By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The favela community of Rocinha, in São Conrado, in the Zona Sul (South Zone) of Rio de Janeiro, was once again the scene of shootings at dawn yesterday (October 6th). According to the Polícia Militar (PM), there was an intense firefight and two people were shot.
Government news agencies report that officers from the PM’s Shock Battalion clashed with criminals on the Rua 2 in Rocinha. After the confrontation, the accused criminals died from their injuries at the hospital, and the police made searches in the area and seized a rifle and a pistol.
A war between rival drug gang factions has been raging in the streets and alleyways of Rocinha, the largest favela community in Rio de Janeiro, since Sunday, September 17th. The fighting was so intense the armed forces moved in temporarily.
Now since the armed forces left Rocinha on September 29th, five hundred PM officers have been patrolling the community with the aim of arresting criminals who have been fighting for control of the drug traffic in the area.
English expatriate living in Rocinha, Jody King, a DJ and operator of an NGO English language school Favela Phoenix, shared, “It seems the police and army efforts are helping a bit as they are stopping the turf war between the rival factions here.”
King adds, “Unfortunately when they pull their troops out and there are less military here, the fighting will almost certainly resume. Right now, sadly, I can’t see an end to the violence anytime soon.”
According to officials, the policing program involves surrounding the region in fifteen points around the community, carried out by police officers of the Leblon battalion; fixed patrol in fourteen containment points inside the favela, made by police of the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) of Rocinha; in addition to additional patrolling of every community, by men from the special battalions of the PM.
Rocinha is home to around 70,000-100,000 residents, the second largest in Latin America, and one of a handful of favelas in Rio that the government UPP program had always struggled with. Now that the UPP has been reduced, more violence is likely.