Brazilian Army Troops Are Deployed in Rio De Janeiro City to Counter Drug-Related Shoot-Out

By: Fernando Oliveira
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – On September 23th, 2017, Brazilian Defense Minister Raul Jungmann authorized the deployment of about 950 federal army soldiers in Rio de Janeiro city, given the formal state government request of assistance to face the worsening of drug-related violence.

Brazilian army progressing within Rocinha, while neighbors pass through – Picture courtesy of O Globo.

After a whole week of several fire shooting episodes, last Saturday, September 23,  Rio de Janeiro city awoke with a war scenario surrounding one of its biggest favelas, named Rocinha. Armored tanks were on the streets, military helicopters in the sky, and roads were blocked in order to help the cash-strapped state police forces step into the slum area.

Rocinha – as many other Rio`s favelas – is a very poor neighborhood located in the Southern area of the city, not far from some of the most expensive real estate areas. It has about 70,000 inhabitants which were under trafficking gang rules until 2011, when the state government set forth a “pacification program” that pushed criminals, mainly drug dealers, out of the slum.

However, soon after the 2016 Summer Olympics, a wide spread corruption scandal led the former state governor, Sergio Cabral, to jail. According to federal prosecutors, he was the leader of a huge bribery mafia that diverted millions of dollars from state sources, and has been sentenced to more than 45 years in prison. As a consequence, state institutions, including the state police department, have run out of money and the “pacification program” – which had originally been successfully implemented in several favelas – began to run down.

As the “pacification program” weakened, the drug gangs went back to Rocinha. Currently, they are completely reinstalled, and started to fight among them toward controlling the worthiest drug trade points within the slum. War weapons, such as rifles AR-15 and grenades, are constantly used by the drug traffickers on rival gang firefights, and also against the state police forces. Be that as it may, the only hope for the poor Rocinha’s population is to believe that the federal troops will reestablish the order in the neighborhood, and life will return to normal.

For further information, please see:

Reuters — Brazil army deploys in Rio slum as drug-related violence worsens – 22 September 2017

Washington Post – Army mobilizes in Rio as shootings erupt in several areas – 22 September 2017

New York Times – Sérgio Cabral, Ex-Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Arrested on Corruption Charges – 17 November 2016

Wall Street Journal – Brazil Judge Sentences Ex-Rio Governor to 14 Years in Corruption Case – 13 June 2017

Foha de São Paulo – Ex-Governor of Rio de Janeiro Sérgio Cabral Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison – 21 September 2017

Favela Poor Forced Out Of Homes For World Cup and Olympics in Brazil

By Emilee Gaebler
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BRASILIA, Brazil– Preparations for hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics are in full swing.  As the Brazilian government works hard to improve the infrastructures of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro thousands are being forced out of their homes.

Berenice Maria das Neves evicted from her home
Berenice Maria das Neves evicted from her home. (Photo Courtesy of BBC News)

The communities that are bearing the brunt of these “urbanization” projects are Brazil’s poorest, the favelas.  In Rio de Janeiro, those living in the favelas in the Zona Norte (North Zone) and Zona Oueste (West Zone) are being relocated to make way for new roadways and new buildings.

Berenice Maria das Neves, a resident of one of the favelas leveled in Rio de Janeiro was forced out in late May.  She received a summons in the mail to appear at City Hall and once there was told her house had been condemned.  She was given a check for 8,000 reais (US $5000) as compensation and her home was a pile of rubble before she even returned from City Hall. 

She now faces the challenge of finding a new home, which will be quite the challenge as, “[w]hat use is 8,000 reais?  I’d need at least four times as much to find a house to buy” she says.

Carlos Nuzman, the chairman for the Rio Olympics organizing committee, points to the rehousing programs to justify these forced evictions.  The three programs; “Vila Nova Chocolatão,” “Growth Acceleration Program” and “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” center on the development of housing projects for low income families in the suburbs of the cities but the projects are far from the city center.  Those who do take up residence are forced to live 30 miles or more from where they work.

Human rights groups, monitoring the forced evictions in the favelas, are concerned.  Many express worries that this process is simply a ruse; that Brazil is using the World Cup and Olympics as an excuse to push the poor out of the city centers and free-up land for developers to make profits off of. 

A local councilor, Eliomar Coelho, said, “[t]his is a clear example of how the government treats the poor.  A big opportunity has been missed.  Instead of being better off as a result of the boom, these people will end up worse off.  It’s a complete violation of their human rights.”

Also disturbing, is the growing number of reports that the militia has taken advantage of the relocation situation.  These reports indicate that the militia is forcing newly relocated families out of their low-income houses and then putting the houses up for sale.


For more information, please see;

Global Issues –Brazil: More Community Input Needed In Relocation of Favelas – 5 July 2011

Prospect Journal of International Affairs at UCSD – Human Rights Abuses in Brazil’s Favelas in Preparation for World Cup and Olympics: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo – July 2011

BBC News – Rio Olympics: Favela Poor Evicted as City Spruced Up – 30 June 2011

The Rio Times – Minha Casa, Minha Vida Phase Two – 21 June 2011

The Rio Times – Favelas Moved for World Cup and Olympics – 10 May 2011