Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

France 24 meets George Weah ahead of inauguration

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gymnast's fierce courtroom address

Read more

THE DEBATE

A whole new world: Trump anniversary special

Read more

#TECH 24

Will artificial intelligence ever surpass the human brain?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Aiding migrants in France: What are the legal implications?

Read more

FOCUS

The challenge of clearing Colombia of landmines

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Gambians reflect on first year of democracy

Read more

FASHION

Pitti Uomo in Florence, the world's largest men's fashion showcase

Read more

ENCORE!

Award-winning Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza on keeping it real

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2011-08-19

Reclaiming Brazil’s Favelas

Mangueira, Rocinha, Providencia, Cidade de deus, Jacarezinho… There are nearly 1000 in the town; favelas are part of the landscape. They all have their own football teams, residents’ associations, and also their drug trafficking gangs. There are three main factions fighting turf wars: the Vermelho Comando, Amigos dos Amigos (the Friends of Friends) and the 3rd Commando.

These armed groups control everything, or near enough, within the favela, from managing a parallel cable television network, to deciding the buses timetables. Those who don’t toe the line find themselves being punished by the ‘traffickers’ court’. The punishments range from being kicked out of the favela to the ‘microwave’ death sentence: being burnt alive in rubber tyres.

The state government of Rio de Janeiro has been trying to take control of these wastelands since 2009. Developing the favelas is a priority after years of attempting to tackle the drug traffickers have failed. The process is to be accelerated in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics approach.

Sergio Cabral, state governor of Rio de Janeiro, has developed a permanent favela programme based on the ‘zero tolerance’ approach of ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giulliani which cleaned up the Big Apple. This new policing policy can be summed up in three letters: PPU, Police Pacification Unit.

A version of Military Police outposts have been set up in strategically important locations in hundreds of favelas in the town. The first priority of these units is to get rid of the criminal organizations.

The aim is to prevent them from returning by building up trust between the military police and the local population, holding courses in the PPU, and bringing public and private facilities into these communities. The 17th PPU has just been established in Sao Carlos. But the target is to set up forty units in Rio before 2014.

The transition from the tactics of the elite police units to the launch of the PPU will take time and money. The number of military police is to rise from 32,000 officers to 64,000. But in Rio de Janeiro the economic consequences of the ‘pacification’ are immediate: in the neighbourhoods which have the PPU, house prices have soared. Beyond the security reasons for the peacekeeping programme, there are economics at play. The thousand favelas in the town, with nearly 1 million inhabitants, represent a giant consumer market, just waiting to be exploited.
 

By Nicolas RANSOM

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-01-19 Iraq

Exclusive: On the frontline with Shiite militias in Iraq

In December 2017, the Iraqi government announced with great fanfare the "official end of the war against the Islamic State group". The announcement marked the end of three years...

Read more

2018-01-11 Americas

Video: Inside the deadly US opioid crisis

Opioids kill more people than they cure. Every day in the United States, some 140 people die from taking opioids - addictive opiate-based drugs. They’ve become the leading cause...

Read more

2017-12-20 Africa

Egypt's Coptic Christians live in fear of Islamist attacks

Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been the target of unprecedented attacks since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. The election of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 saw an upsurge with...

Read more

2017-12-15 Africa

Exclusive video: South Sudan, a cursed land

For the past four years South Sudan has been torn apart by civil war – and the situation in the country is desperate. Famine rages across all conflict zones and the first victims...

Read more

2017-12-08 Libya

Video: Trapped in Libya, migrants face torture and slavery

In the past few months, the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean has shrunk drastically on the back of new migrant policies in Libya and Italy alike. Instead,...

Read more