Police Seize Rio Slums Without Resistance

By Dialogo
February 08, 2011

Early on 6 February, hundreds of police and military troops occupied nine slums in central Rio de Janeiro that had been in the hands of drug traffickers, in the first such operation since November 2010.

The nearly 1,000 civilian, military and federal police backed by 17 armored vehicles, four amphibian vehicles and marine riflemen faced little opposition in the two-hour operation that kicked off at dawn, officials said.

“The situation is calm and we have completed the first part of the operation — controlling the territory,” military spokesman Colonel Lima Castro told CBN radio.

The security forces were also launching a month-long search for weapons and drugs in the now occupied shantytowns home to some 26,000 inhabitants, part of a plan by authorities to regain control of Rio’s slums.

The city, known for both its beauty and its endemic violence, is the scheduled venue for both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

A first counternarcotics operation was launched in November in the Complexo de Alemao favelas, a bastion of drug traffickers in northern Rio vanquished by 2,600 police and military troops.

“Thank God, the occupation took place peacefully and the community did not suffer,” Morro dos Prazeres favela neighborhood association Elisa Brandao told O Globo newspaper.

She said drug traffickers had left the neighborhood in recent days to avoid confrontation with police who had warned inhabitants about the operation.

Rio state’s Public Security Secretary Mariano Beltrame welcomed the peaceful takeover.

“The priority is to conquer the territory without having more stray bullets, or dead and wounded civilians,” he told reporters, noting the police did not fire a single shot and encountered no drug traffickers.