Brazil’s favela fairy tale: When Prince Charming packs heat

November 25, 2014

Flora Charner – Aljazeera America, 11/24/2014

As Marcelle Rosa, 15, walked onto the dance floor, she looked like a modern-day princess. She was wearing a pink and black ball gown with a tightly laced corset and a tiara on top of her coiffed curls. Suddenly, a man in a pressed uniform took her by the hand and led her in a waltz. She could not stop smiling.

Rosa and a group of her closest friends were living any girl’s fairy tale, far, far away from the favela they call home. While the night was everything she would have dreamed, she never imagined her Prince Charming would be an officer from Rio de Janeiro’s military police.

The music switched from Tchaikovsky to Brazilian funk, and the teenagers let go of their partners. With each beat, the girls bounced and gyrated, swishing their long dresses on the floor. A group of female police officers joined the dance circle and shimmied with the girls. This was the Cerro-Corá favela’s debutante ball, organized by the fairy godmothers of the local Police Pacification Unit, or UPP.

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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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Brazil tries a softer approach to crime

January 13, 2014

Loretta Chao – Wall Street Journal, 1/12/2014

Sticking her head out of a squad-car window, a young Brazilian police recruit shouts to the passengers of a car in front of her to exit their vehicle.

But she is quickly scolded by her trainer, who tells her to use a megaphone, to speak calmly, address people as “citizens” and to “say please.” “Please,” she tries again, slowly and carefully. “Citizen, exit your vehicle. Please.”

The demonstration was part of an overhaul of Rio de Janeiro’s police academy. The goal: to fix an image many have of a corrupt, violent force that is distrusted by Rio’s own residents, particularly the roughly 1.5 million living in shantytowns, called favelas.

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Brazil police take Rio slums without firing shots

October 7, 2013

The Associated Press, 10/06/2013

Police have occupied a group of adjacent favelas in Rio de Janeiro, the latest slum “pacification” aimed at driving out drug traffickers and improving security in the coastal city.

Col. Luis Castro Menezes, commander of the military police in Rio, says not a single shot was fired during the 50-minute operation Sunday involving 590 police officers and 180 military troops in the Lins de Vasconcelos slums in the city’s north. The slums include 12 communities with about 15,000 inhabitants.

Authorities plan to install two permanent police stations in the slums as part of the city’s “pacification” program.

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Hackers in Brazil invade site of Rio governor’s party, urge clarity in July disappearance

August 13, 2013

Associated Press, 08/12/2013

Hackers have invaded the website of the embattled Rio de Janeiro governor’s party and posted a message calling for light to be shed on a bricklayer’s disappearance.

In their posting Monday, Brazil’s Anonymous chapter urged Gov. Sergio Cabral to get to the bottom of the July 15 disappearance of Amarildo de Souza, who was last seen in police custody.

Souza’s disappearance from Rio’s Rocinha slum has become a hot-button issue in Brazil, further fueling protests against Cabral that have been raging occasionally since June.

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Brazil police occupy drug-infested Rio slum

August 5, 2013

Associated Foreign Press, 08/05/2013

Some 180 elite Brazilian police officers deployed into a drug-infested slum complex in northern Rio on Monday in order to prepare the way for a permanent presence there.

“We are here to stay,” Rio state governor Sergio Cabral told the daily O Dia.

The Mangueirinha complex, located in the Baixada Fluminense district, is home to 25,000 people and comprises the Corte 8, Sapo, Santuario and Mangueirinha favelas.

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Nine killed in Brazil slum violence

June 26, 2013

Al Jazeera, 06/26/2013

At least nine people, including a police officer, have been killed in the Nova Holanda favela in Rio de Janeiro, authorities have said.

Authorities said on Tuesday the deaths occurred following a gun battle between police officers and criminals taking advantage of protests sweeping through the city to loot and steal.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Adam Raney, reporting from the favela, said he saw blood splattered on the walls of the homes of the dead.

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