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By Esmee Verbeek, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rocinha is often considered to be the largest favela community in Brazil, and with an estimated 150,000 residents, sits close to the wealthy Zona Sul (South Zone) neighborhoods of São Conrado and Leblon. After a massive pacification effort of the area in November, Rocinha has experienced a recent increase of violence and in the last fifty days there have been eight reported murders.

Rocinha, Rio's largest favela has seen an increase of violence, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rocinha, Rio's largest favela has seen an increase of violence, photo by chensiyuan/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

The most recent on Sunday was thirty-year-old Alexandre da Cunha Fernandes, also known as O Dante, reported shot in front of a bar and later died at the hospital. The murder occurred on the crossing of Via Ápia with Estrada da Gávea, one of the busiest intersections of the neighborhood.

The motive for the murder is being investigated and Renata Araújo, assistant-delegate of the Homicide Division (DH, Divisão de Homicídios) told O Globo: “We are investigating the motives for the crime. Probably it is linked to trafficking.”

Edson Raimundo dos Santos, coordinator of Police forces in Rocinha explains what happened: “When the police heard shots; the police went to the crime scene. There was a riot going on, so they had to use pepper spray in order to disassemble the people.”

During the past four months, Rocinha has been occupied by military police forces, and in the last two weeks a large effort to reinforce the presence has been underway. The size and location of Rocinha makes it symbolic for the government’s efforts to improve security and social programs in many favelas that were previously left under-represented.

Read More (in Portuguese).

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