By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A spokesperson for Rio de Janeiro Governor Sérgio Cabral said over the weekend that Police Pacification Unit (UPP) projects are not in jeopardy following last week’s announcement that millionaire Eike Batista has suspended his annual R$20 million investments in a partnership with the UPP program, according to a report in “O Dia.”
The partnership between Batista, his petroleum and gas company, OGX, and the state of Rio began in 2010. Since then, Batista has committed R$20 million annually to the partnership for the implementation of new UPPs.
The funds – allocated by the Secretaria de Segurança (State Safety Secretariat) and not by Batista or OGX – were to used to to construct permanent Military Police headquarters in Ladeira dos Tabajaras/ Morro dos Cabritos in Copacabana. Equipment including vehicles, computers, guns, ammunition and uniforms were also purchased with the OGX funds.
In 2011, forty new cars were purchased with Batista’s donations, and distributed between fourteen pacified communities.
Although Batista’s contributions were almost five times higher than what the state allocated to the pacifying units last year, the UPPs also receive benefits from other companies and programs. The Safety Secretariat is also planning to invest at least R$7 billion in the UPPs this year.
Batista, a tycoon who once held the title of Brazil’s richest man and whose wealth was estimated at more than $30 billion last year, has seen a precipitous fall in profits and projects riddled with delays in the last year. His X companies have been some of the biggest losers in Brazil’s stock market this year, which has led him to shed assets and walk out of investment commitments. His net worth is now at $200 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
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