Note from BW of Brazil: If a picture is worth a thousand words, about 9,000 words of shocking photos give you a brief introduction to life under military occupation. This isn’t my first photographic foray into armed forces keeping Rio’s favelas on lock, but every now and then I think it’s necessary to show what residents who don’t live in ritzy neighborhoods such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon. These photos represent the Rio government’s “Guerra às drogas”, or ‘war on drugs’.
Mind you, I haven’t covered death by stray bullet in Rio’s slums for some time because it’s simply too depressing. But as I’ve written before, the numbers are such that could do a two or three posts a day on an entirely separate blog just to cover how many lives have been taken in this war.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, while Brazil’s media constantly keeps people in fear of the very real drug traffickers in these favelas, what the media doesn’t tell you is that participants in the sale of drugs are less than one percent (see note one). So while you’re viewing these photos, just imagine if you were to witness these scenes, taken from recent operations in the Jacarezinho and Rocinha favelas.
Residents complain about Armed Forces stops in Rocinha
The community remains occupied; the residents complain of excessive frisking and even of verbal and physical aggression
The work of the Armed Forces in Rocinha, supporting the operations of the Civil and Military police, is interfering in the routine of the residents, who complain of the excess of pat downs and even of verbal and physical aggression. Saturday (September 23), the community remained occupied.
“Being searched is not the problem. The worst is the esculacho [disrespect]. I got it twice today. I got kicks in the shin. If I could, I would retaliate,” a young man complained in the lower part of the community, next to a sports court.
Another resident, who had just been searched by men of the Polícia do Exército (PE or Army Police), was outraged: “I have nothing to do with it,” he protested, saying it was already the second pat down of the day.
In the same place, next to the sports court, which is at the exit of the Zuzu Angel Tunnel, a fight between two men who drank in a bar was dispersed by PE men using pepper gas. But the gas spread in the wind and hit a group of women and children, including two six-month-old and four-month-old babies.
“It was horrible. I vomited and my baby’s face is all red,” complained one of the mothers.
The PE sergeant who fired the gas explained that he only used proportional force and that the gas alternative is better than the physical contact. “If we intervene, one of the men can grab our weapons. Unfortunately, the wind was not favorable,” explained the sergeant.
Caveirão runs over a motorcycle
Elsewhere in the community, known as Largo do Boiadeiro, an armored military police tank (PM), known as Caveirão, ran over a motorcycle taxi driver’s taxi. “The damage is about from R$3 thousand. I depend on this work to support my family,” complained Henrique Gonçalves de Araújo.
The Military Command of the East (CML) was searched, but until the publication of this matter had not issued a statement on the residents’ complaint. The PM (Military Police) was also sought, but has not yet commented on the issue of the bike.
Source: Vargas, João H. Costa. (2005). Apartheid brasileiro: raça e segregação residencial no Rio de Janeiro. Revista de Antropologia, 48 (1), 75-131. Master STI
- A 2005 study from the Jacarezinho community in Rio, for example, estimated that those involved in drug trafficking didn’t exceed 100 people. Considering that Jacarezinho has a population of more than 150 thousand people, the proportion of those involved with drugs is 0.07%. (Vargas 2005)