Brazil’s Lula Decides to Compete with Mobsters Offering Help to Favelas

Lula make speech in Rio de Janeiro Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced this Monday, July 1st, in Rio de Janeiro, how the federal Growth Acceleration Program (PAC) will impact Rio's life. The help package, including federal, state and city resources will add to more than US$ 1.97 billion (3,8 billion reais).

This money is to be used in basic sanitation, housing and urbanization of poor communities in 15 municipalities in the state of Rio de Janeiro, 12 of them in Rio's metropolitan area.

According to the president's chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff, the projects were chosen according to three criteria: existence of a basic project, previous environmental license and land regularization. "We wanted projects that could still be started this year," she explained.

And the audience applauded when the minister guaranteed that the PAC has been conceived without party interests in mind: "This is the core program of Lula's administration second stage and it has two priorities: to really accelerate the country's growth and to deliver more income to the population."

In the morning, talking in São Paulo, Lula stated that the narcotraffic would become the real authority in some favelas (slums) and ghettoes if the State were remiss in its role of providing social benefits and security to people. The president said that his government is ready to compete with the traffickers with the certainty that it can defeat the drug lords.

"If the State cannot fulfill its role of giving conditions to the people, the narcotraffic will, the organized crime will. We want to compete with the organized crime, with the certainty that we will only defeat it when we manage to bring help to the poorest places in the country," he stated during the festivities to celebrate the 50 years of Sweden-based truck manufacturer Scania in Brazil.

The PAC will pay for projects in 29 Rio favelas. In the Alemão complex, for example, a favela community where 44 people have been killed and another 81 wounded in two months of police operations against the local drug lords -  the investment will reach US$ 257 million (495 million reais). Among the undertakings to be built in the area is a cable car.

Manguinhos, another complex, with 12 favelas, is getting US$ 200 million (385 million reais). Rocinha, considered Latin America's largest slum, will received US$ 57 million (110 million reais). The housing plan calls for three and four-story buildings, which should be given for free to the area's residents.  Those living in hazardous areas will be given priority.

From the money contributed by the federal government US$ 340 million (650 million reais)  will come as a loan to Cedae (Water and Sewage State Company), so it can double the capacity of Guandu's Treatment Station and can fund sanitation and water supply projects in Barra da Tijuca, Jacarepaguá and Recreio dos Bandeirantes. The PAC work should start in September.

Lula defended the police operation in the Alemão complex. According to him, drug traffickers cannot be dealt with "rose petals." "There are those," he said, "who think that's possible to deal with mobsters throwing rose petals or rice powder. We have to face them knowing that often they are better armed than the police. with more sophisticated weapons."

Lula went on to say that crime should also be dealt with investments in education and leisure.

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