Bullet hole in the window of the UPP in Nova Brasília. Photo credit: Jornal do Brasil
On the night of Monday, July 23rd, residents of the Complexo do Alemão were alarmed to hear gunfire and an explosion near the Itararé gondola station. Police claim that twelve men armed with assault rifles attacked the Nova Brasília Police Pacification Unit (UPP); the subsequent firefight lasted forty minutes and left one resident wounded and one police officer dead. Fabiana Aparecida de Souza was shot while returning to the UPP after her break; a bullet pierced her bulletproof vest. She is the first UPP officer to be killed in the line of duty in a pacified favela.
Officer Fabiana Aparecida de Souza. Photo credit: Veja
On Tuesday the Special Police Operations Battalion and the Canine Unit patrolled Nova Brasília and the surrounding communities. Three suspects were arrested in connection with the attack, and a backpack containing drug paraphernalia and homemade grenade was confiscated.
Posted in Crime, José Mariano Beltrame, News, Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral, UPP
Tagged BOPE, Complexo do Alemão, Disque-Denúncia, Força de Pacificação, Ignacio Cano, José Mariano Beltrame, Polícia Militar, Sergio Cabral, UPP
Abandoned building on the grounds of São Sebastião hospital occupied by displaced families. Photo credit: O Globo
São Sebastião Institute of Infectious Diseases was inaugurated in 1889 by Dom Pedro II, the last emperor of Brazil, just a few days before the Empire dissolved. It was the only medical facility in the city specializing in contagious diseases, as well as the first in Brazil to separate patients with different diseases. In 2002 the hospital handled a dengue outbreak, treating thousands of patients without a single fatality. It was shut down in 2008, partly due to violent conflicts in the area, and the research institute was moved to a smaller site.
The hospital located in Caju, a neighborhood in Rio’s Port Zone best known for São Francisco Xavier cemetery, the largest in the city. Caju is a peninsula cut off from the mainland by two major freeways, Avenida Brasil and Linha Vermelha. Like the rest of the Port Zone, it has been neglected by the government and is fairly rundown. São Sebastião is near the favelas São Sebastião, Parque Alegria, Parque Ladeira dos Funcionários, and Chatuba, all allegedly controlled by Amigos dos Amigos, one of the largest gangs in Rio. As traffic-related violence increased in the early 2000s, patients and staff alike were frightened to enter the region. Continue reading
Posted in Crime, Investment, News, Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral
Tagged Amigos dos Amigos, BOPE, Caju, Favela evictions, Polícia Militar, Sergio Cabral, Zona Portuária
Colonel Mário Sérgio Duarte and Federal Deputy Benedita da Silva at Rio Para Todos debate. Photo credit: Rio Para Todos.
Last Thursday, May 31st, Military Police Commander Mário Sérgio Duarte participated in a debate hosted by Rio Para Todos alongside former governor and current Federal Deputy Benedita da Silva and filmmaker Rodrigo Felha. The debate’s open-ended theme “Favela or Community? Inequalities and Opportunities” generated lively discussions of favela urbanization, the changing perception of favelas in the media, and the failures and successes of the UPP program.
Col. Duarte, who resigned last September after a Military Police battalion commander was implicated in the murder of Judge Patrícia Acioli, fielded questions on all aspects of UPP policy, from the desperate need for more policing in Nova Iguaçu to the lack of recreation facilities for young people in pacified communities. He was careful to emphasize the difference between UPP and UPP Social, though he acknowledged the importance of both: “The police are no longer so naive as to think that their presence in the community is enough; it must be accompanied by social programs.”
At one point, Col. Duarte admitted that the police invaded the Complexo do Alemão before they were fully prepared, and were forced to lean heavily on the Army. The invasion was made possible by reinforcements sent from other states, and the Army remained in the area much longer than expected. Duarte stated that pacification must take place during a “window of opportunity”, and that the police seized such an opportunity in Alemão.
The UPP program’s dependence on the Army to secure the favelas in the North Zone drew closer to an end last week, as the Pacification Force in the Complexo da Penha ceded control of the area to BOPE and the Shock Battalion. Military Police officers replaced soldiers in the communities Morro da Fé, Chatuba, Caixa d’Água and Morro do Sereno. Vila Cruzeiro, the largest community in Penha, will remain under Army control until the second stage of the police operation.
Posted in News, Rio de Janeiro, UPP
Tagged Batalhão do Choque, BOPE, Colonel Mário Sérgio Duarte, Comando Vermelho, Complexo da Maré, Complexo da Penha, Complexo do Alemão, Força de Pacificação, Polícia Militar, Rocinha
Morro de São Carlos
Translation of article “Beltrame via reforçar UPP no Morro de São Carlos.” From Repórter de Crime, O Globo, published February 21, 2012.
This morning Rio de Janeiro’s Security Secretary, José Mariano Beltrame, told the blog Repórter de Crime that he plans to send troops from the Military Police’s Shock Battalion and Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) to provide support to some Police Pacification Units (UPPs). Beltrame stated that UPPs in areas that have seen conflicts between police and residents, as well as armed clashes with drug traffickers, may receive reinforcements.
“This Thursday we will discuss the possibility of sending additional troops to support UPPs, to distribute pamphlets, and to encourage favela residents to turn in traffickers,” Beltrame stated. He acknowledged that there are obstacles to pacification in the favela Morro de São Carlos, in Estació, where the chief drug trafficker was arrested yesterday morning after a shootout between police and traffickers. Wendel Timóteo Rodrigues Nunes, 14, was shot in the back during the skirmish, and a Military Police car was burned by traffickers. The shootout took place during the Carnaval street party “Boi sem chifre,” leaving almost a hundred people caught in the crossfire. Continue reading
Protest in Copacabana, January 29, photo credit: Jornal do Brasil
Rio de Janeiro’s Military Police are threatening a general strike in response to working conditions and low salaries. The movement is driven largely by Police Pacification Unit (UPP) officers who allege that they work more than seventy hours per week. The city’s firefighters and Civil Police may strike as well. The strike will begin on February 10th, a week before Carnaval, unless the city meets their demands, which include a meeting with Governor Sérgio Cabral and a monthly minimum wage of R$3,500 (approximately 2,000 USD). Military police officers throughout Rio de Janeiro state currently make between R$1,277 and R$1,471 (730 and 850 USD), the lowest salary in the country in this category. About 5,000 people turned out to support the strike at a protest in Copacabana on Sunday.
Protest sign reads: "UPP will stop"
According to an article in Terra, a Military Police strike this month is “inevitable,” and will leave the “without routine policing” during Carnaval. The article quotes Corporal João Carlos Soares Gurgel, one of the leaders of the movement:
“Our leaders…hide behind cowardly regulations that allow them to arrest us if we rebel. Today we live in conditions comparable to slavery.”
Posted in News, Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral, UPP
Tagged Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais, Batalhão do Choque, BOPE, Corpo de Bombeiros, Erir Ribeiro Costa Filho, Guarda Municipal, Polícia Civil, Polícia Militar, Sergio Cabral
View of Rio's North Zone
Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame faced a series of situations in 2011 that shook public confidence in law enforcement: Numerous instances of police corruption came to light. Judge Patrícia Acioli was murdered at the order of a Military Police officer; this revelation led to the resignation of the PM commander. The Military Police’s elite force, BOPE, has been accused of human rights violations. The past year will also be remembered for Beltrame’s successes, most notably the peaceful invasion of Rocinha. Five UPPs were installed, two of them in the large favelas of São Carlos and Mangueira. Three of Rio’s most wanted drug traffickers, Polegar, Marcelinho Niterói, and Nem da Rocinha, were arrested or killed.
Security Secretary Beltrame
In the following interview, Beltrame discusses anti-corruption strategies, pacifying Rio’s North Zone, and gambling rings.
Translation of article “‘A Zone Norte é a bola da vez: Jacarezinho, Maré, e Manguinhos’, diz Beltrame.” Published by O Dia on December 24, 2011.
O Dia - How was 2011, secretary? It started poorly and ended well, with the occupation of Rocinha.
Beltrame - I am very skeptical of victories. I always believe that things are better than they were, but what comes next is what matters.
Posted in Crime, Interview, José Mariano Beltrame, Rio de Janeiro, UPP
Tagged BOPE, Colonel Mário Sérgio Duarte, Complexo da Maré, Jacarezinho, jogo do bicho, José Mariano Beltrame, Manguinhos, Patricia Acioli, police corruption, Polícia Civil, Polícia Federal, Polícia Militar, Rocinha, Santa Teresa, UPP
Ricardo Eletro, an electronics store that was robbed on Monday, photo credit: Último Segundo
Before Rocinha was pacified, many residents worried about their security during the period before the installation of a UPP. Nem, the ex-chief of the favela, did not permit muggings or assaults on stores while he was in power; offenders were beaten or executed. Now, with drug traffickers in prison or in hiding, and law enforcement still finding its footing in the community, Rocinha is in a state of uncertainty. As one resident told Rio Radar: “There’s no more security here, and something bad could happen to you.”
Three Rocinha businesses were robbed this week: an electronics store and two food markets. From O Dia, published December 12, 2011:
“An electronics and appliances store in Favela da Rocinha, South Zone, was robbed this Monday night. Eight armed men entered the establishment, on Estrada da Gávea, Rocinha’s main street, around 10PM (the store was open late for the holidays) and announced the robbery…The group took cell phones, laptops, TVs, and money, and fled the scene.”
Pacification Force in the Complexo do Alemão, photo credit: Ultimo Segundo
This November marked the one-year anniversary of the military invasion of the Complexo do Alemão. After a violent beginning, the so-called “War for Rio,” the occupation of Alemão has been relatively peaceful, excepting a few clashes between soldiers and traffickers in September 2011. Although the Army was scheduled to withdraw in October, Governor Sérgio Cabral requested an extension to plan the installation of eight Police Pacification Units; the Army will remain in the region until June 2012. This week security officials discussed the price of the occupation thus far.
Translation of article “Ocupação do Complexo do Alemão já custou atê R$160 milhões.” Published in O Globo on November 28, 2011.
RIO – The Pacification Force, made up of army officers, occupied the Alemão and Penha complexes exactly a year ago on Monday. The Force has already cost the Ministry of Defense between R$150 and R$160 million [between USD 85 and 90 million]. This information was released on Monday by the commander of the Eastern Military Command (Comando Militar do Leste, or CML), General Adriano Pereira Júnior. Without discussing expenditures in detail, the general said that part of the money was spent on equipment.
While media attention was focused on Rocinha, police were carrying out major operations in the Complexo da Maré, in Rio’s North Zone. “Operation Thunder” was intended to combat a gang that operates in Maré, and to clear the area for the installation of the Special Operations Center (Centro de Operações Especiais, or COE). The COE, which will open in the next few weeks, will house the Military’s elite squad, BOPE, replacing the current headquarters in Catete.
BOPE caveirão (armored vehicle) in Maré
BOPE has been present in Maré on and off for the past two months. In late October a group of organizations within the community released a statement accusing BOPE of human rights violations and requesting a suspension of police operations until the issue was addressed. The statement also requested a meeting with Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame and the commander of BOPE. Operations in Maré continued, and this week a resident was killed by a stray bullet.
Translation of article “Homem morreu baleado durante operação da policia na Maré.” From O Dia, published November 22, 2011.
RIO – A man identified as Altair Bento de Oliveira, 26, was shot and killed this Tuesday morning during a Civil Police operation in the Maré favela complex, in Rio’sNorth Zone. He was killed in front of his house at 51 Rua Ari Leão. Operação Trovão (“Operation Thunder”), which is being carried out in the Parque União and Nova Holanda communities, is driven by four arrest warrants and six search warrants against a gang accused of kidnapping, car theft, and housebreaking in Ilha do Governador and its surroundings. Three people have already been detained.
Rocinha, one of the largest favelas in Rio, was invaded early yesterday morning by BOPE
, the Shock Battalion, the Military
, Federal, and Civil Police
, reinforced by armored personnel carriers and light tanks. The invasion, called “Operation Shock of Peace” was intended to clear the remaining rug traffickers out of the community in preparation for the installation of a UPP
–the last and largest in Rio’s South Zone. Authorities and residents were apprehensive about the operation, given that Rocinha is a large favela with an entrenched criminal infrastructure; however, after Nem, Rocinha’s chief trafficker, was captured
, a firefight seemed unlikely. The invasion made front page news in Rio
, and the international media took note as well; the operation was covered by the New York Times
, and many more.
BOPE truck in Rocinha
This week Rio Radar will publish an interview with a Rocinha resident about the prospect of pacification. RR editor Zoë Roller was in Rocinha on the day of the invasion and wrote the following observations.
Posted in News, Rio de Janeiro, UPP
Tagged BOPE, Col. Pinheiro Neto, Lt. Col. Wilman René Gonçalves Alonso, Nem, Polícia Civil, Polícia Federal, Polícia Militar, Rocinha, UPP