5 thoughts on “Rio’s slum faces challenges after pacification – CNN Interview with Verena Brähler (15 November 2011)

  1. One more thought, I have mixed feelings regarding these interventions and the motive behind them (the World Championship, etc.) Why they haven’t done them before? Do they really need this movie-type intervention? What do you think about it?


  2. What you said about the “timing” of the pacification is indeed very interesting. Rio’s state government uses the World Cup 2014 and the Olympics 2016 as windows of opportunity to address public security issues that, in fact, had been on the agenda for several decades. The difference now is that there is a bigger political and media support, as well as financial sponsoring from the federal government to go through with it. A former BOPE policeman confirmed to be in an interview last year that the media has “adopted” the Police Pacification Units (UPPs) and criticism is very rare.

    As you rightly pointed out, the footage of the Rocinha pacification creates the impression of watching a war in an action movie, not the domestic response to crack down on drug traffickers in one of the biggest cities in the world. What happened in Rocinha now is, in fact, only the first phase of a 4-step pacification process, including:
    1) Retaking of state territory (by BOPE and the armed forces)
    2) Stabilisation (by BOPE and the armed forces)
    3) Definitive Occupation (by the UPPs)
    4) Post-Occupation (by UPP Social)
    So we can see that the complete pacification process takes a very long time. The Complexo do Alemão, for instance, was occupied by the armed forces in November 2010 and is still in the period of stabilisation. A permanent Police Pacification Unit (UPP) has not been installed yet and, according to some UPP officials that I interviewed, it will probably only happen in March 2012. This is mainly due to the fact that the recruitment and training of the new UPP policemen and –women is very time-consuming. Only 500 UPP police are trained each year. Due to its enormous sizes, Complexo do Alemão and Rocinha will each need a UPP unit with around 1,000 police officers.

    However, it is still fair to say that the UPPs are the best of progressive policing that we have seen in Rio in the past three decades. However, so far only 19 favelas have been pacified, and a further 21 will follow until 2014. Yet Rio de Janeiro has more than 1,000 favelas. Last Saturday I visited the favela Vila Aliança, two hours away from the South Zone. I had the chance to talk to the founders of the “Centro Cultural A Historia Que Eu Conto” who are doing an excellent job in investing into the cultural heritage of the community. However, they seem to be the only ones. Vila Aliança has not benefitted from any of the huge infrastructure investments in Rio and – according to the residents – police only enter the community during shootouts with the drug traffickers. I have my doubts that Vila Aliança and other places with similar characteristics will ever make part of a government “pacification” plan.


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