There were celebration this past weekend in the hillside slums of Penha and Morro do Alemão, located in the north area (Zona Norte) of Rio de Janeiro. After decades in the hands of drug dealers, the area was brought back under state and city government control through the program known as UPPs.
Armed police units are sent to pacify the area and when that is done, residents are offered normal services by the state and city. The celebration this weekend marked six months since the UPP began. The acronym stands for Police Pacification Unit.
The highlight of the Sunday events was a race through the streets, called the Peace Race. A total of 40,000 reais (US$ 24.6) was given in prizes, half of the money went to local residents. About one thousand people ran in the race, some of them were professional runners.
The governor of the state of Rio, Sergio Cabral, and other state and city authorities attended the ceremonies marking the occasion. Among them the state secretary of Public Security and the commander of the Pacification Force.
Some 40 members of special operations police units (BOPE), who were involved in taking the slum back from drug dealers six months ago, also ran in the race.
According to the secretary of Public Security, José Mariano Beltrame, the race and celebration showed that the slum areas are once again a part of society, and the inhabitants able to exercise their rights and duties of full citizenship.
Meanwhile, in Brazilian capital Brasília, during the debates on the new Land Use Code (Código Florestal) in the House of Representatives last week the author of the bill, deputy Aldo Rebelo (PCdoB) accused the husband of the former minister of Environment, Marina Silva, of questionable business relations with federal agencies connected to the Ministry of Environment.
Rebelo claimed that when Marina was minister he acted to protect her husband from being subpoenaed to appear before a congressional commission investigating his business relations.
This weekend Marina Silva announced that she will request an investigation of the accusations by the Federal Police in order to clear her husband’s name.
Marina declared that the accusations against her husband came from “…people whose spurious interests were blocked by decisions I made when I was the minister of Environment and cracked downed on illegal commerce of lumber and criminal deforestation in the Amazon.”