The long awaited invasion of Rio's largest favela by rival drug traffickers
finally happened, leaving at least three dead. In the early hours of Good
Friday a group of 30 armed men tried to enter Rocinha from the surrounding
In the shootout that followed two
residents were killed by stray bullets: 27-year-old Welington da Silva and
24-year-old Fabiana dos Santos Oliveira. Another seven locals were taken to
a nearby hospital, two seriously injured.
"This is exactly what we were
trying to avoid," said police commander Renato Hottz. "Unfortunately
we didn't achieve the right effect."
The favela has been on alert
since February when a former drug lord escaped from prison. At the time it
was widely publicised that Eduíno Eustáquio de Araújoalso
known as Duduwould try to seize control from Rocinha's current boss,
23-year-old Luciano Barbosa da Silva, or Lulu.
"Their objective is to get
in and kill all of their rivals," added Hottz, of Dudu's rival faction
within the Comando Vermelho (Red Command).
Rocinha is the principal point
of drug trafficking in the city. According to police, the trade generates
some R$ 10 million (US$ 3.3 million) each week.
A woman was also killed on a nearby
main road when traffickers from Vidigal tried to steal her car for use in
the invasion. 38-year-old Telma Veloso Pinto was driving home with her son
and nephew when she saw the so-called 'false blitz'. The traffickers opened
fire when she didn't stop, killing her and wounding her 16-year-old son in
However, the second attempted invasion
in a week failed, and police arrested five suspected traffickers. An extra
380 police are now occupying the two communities. Despite this violence broke
out again on Friday evening. According to early reports one police officer
was killed in a shootout with traffickers.
Rio's mayor, Cesar Maia, blamed
the escalating violence on state security minister, and aspiring president,
"Every day it becomes clearer
that the security department is losing more than a few battles: it is losing
the war," he told O Dia newspaper.
"Garotinho has put on several
performances: operation asphyxiate, [police] occupation, [making] contact
with community leaders, but the facts show that none of this is anything more
Since rumours of an invasion surfaced
in February, the community has been relatively quiet. Tour guides, who at
the time avoided parts of the favela, had returned to their usual programs.
"It seems to have quietened
down," the boss of Favela Tour, Marcelo Armstrong, told Brazzil on Wednesday
in Rocinha. "I hope that it has anyway."
forty-eight hours later the calm had been replaced by uncertainty.
Three people, all unconnected with tráfico,
Tom Phillips is a British journalist living in Rio de Janeiro. He writes
for a variety of publications on politics and current affairs, as well as
various aspects of the cultura brasileira. Tom can be reached on email@example.com