Just a few months before Rio de Janeiro welcomes visitors for the World Cup, and two years before it hosts the Olympics, security within the city remains a major issue.
The government currently promotes the policy of “pacification”, where security forces engage in raids, drug busts, and even gunfights with suspected gang members. This pacification policy is supposed to pave the way for the development of long-neglected favelas in Rio, Brazil’s second-biggest city and home to 11 million people.
Rio’s government has established the Pacifying Police Unit, a military police team with the intent of establishing security and diminishing criminality with force.
These police units stand at the centre of Rio Governor Sergio Cabral Filho’s security strategy. They have set up permanent stations in the working class areas or favelas in order to conduct routine patrols and to be able to quickly respond to gang activity, such as Comando Vermelho and Amigos dos Amigos (ADA), two large and often violent criminal organisations. There are now approximately 34 Pacifying Police Units in Rio, controlling more than 100 favelas where hundreds of thousands reside.
However, many of the favelas remain in the hands of an army of drug dealers and criminals who are not willing to step down or be pacified.
While on patrol, each member of the unit is trained to look for suspicious activity and to provide cover for the other members.
Gang members and drug dealers pose along the perimeter of their turf in order to stop the entry of security officials and members of rival gangs.
A desolated street in a favela. UPP operates in favelas that have not paid for public utilities. These favelas instead, give money to the controlling criminal organisations, leading to widespread tax evasion.
– Al Jazeera