By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão announced the Pacification Force in the Complexo da Maré favela community in the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio will remain for another for another six months. The decision was made after a meeting with the Ministers of Justice, José Eduardo Cardozo, and Defense, Celso Amorim and the chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, general Jose Carlos De Nardi, in Brasilia, on Tuesday, December 30th.
Complexo da Maré is made up of fifteen favelas located between the Rio highways of Avenida Brasil and the Linha Vermelha, Complexo da Maré is a large area with an estimated 100,000 residents. On March 30, 2014, nearly one thousand Military Police special forces officers accompanied by armored Navy tanks entered Maré to occupy the region, just months before the World Cup.
On Tuesday Minister of Justice José Eduardo Cardozo explained, “[Pezão] was determined to extend the stay of the armed forces between January 1 and March 31, 2015. After this period will be signed a new document setting out the gradual transition of the Armed Forces for the permanent occupation of the Military Police. This process will be completed in June.”
After the meeting, Pezão also thanked the cooperation of the federal government. “We can only move forward in the fight against crime in Rio with the cooperation of the federal government. It is a very tough fight. I thank President Dilma, the Minister Cardozo and the armed forces.”
Unfortunately in November 2014 it was reported that since the Army’s occupation of the Complexo da Maré, the “pacification force” has created a war zone which accounts for 28 murders, twelve dead in Maré and sixteen within the complex surrounding. Social development organizations, Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré and Observatório de Favelas held a press conference to condemn the hardships and abuses suffered at the hands of soldiers.
The governor also confirmed the installation of a military police unit in Morro do Banco, in Itanhangá, Zona Oeste (West Zone) of Rio. “We are changing the command of the military police and we will proceed further. Next Friday, we will begin the process of pacification in another community.”
“The Secretary (Security) José Mariano Beltrame and Colonel Pinheiro Neto (who will take command of the PM in January) will make several announcements about changes. We are changing our vision and reassessing the UPP” the governor said, noting that, from the month of March, 6,000 military police, graduated from the academy this year, and will begin to come into operation in the state.
In December authorities also announced a change of command in 16 of 38 UPPs in the state over the last week in 2014. Rio de Janeiro’s inaugural Police Pacification Unit (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, or UPP) was installed in the Santa Marta favela community six years ago, and employs a force of almost ten thousand officers serving a reported 1.5 million residents.