By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This past weekend, the favela community of Vila Kennedy in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) was the site of the latest operation by Brazil’s armed forces since the military intervention was announced several weeks ago.
The military operation in the community involved some 1,400 soldiers and resulted in a total of five arrests for contempt and drug possession.
According to Colonel Carlos Cinelli, Chief of Communications for the Eastern Military Command, the individual arrested for contempt had “uttered a series of curses, offenses and slang words towards the military” at the start of the operation on Saturday, March 3rd.
Cinelli also revealed to a government news agency that more than seven hundred people and six hundred vehicles were searched resulting in the seizure of various items including ammunition, cars, and bicycles.
As part of Saturday’s operation, the military also brought in heavy armored vehicles and tractors to remove some sixteen barricades that were placed at various points throughout the community. Several reports indicated that the barricades were installed by local crime lords to prevent the police and rival gangs from entering into the favela.
However, according to Globo news, by Sunday, March 4th, only a day after the barricades were removed, several new barricades had already been erected throughout the community. “It will not be a half an hour before everything will be back,” said one anonymous resident.
On Sunday, Cinelli echoed the military’s frustration with the barricades, “Certainly, these barricades are an impediment to such actions being implemented…they [barricades] will continue to be removed, until we can have a stable environment for implementing the actions that were planned.”
The Vila Kennedy community has about 22,000 residents. In March 2014, the community received the city’s 38th UPP (Police Pacification Unit) comprised of about 250 military police officers.