Rio Police Battle City-Wide Attack

By Amy Skalmusky, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Cidade Maravilhosa is under siege. The violence started on Sunday, and just in the last 24 hours, 19 vehicles have been burnt including cars, buses and vans, bringing the total to over thirty. Police cabins have been attacked throughout the city and authorities are on high alert and taking actions to quell the violence.

Vehicles burning in the outskirts of Rio, image recreation.

Four injuries and no deaths have been directly related to the attacks, however, O Globo reports 12 deaths related to subsequent police operations in the favelas.

The atmosphere is tense. Earlier today, a three-foot, chained and padlocked box that had been abandoned in General Osório Square in Ipanema, was the focus of a bomb scare.

Streets around the square were closed and the bomb squad was called in. No bomb was found and it was later discovered that the box was part of an advertising campaign. The company, Moda Promoções & Eventos, is being held responsible by the authorities.

Since Tuesday, Police have been on Fecha Quartel (Closed Quarters), in which police officers cannot go home and those on vacation must return to their stations. All administrative activities have been suspended and all police officers in medical and physical condition are on the streets.

Suspects responsible for the coordinated attacks, image recreation.

According to Rio’s Security Secretary, José Mariano Beltrame, the attacks are being ordered by Marcio Santos Nepomuceno, aka Marcinho VP, and Marco Antônio Pereira Firmino, aka Mv Thor, both behind bars at the Catanduvas Federal Penitentary in Paraná.

In October of this year, agents intercepted letters from leaders of the Commando Vermelho (Red Command), or CV, gangs complaining that the Pacification Units (UPPs) that had been set up in thirteen favelas were making things difficult for them and entertained the idea of possible attacks.

Police suspect that the CV is working with a rival gang, Amigos dos Amigos (Friends of Friends) in organizing the attacks. Fearing for their safety, people are leaving work early, stores are closing and the streets in areas where the police activity is heaviest are empty.

Police post on high alert and expecting reinforcements, image recreation.

Police operations are intensifying and at 2PM today, Police entered the Vila Cruzeiro favela in Penha and were greeted with gunshots.

The Ministry of Justice agreed to Governor Sergio Cabral’s request for reinforcement and will triple the number of federal highway police in Rio.

Initially, they will be imported from neighboring states and will remain in Rio for an indefinite period. The agents, whose transfer is set to begin today, are part of a special group trained to work in high risk areas during conflicts.

The violence is the first major outburst since the hostage situation at a luxury hotel in São Conrado in Zona Sul, following a shootout with the police. Obviously officials will be under intense pressure to restore order and confidence in the public security as the year’s tourist season begins and all eyes remain on the host city of the 2014 World Cup finals and 2016 Olympics.

33 Responses to "Rio Police Battle City-Wide Attack"

  1. mike  November 24, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    At the very heart of all of this is America’s (and allies including Brasil) war on drugs. When will it stop? When can we admit its failure? In fact when i believe most of us already have… When will policy fall inline, the further we continue down this downward spiral the more extreme it seems to change this policy.

  2. Diego  November 24, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    So what does everyone think about this in relation to hosting the Olympics..? Will the IOC consider moving the event to another city for security reasons..?

    I also saw on the BBC news site today, that apparently Eduardo Paes wants to tear down a large number of favelas and supposedly ‘rebuild’ them in time for the Olympics… anyone know anything about this project..?

  3. Diego  November 24, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    Well said, Mike. The US has spent billions of dollars over many decades on their ‘war on drugs’ and have accomplished nothing. We need to look at countries like Holland and their intelligent approach…

  4. Vania Maciel  November 24, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Yes Diego, it might be very true. I’ve heard the same information about one month ago from a doctor of UFRJ, who works within the communities nearby where I live.

    Apparently they are already at work removing bits by bits, although I can’t confirm the info with the Paes administration.

    I also would imagine that for them to succeed the information would not be rally out there.

    Also this Monday I had the experience of the actual state in town “first hand” coming out of it with luckily unhurt, only with dirty clothes from lying on the floor and a somewhat damaged sense of security and still rather shaky.

  5. jim  November 24, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Not sure what America’s failure on drugs has to do with a social problem that Bra has been battling and lost for many generations. While BRA is developing it suffers from many 3rd world issues.

    BRA will, over time solve these problems.

  6. Theresa  November 24, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    Hi Diego–please check out news from communities across Rio, in English at http://www.RioOnWatch.org, about evictions and lack of due process. The BBC article only quoted city sources. Always be skeptical when communities aren’t interviewed. May just be marketing by the city…

  7. Rosa Borba Battley  November 24, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    I am Brazilian, living in London, and feeling really worried about the safety of anyone going for a tour to the most beautiful ever town in the world:RIO DE JANEIRO!!
    One of my good english friend is about to be setting for Rio, very soon..I am really worried about his safety now!! after rading this news I can NOT go to bed now..Oh God!!What is wrong??What DO the government must do??The military Force, must be out now!!sooner than late!!!What at cost??Lives???Please PRESIDENT do something about it!!

  8. Brian Chambers  November 25, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    “BRA will, over time solve these problems”

    Jim – in time we will all due…………….The allies “in time” ended Hitlers reign in Europe……………”in time” African Americans were freed from slavery and in time one of them even became president

    In time maybe even the USA can win the world cup

    Time can solve everything but in the meantime people are being killed

  9. INGRID  November 25, 2010 at 6:22 AM

    I´m Brazilian, but I can´t handle it anymore!
    Go Lula, do something! Put the army on the streets…kill this sucks dro dilers, and let the people live!!!

  10. Luis  November 25, 2010 at 6:26 AM

    Replying to Rosa Borba. Stay calm. Things drive serious concerns of course, but are not so bad as have been announced. Actions have been taken in places on tourist never (or should never) go.

  11. Sven van't Veer  November 25, 2010 at 6:58 AM

    I find it amazing that Beltrame and Cabral keep telling the people that the drugs gangs are desperate and that the drugs gangs in Rio are and unorganized bunch. This is a coordinated attack to show the government and the people that they can do what they want, whenever they want to and won’t be punished for it. They pay people R$ 200 to torch a bus.

    Rio de Janeiro isn’t ready for the Olympics. They shouldn’t even have applied for them. The billions it will cost to host the Olympics won’t benefit anyone in the long run. Corruption will be rampant when building starts. The money should have been invested in education and public health. Education is the only way to close the social gap and diminish violence.

    The UPP’s in the favelas serve only as a visual effect. The dates favelas will be pacified is published days before so that the gangs can leave, taking their drugs and weapons to other places enforcing military power in those places. The fact that arch enemies ADA and CV are at peace and that some 100 CV “soldiers” have enforced the “troops” in Rocinha.

    Only this night six busses wher burned and one bus driver got shot in the head. Busses to centro, usually overcrowded are almost empty and the subway, already overcrowded has almost double the usual people waiting at stations.

  12. Arthur  November 25, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    Well said Mike. However as Brazil makes it’s transition from a “developing” country to a developed country, it must make certain benchmarks. To have vast swaths of the uban areas out of the control of the government is unacceptable. The passacification campaign, if sustained, should be the first stage of bringing better government provided services to the favelas. Have a good thanksgiving.

  13. Diego  November 25, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Excellent comments Sven – i agree 100% with everything you said.

    The Olympics are a joke – and difficult enough for any city in the world to manage. So with rampant corruption here, the public will suffer. Building all this ridiculous infrastructure for sports that people don’t care about – cycling and archery and rowing… while people are literally dying in the emergency wards because there are no doctors… is incredible.

    And yes, the UPPs are totally superficial and are more for tourism than anything…

  14. Christian  November 25, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    Hello, I´m brazilian and i live in Rio Grande do Sul State.
    O Rio de Janeiro está fora de controle! A cidade é rodeada de favelas e os traficantes de drogas andam com fuzis de guerra em plena luz do dia, em qualquer rua.
    Tanques blindados M113 da Marinha do Brasil estao entrando nesse momento dentro das favelas. Dentro desses tanques estao soldados do B.O.P.E. (brazilian swatt ).
    Os traficantes queimaram dezenas de onibus e carros desde ontem. A situacao esta fora de controle.
    Precisam encontrar esses traficantes e matar todos de uma vez!
    O problema é que depois os “direitos humanos” ficam mostrando as familias dos vagabundos mortos. Mas quando morre um policial, ninguem da bola. É uma inversao total de valores..

    Meu email:

    muller.nho@ig.com.br

  15. jordyn  November 25, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    hey im from new zealand and was ment to be going to rio tomorrow just till sunday with my brazilian friend. but with everything that happened is it now to dangerous to go?? thanks for all your help!!

  16. Diego  November 25, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Calm down Christian… you need to look at the bigger picture. What about the government who puts all this public money into their pockets, instead of investing in education and the people..?

    Obviously, there will always be drugs and trafficantes. But the more opportunities in life these youths have, the less likely they will join the drug cartels…

    Nobody in the government (or mainstream media like Globo) is looking at the long-term situation…

  17. Carol  November 25, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    I agree completely with Christian!, “human rights” is a joke!.. yess everyone has rights, but these traffickers are killing people for YEARS, but if theyre killed by police, “human rights” will make a whole scene about it.. isn’t it ironic? the traffickers can just kill innocent people but justice can’t be made?!

  18. fabioma Maciel  November 25, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    @ Cristian
    Christian voce eh do RIo grande do Sul entao preste bem atencao no que voce fala, pois nao sei por onde voce anda para ver essas pessoas de fuzis na rua em plena a luz do dia, pois aonde eu moro NA ZONA SUL NAO TEM NADA DISSO E SIM CLARO NAS ZONAS DE BAIXA RENDAS CHAMADAS FAVELAS.
    @ jORDYN> DONT WORRIED IS NOT AS BAD AS ITS LOOK THOSE ATTACK IS ONLY ON THE BAD AREAS WHAT A GUESS YOU WONT BE AROUND… THE TOURISTIC AREA ARE COMPLETELY FINE AND EVERYTHING IS NORMAL… SO JUST COME AND ENJOY IPANEMA BEACH AND CORCOVADO..
    P.S TRY TO AVOID COPACABANA AT NIGHT!

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  20. Alex  November 25, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    I think most of us, americans, dont have a clue of what is really going on there.. i also believe that what we see on news are far from giving us enough information for people like sven make these baseless conclusions. The upps are the only way the government can possibly have the chance to dominate the gangs and the favelas and has absolutely nothing to do with tourism!
    Plus, olympics will definitely benefit rio, it is gonna bring millions into the tourism area which will make economy develop.
    Please people, let’s try to think a little bit before saying all these crazy ideas.. let’s stop thinking about our problems are the only tolerable ones. I have been to Rio and it’s the most beautiful city i have ever been to… and let’s face the facts, midia loves to make up stories!

    jordyn, i would say it’s not the best time for you to visit… i think you should postpone it for a couple weeks.

  21. Sara  November 25, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    I am needing to know about the airport there in Rio. My husband is there and supposed to fly out tonight at 8 or 9 Rio time. Does anyone know?

  22. laps  November 25, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    To make a omelet you need to break a few eggs and thats what Sergio Cabral’s doing!!!!

  23. Diego  November 25, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    Alex – in Zona Sul and in Santa Teresa, for sure… RJ is incredibly beautiful – one of the world’s most attractive cities, like you said. But there is a vast dark side in much of Zona Norte – grey… dirty… poverty… lacking infrastructure, This is what the government has been trying to sweep under the carpet for decades and pretend it doesn’t exist.

  24. Fabio Cola  November 25, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    I live in Rio, and I spent the whole day watching the news that was showing the police offensive against those criminals. I live in the South Zone, far away from Penha, I haven’t seen anything on my surroundings but talking about Penha, after the State Governor Cabral start with the pacification of the favelas, the peace feeling came to the areas around those favelas and one detail that was not mentioned in this article is that after the first 2 or 3 favelas taken back to the police management, the others 10 favelas was taken without any shooting. The media was informing the population about the next police favela that was going to be pacified and all the criminals ran away from there. Today the police went to get those criminals that ran away from “their” favela and that was causing trouble to the city, they did found them.With the marines help on the logistic, they took the control back from one of the most dangerous favela in Rio. Due to many years with a lack of control by the government, caused this big problem that every year we get a bad news coming from Rio. I see that one day we will have a peaceful city ready to hold any important event of the world.
    Just one thing to remind you is that it is compulsory to every brazilian man to serve the army for one year, where you get to eat, get training, and a salary. After this one year they go back to their environment and become a very good soldier for the drug dealers. that is why they have those guerrilla tactics.
    Tomorrow is another day and the police will keep on the way to make Rio the city that every one wants.

  25. Yasmim Ferrari  November 26, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    I’m from Brazil, live in Rio de Janeiro and is a lie, do not want to demolish the slums, these operations are for the withdrawal of the bandits that Brazil already had hosted 3 major events, operations with the UPP are giving too many hills is already some quiet but the two complexes that they are invading are the largest and most dangerous and already took part, so we do have conditions of total host

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  27. Paulo  November 30, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    Que babado !

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