By Patricia Maresch, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Complexo do Alemão at the Zona Norte (North zone) is under new command, the 1,700 soldiers of the Parachutist Brigade have been replaced by military of the Infantry Brigade. The rotation of the peacekeeping troops are reported as necessary because the activities are so intense.
The new commander, general Cesar Leme Justo, said the new soldiers have the same skills and technical qualities as the troops they are replacing.
The special Peace Force has been operating at the Complexo do Alemão and Vila Cruzeiro since December last year. The force is composed of military and members of the civil and military police: 2,400 men in total.
Their mission is to stop the drug traffickers that ruled the area from returning, and to prepare the community for the gradual installation of ten planned UPP bases.
There was a small ceremony for the change of command at which Rio’s governor Cabral was present together with the new Chief of the Civil Police, Marta Rocha, a 27-year police veteran who has promised to take a tough stand on police misconduct. Rocha was named new chief right after Operação Guilhotina (Operation Guillotine) last week.
The Operation called for the arrest of 45 people, including military and civil police officers linked to drug traffickers and militias. Additional charges were for reselling weapons and drugs that were confiscated during the huge military and police operation leading to the occupation of the Complexo do Alemão and Vila Cruzeiro.
While homes were raided in search of drugs, weapons and drug traffickers, goods and money were also reported being stolen by police and military. Justiça Global now wants the government to repair the damages and indemnify the families. Jose Mariano Beltrame, the Security Secretary of Rio, says he doesn’t want to comment on the demands of Justiça Global.
Rio’s government announced that the Peace Force has made a little over seventy arrests, seven of which were for drug trafficking. The military are mostly asked to solve problems related to everyday life, such as family quarrels and excessive drinking.
One army soldier died of a gunshot wound. A military spokesperson declared the soldier had not been a target, but got shot in the head after a gun accidentally fired.
Apart from the peacekeeping tasks, local government also continues to invest on other levels such as health and education. For example, all fourteen favelas at the Complexo do Alemão will get free internet access.
The initiative is being provided by the Rio Estado Digital (Rio Digital State) program, in partnership with the universities PUC-RJ and UERJ. The plan is to install 257 antennas to cover the 3,000 square mile area.