Rio Police Successfully Occupy Rocinha, Brazil’s Largest Shantytown

By Dialogo
November 15, 2011

On November 13, following an operation that began early in the morning with support from armed vehicles and in which not a single shot was fired, the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro (PM) obtained complete control of the Brazil’s largest shantytown, Rocinha, which had been in the hands of drug traffickers for 30 years.

Following the operation, around 1,000 residents observed an improvised ceremony to raise the Brazilian flag at a central location in the gigantic slum, to symbolize the recovery of this territory controlled by criminals.

On an improvised flagpole, surrounded by a tangle of electrical cables, the officers of the Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) raised the national banner and the Rio de Janeiro state flag, amid cheers.

“Rocinha, Rocinha, Rocinha,” the residents repeated with emotion.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the other forces that participated in the police takeover of this populous shantytown of 120,000 inhabitants, located in the heart of the city’s wealthy neighborhoods.

In the operation, which began around 4 a.m. local time and had support from Navy armored vehicles, the shantytowns of Vidigal and Chácara do Ceu were also occupied.

“There were no incidents, nor any shots fired,” Alberto Pinheiro Neto, head of the PM general staff, was happy to say upon announcing the mission’s success.

The governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral, congratulated the security forces and indicated that he had informed President Dilma Rousseff about the success of the operation.

“We’re recovering [the territory] for this population that needs peace, in order to raise their children in peace, people who want to live with dignity, and any access to a life with dignity is by way of peace,” the responsible official indicated.

The police seized 13 rifles, 10 mortars, 1 grenade, ammunition, telescopic sights, and motorbikes, in addition to around 150 kilos of marijuana. One person was arrested, although that individual is not currently linked to the 200 drug traffickers who the authorities estimate remain in the shantytown and who were not detained.

“The triumph that the citizens of Rio had today was the liberation of those people from being at the mercy of a gun. Arms, drugs, ammunition, (wanted) individuals are important, but returning the territory to those who had not had it for 30 years is not a small thing,” the secretary of security for Rio state, José Mariano Beltrame, judged.

Even so, leading trafficker Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, alias Nem, was already arrested earlier in the week while trying to flee hidden in the trunk of a car.

I applaud that n operation of this magnitude was carried out cleanly, with a positive outcome and no lives to mourn. Brazil is a country that is moving forward at a winner's pace. May God continue to bless them. Charlie,
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Sir James of Belize What charade is this, that not a bullet was shot? If during the first day of the invasion there were more than 21 dead. It is stupid to think that a lot of drug dealers and dangerous criminals were going to allow to be easily detained. In any case, these criminals deserved it by all the suffering caused to all those poor innocent people that only try to live in poverty, between night shootings and extortion by traffickers. You publish false and incomplete information. I do not know why are you trying to disguise the reality.