By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Corporal Rodrigo Alves Cavalcante, a Military Police (PM) officer with the Batalhão de Choque (Shock Batalion), was shot and killed in Rocinha. He becomes the first police officer, and the ninth person in total, to be killed in a growing spree of violence that has swept through the favela community since February.
Rodrigo was one of eight police officers on foot patrol at the top of the community when he was shot in the back and killed.
State Secretary for Security, Jose Mario Beltrame, said on Wednesday that the UPP (Police Pacification Program) in Rocinha would continue regardless of the recent death: “[We] will not remove even a millimeter of the UPP program,” he said.
The secretary also said that it is necessary for Rocinha to be fully pacified before installation of the UPP. He stressed that police were in the first phase of occupation, patrolling to arrest criminals. The Secretary also dismissed a request for military aid to combat trafficking in the community.
Military police public relations officer, Colonel Frederick Caldas shared: “Of course the death of police saddens us, but this should serve as a symbol of our strength. [There is] no turning back.”
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. A massive pacification operation of the area was carried out in November without armed resistance.
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