Brazil gang’s slaughter of police sparks fightback

Shasta Darlington – CNN, 11/19/2012

Marta Umbelina pulled up in front of her house with her 11-year-old daughter. When she stepped out of the car, she was shot 10 times in the back.

Umbelina was an office worker at Sao Paulo’s Military Police Northern Command — and she is one of nearly 100 cops murdered in Sao Paulo this year, roughly 50 percent higher than 2011.

Most were ambushed while off duty, part of a deadly battle between police and Brazil’s biggest criminal gang, the First Command of the Capital or PCC by its Portuguese acronym.

“Marta was my friend, my colleague, she knew everything about me,” said Simone Mello, a police officer who worked with Marta at a desk job.

“Why her? Why Marta? We’re just very sad,” she said.

In a bid to rein in the PCC, Sao Paulo launched Operation Saturation at the end of October.

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The favela policy in São Paulo

Anna Fitzpatrick – Rio Times, 11/22/2011

Paraisópolis favela in São Paulo, photo by Jatobb/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

With the eyes of the world on Rocinha for the past week, many in Brazil are now also looking at what’s going on in the favela communities in the country’s biggest city, São Paulo. Not only does SP have the largest number of favelas, it also has the largest number of people living in them – a surprise to those who associate favela life with the Cidade Maravilhosa.

Exact data is difficult to come by, but five years ago a UN report predicted that by 2020 there would be 55 million people living in favelas in Brazil. Another report ascertains that nearly twenty percent of the territory of the Municipality of São Paulo is occupied by “irregular settlements” or favelas.

Whereas favelas in Rio are easy to identify and locate, the geographical and historical development of São Paulo differs greatly as almost all favelas skirt around the edge of the city – way less visible to those living in the city.

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