor neighbourhoods should enjoy the same safety guarantees and freedom from censorship as reporting by Brazil’s mainstream media.

A series of incidents this month in Complexo do Alemão, a conglomeration of 13 favelas in Rio de Janeiro, has set a disturbing precedent and highlighted a reluctance on the part of the military to accept grass-roots reporting.

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As prosperity rises in Brazil’s Northeast, so does drug violence

August 30, 2011

Alexei Barrionuevo – New York Times, 08/29/2011

A house in Nova Constituinte, in Salvador, is protected by a makeshift fence. The arrival of crack cocaine has been particularly devastating there, and the number of murders in Bahia increased 430 percent between 1999 and 2008. Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times

SALVADOR, Brazil — Jenilson Dos Santos Conceição, 20, lay face down on the rough concrete, his body twisted, sandals still on his feet, as the blood from his 14 bullet wounds stained the sloped alleyway.

A small crowd of residents watched dispassionately as a dozen police officers hovered around the young man’s lifeless body.

“He was followed until he was executed right here,” said Bruno Ferreira de Oliveira, a senior investigator. “They wanted to make sure he was dead.”

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Women in favelas broadcast peace

July 13, 2011

Fabiana Frayssinet – Inter Press Service, 07/12/2011

Local women’s voices have begun to be heard over a community radio station now broadcasting in Complexo do Alemao, a clump of favelas or shantytowns on the north side of this Brazilian city that were ruled until recently by armed drug gangs.

Gender issues, social and health matters, local environmental problems, employment and women’s rights are the focus of Radio Mulher, or women’s radio station, which began to broadcast this month.

Before going on the air, the participants received a year of training about the workings of a radio station, including general courses for all as well as specific training in different areas depending on each woman’s role in the station, as determined by each individual’s strengths and talents.

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Brazil tackles ‘entrenched inequalities’

May 16, 2011

Fabiola Ortiz – AlJazeera, 05/15/2011

Jane de Meneses Coelho, whose son Julio Cesar died in a police operation, cries as Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty watches during a meeting for victims of police violence at Cidade Alta slim in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Reuters

Despite “considerable progress” made in reducing poverty, “stark inequalities” remain in Brazil, as well as high levels of police and gang violence in poor urban neighbourhoods, Amnesty International warns in its annual human rights report, released as it reaches its 50th anniversary.

The “Annual Report 2011: The state of the world’s human rights” documents specific restrictions on free speech in at least 89 countries, cases of torture and other ill-treatment in almost 100 countries, and unfair trials in at least 54 countries.

In the chapter on Brazil, the London-based global rights watchdog says the country’s “favelas” or shanty towns continue to face “a range of human rights abuses, including forced eviction and lack of access to basic services.”

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