By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Students from the Adeus and Baiana area of Complexo do Alemão favela community, through the UPP (Pacifying Police Unit) had an opportunity to meet the blockbuster actor and ex-governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, over the weekend while he was in Rio representing his self-titled health and fitness conference. The Arnold Conference Brazil 2016, which began on Friday (April 1st), was held at Riocentro in Barra da Tijuca.
The students that are training with the Geração UPP (UPP Generation) competed in taekwondo and jiu-jitsu premiered in what organizers say is one of the world’s largest event of its kind. Athletes were able to present, train and enjoy being around several famous fighters of different categories that were also in attendance.
On Sunday (April 3rd) for the third consecutive year, thirty students of UPP Generation team UPP Providência attended the event. Athletes who have achieved the best performance and won championships did a training presentation of the main techniques of judo and jujitsu.
According to the commander of the UPP Providência, major Sidnei Pazini, “Only in Providência, free sports activities benefit 250 children and adolescents. We have developed several champions, including internationally. But the main objective remains to educate through sports, approaching the community of the local UPP,” said the commander.
Like last year, the Geração UPP Cidade de Deus (City of God) team were also present on Sunday with their jujitsu project to compete at the Arnold Schwarzenegger event, with a total of ten students selected for the advanced technical capabilities, led by police trainer Flávio Luis.
“Having our project recognized outside Brazil is important in gigantic proportion. And to have the work recognized by the people and our commanders is priceless. Always attend this event knowing that Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger attends and sees our presentation is very rewarding and the students are always excited and happy. Bring on 2017,” said the teacher and police officer.
Organizers describe the Arnold Conference as a ‘scientific and technical event of the Arnold Classic Brazil, with lectures about health, nutrition and physical activity. The IFBB Arnold Classic, also known as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic was started in 1989 and is an annual professional men’s bodybuilding competition run by the International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness.
The UPP program in Rio de Janeiro was launched in December 2008, and while many communities have benefited from added security, it remains controversial as police corruption and excessive use of force are ongoing challenges. In November last year, Sociologist Rodrigo Monteiro told government news sources, “The UPP was not able to totally end armed drug trafficking nor establish itself as a legitimate power within these communities due to the problems with police conduct.”
Yet there are success stories, and home to just over 4,000 residents, the Adeus e da Baiana communities had a UPP station installed on May 11, 2012. With a staff of 245 military police, now commanded by Captain Paula Andresa of Chagas. The UPP is the third of eight units of the Complexo do Alemão and Penha.
The Morro da Providência received their UPP on April 26, 2010. Considered the first favela in the country, the community of nearly 5,000 residents is served by a UPP police force of 209 men, commanded by Major Sidnei Robson Pazini.
The UPP Cidade de Deus was the second UPP station established in the city of Rio de Janeiro, inaugurated on February 16, 2009. The unit serves a population estimated at 47,021 inhabitants commanded by Major Roberto Ouverney Valente.