Favela Occupations near Rio to Require 1,500 Agents

By Dialogo
August 09, 2013

The occupation of the 15 favelas within Complexo da Maré, near Rio’s international airport, will require an operation of 1,500 agents, the new commander of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police (PM), Colonel José Luis Castro Menezes, stated on August 8. The authorities have been planning the retake of these favelas for months, where 75,000 people live and are dominated by drug trafficking.

“We are not occupying Maré at this moment. We are planning the operation that will entail some 1,500 Military Police agents. So, it is a challenge,” the new commander of the PM stated. In addition to police officers, hundreds of members of the armed forces usually take part in these operations.

The occupation of Complexo da Maré is part of the strategy started in 2008 by government authorities in order to improve security in Rio, one of the cities that will host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In June, nine people died during the Confederations Cup during an operation by the Military Police Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) in Maré, following the death of a division sergeant who was shot in the head in one of the favelas of the Complexo.

Dozens of favelas dominated by drug traffickers and paramilitary militias have been retaken by the police and the military since 2008, and the government has set up 33 Police Pacification Units (UPP) in these slums.

Menezes took his position on August 6, replacing Colonel Erir Ribeiro da Costa Filho, who had been dismissed from his post the day before, after revoking the mild sanctions imposed on 450 police officers without permission from his boss.