Rio’s police, as part of a new program to take back the city’s favelas (slums) and ghettos from drug lords, moved into the oldest favela in Rio, known as Complexo da Providência, which is located in the central part of the city, early Monday morning.
The program stations police units, known as Pacification Police Forces (UPP), permanently in slums. After they are in control, government services are extended to the local communities.
It can be said that for decades the government in Rio has not provided basic services to slum and ghetto areas – that has been done by the drug lords, or, in some cases, by NGOs and social groups, but always with the acquiescence of drug gangs.
The assault was led by 95 men from the Special Operations Battalion (Bope) and another 150 men from a Shock Battalion, a kind of SWAT team.
They took over the hill where Providência is located – Rio slums dot the city’s many hills – and two other adjacent hillside ghettos, known as Pedra Lisa and Moreira Pinto.
According to the commander of the Bope unit, lieutenant colonel Paulo Henrique de Moraes, there was no resistance in the ghetto. “Everything went according to plan because we knew that the drug gangs in the area were divided into rival factions and would not put up a fight.”
Moraes said that there were still some 40 areas in the city where UPP groups would eventually go into action. Rio has a lot of poor people and many hills.
Meanwhile, the secretary of Public Security, José Mariano Beltrame, revealed that this year another 8 UPP groups would be installed in favelas, extending control and services to around 120,000 inhabitants.
Beltrame said the principal benefits the population in communities formerly controlled by drug traffic gets from UPP operations are safety and social assistance.