Eu amo o Rio de Janeiro

As many of you may already know, Rio is having horrible days of terror since this last week. The police has received the help of the Army to fight the wave of violent attacks promoted by the drug traffic leaders.

What seems different to me this time is that the violence now has happened in response to some reaction (finally!) by the government/police in handling the issue.

The problem of violence in the most charming and beautiful city in Brazil is one that I don’t dare to discuss in detail. It is rooted in too many complicated aspects that go from abandonment by the government to lack of social and political  initiatives which is a recurring problem in Brazil history since its beginning as a country!

If you don’t know what is going on in Rio right now, check out the two links at the end. They are in either English or Portuguese with English subtitles; which is a great listening-comprehension exercise for Portuguese students of all levels.)

Besides the links that I just mentioned, I suggest that you watch a documentary if you are interested in more detailed information on Rio’s violence issues. It is called Peace in the Favelas, and it was done before the latest happenings in Rio. It explains what the UPPs are (Police Pacifying Units), what this project has achieved, and also what cannot be achieved only by it.

I can summarize by saying that the UPPs are a project initiated in Rio two years ago. These Police Pacifying Units have entered — and pacified — 12 out of the over 600 favelas that exist in Rio. It’s just a beginning, but it already shows some very nice success stories.

The project has forced gangs & drug traffic criminals to run away from the pacified zones. They are still pretty strong and present in many of Rio’s shantytowns, like in the Complexo do Alemão. In the documentary, you will see that they mention the Complexo do Alemão which is the complex of favelas that are under attack now. The population of this area has lived years under the drug traffic control, and is mostly supporting the presence of the police.

But back to the UPPs…

Why didn’t the government do something like this before?

Why only now?

Well… the enormous national and international pressure due to the fact that Rio will host the World Cup 2014 and the Olympic Games 2016 is, of course, one of the biggest reasons. The financial/economical ‘incentives’ of such events have prompted such urge!

I know, it is sad that it was not done before, like any government should do for its people.

But…whatever…. I don’t care what it takes. If it takes the greed for the money that those events will inject in Brazil to make the government act on the problem, then may more and more events like that come to the country!!!

I hope you enjoy watching the documentary. Not that it is ‘enjoyable’ to see the harsh reality of the people who live in the shantytowns of Rio, or to watch the images of an ‘urban war’ taking place. It certainly is not! But when I say ‘enjoy’ I mean that I hope it brings you a feeling of hope in our power as citizens, as police, as government, and as communities — our power to change a reality that is ugly; to bring peace and harmony not only to Rio, but to Brazil, and to the rest of the world.

Call me naive, but I can’t stop being a believer, and projects like this one do make me feel hopeful.

And here are the links that I mentioned in the beginning:

The last days in Rio: Brazil forces fight Rio gangs – an update on the wave of violence in Rio

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/11/20101127154425187238.html

Fighting crime in Brazil’s slums – UPPs: what provoked this reaction by the traffic gangs?

 http://english.aljazeera.net/video/americas/2010/09/2010929135025995118.html

Let me know what you think!

Vanessa

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