Luciano Barbosa da Silvauntil Wednesday the drug lord in charge of Rio's
largest favelanow shares a cemetery with bossa nova legend
Tom Jobim. His plot, number 524, is another anonymous, concrete grave at the
São João Batista cemetery in Botafogo.
Beneath lie palm bouquets
and tributes: "Distance allows us to feel saudade (longing) but
not to forget," reads one. "An homage from your friends and family,"
says another, both unsigned. Etched into the concretestill wet after
the burialis the only hint of whose corpse is inside: "Luciano
(Lulu) 524 CV."
According to reports,
the 27-year-old was killed on Wednesday in a shootout with police in Rocinha.
Rumours have since surfaced that the Comando Vermelho (CV, Red Command)the
gang to which he belongedhad a hand in his killing.
It emerged in February
that a rival faction within the `CV'led by Eduíno de Araújo
or Duduwould try to retake control of Rocinha's R$ 10 million (US$ 3.3
million) a week drug trade. Last Friday, an army led by Dudu tried unsuccessfully
to invade the São Conrado favela.
In the days that followed,
some 1,300 police occupied the community. On day six of the conflict Luluand
another suspected trafficker, Ronaldo Araújo Silvawere killed,
apparently by police. One police source in Rocinha warned the death could
trigger further violence. Twelve lives have already been claimed by the conflict.
According to the source,
a rival drug gangThe Terceiro Comando or Third Commandmight now
be able to take control of Rocinha. If successful, the group would then be
likely to invade neighboring favela Vidigal, which was used as a base by Dudu.
"There are 2 options,"
he told Brazzil. "Either Dudu really will come back and take over
and everything will go back to how it was before. Or Rocinha [under the Third
Command] will attack Vidigal."
"If you worked for
a newspaper and there was a difference of opinions with your boss you'd go
and work for another paper. Similarly if the actual `Comando Vermelho' ordered
the invasion of Rocinha then it's going to pass to the othersthe Terceiro
Comando. And they [the Terceiro Comando] are crazy for this to happen. Then
they'll attack Vigidal."
Over 200 people attended
da Silva's funeral in Rio. Eight local buses took Lulu's friends and admirers
from Rocinha to pay their final respects. Large numbers of policeincluding
shock troopswere also present, many carrying machine guns or rifles.
There were violent scenes
as journalists tried to enter the cemetery. One reporter was injured when
a rock was thrown from a first floor window, at the entrance to the cemetery's
chapel. "We don't want this shit here," shouted one of Lulu's friends,
wearing sunglasses and drinking beer. "If you print my photo, you're
dead," a girlfriend screamed at photographers.
As the high attendance
might suggest, Lulu enjoyed a good reputation with residents of Rocinha. Since
he became the favela's `owner' in 1999, Rocinha has lived a period
of relative calm. Yesterday, shops in the favela remained closed at
the orders of traffickers. Some said it was a sign of respect from the community.
"Lulu had a sense
of morality," said one resident, who wished not to be identified. "He
respected everybody, and he didn't let the gang mess with residents, or attack
or rob them. That's why he died."
Many residents fear the
possible take over of the violent Dudu. "He's a nasty piece of work.
One day he saw this tasty fourteen year-old girl, and picked her up and raped
her. He doesn't have scruples. Lulu was different," one said.
According to one story,
Dudu used to feed his enemies to a pet alligator. Many of those present at
the burial chanted: "Dudu, you just wait for your hour to arrive."
Others were less sympathetic
towards the dead traficante. "I want a picture of the view Lulu's
going to have every night," joked one journalist at the graveside, which
looks onto the world-famous Corcovado. "What shall we write on our tribute?"
But whilst Lulu has now
found some kind of peace, Rocinha's future remains uncertain. "Rocinha's
future is in the hands of God," Residents Association president, William
de Oliveira, told one paper on Wednesday.
Another policeman told
the press that "anything could happen." "I think that we'll
have a better defined situation in the next ten days," he added.
The São João
Batista cemetery is home to many of Brazil's rich and famous. Tom Jobim, Clara
Nunes and Carmen Miranda are all buried here in tombs that cost up to R$ 160,000
(US$ 50,000). Alongside them lie many of Rio's notorious bandidos:
including Marcinho VP, former drug lord of the nearby favela of Santa
"I've lost count
of how many traffickers are buried here," said the graveyard guard Roberto
Campos, showing Brazzil to Lulu's plot.
Perhaps not through coincidence
Lulu's older brotherthe trafficker Cassiano Barbosa da Silva, killed
by police in 1988is also buried here.
Outside Chapel 5, where
Lulu's body was held before burial, a piece of graffiti captured the mood
perfectly. "Família camicaze [sic]," it said. "Kamikaze
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