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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do Alemão at the Zona Norte (North zone) is under new command, the 1,700 soldiers of the Parachutist Brigade have been replaced by military of the Infantry Brigade.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.

Governor Cabral at the ceremony of exchanging the troops photo by Divulgação
Governor Cabral at the ceremony of exchanging the troops, photo by Divulgação.

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.

The NGO Justiça Global (Global Justice) wants an apology from the government of Rio for the damage that has been done to the homes of residents 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.

Soldiers of the Brazilian Army during the operation at Complexo do Alemão favelas, photo by Marcello Casal Jr./ABr.
Soldiers of the Brazilian Army during the operation at Complexo do Alemão favelas, photo by Marcello Casal Jr./ABr.

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.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. That’s a nice initiative by ‘Rio Estado Digital’. Once again, it’s always someone other than the government, that is helping the people…

  2. Diego, The people are the government. At least that’s supposed to be how democracy works. Kudos to Rio Estado Digital for offering the internet access. The local communities need to take care of their neighbors, not “the government”. RED is leading by example. The “government” needs to concentrate on education, health and other critical needs. I think cleaning up the favelas so that people that live there can feel somewhat safer is a priority for the leadership. It’s the citizens of Rio that have to hold their elected leaders accountable. I see this clean-up as a baby-step for Brazil and I’m encouraged and hopeful that the citizens of Brazil have had enough.
    Now Diego, instead of griping, go find a way to volunteer a few hours a week in a favela or local community center. Just think of what can get done if skilled citizens volunteered a few hours a month…

  3. Yeah, maybe i could volunteer, sure… it would be nice to contribute in some form… but there’s nothing wrong with being critical of these bandidos in the government… enjoying their R$26,000 / month salaries…

    But ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the government to take care of its citizens – especially when people here pay such high taxes… And this internet program isn’t 100% government – as the article says, it’s a partnership with two universities, once of which is private…

  4. Diego, Just do what you can as far as volunteering. Some people find it easier to give money, others time. Both are valuable. I agree 100% that citizens should be critical of elected officials, non-elected too. I didn’t realize that the government was involved in the internet program. I don’t know all the answers, that’s for smarter people to figure out, I just think that most of us can help in some small way. The main point is we as citizens all should get involved. By voting intelligently and not voting for the loudest clown on TV (nice job Sao Paulo). AND, when elected officials fail, vote them out. Citizens should demand “bandidos” be held accountable and treated as criminals. That’s what they are.
    We need to do the same thing here in the US. We have the same issues as Brazil, just not so publicized. If these out of control politicians don’t get their acts together then events like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are inevitable.
    I’m rooting for Brazil to keep making progress.

  5. I think the main difference between Brazil and the US in this regard – is the judicial system. At least in the US, politicians and policeman involved in corruption will usually… eventually… be prosecuted (Dick Cheney and such are exceptions, haha). Whereas in Brazil… all of these criminal politicians and police are protected by the system. That and the fact that the judicial system in Brazil is such a slow and drawn out process…

  6. It is not the job of the government to “take care of the people”.
    It is each and every persons job to take care of themselves. If your legal Rights are infringed upon, then you turn to government services for some degree of justice and help hopefully.
    In Brazil that is a very small degree. I live here, unfortunately.
    The criminal justice system is so rigged to make it nearly impossible to have criminals prosecuted and sentenced and actually do time.
    It is very discouraging.
    I do not recommend living in this country for any 1st worlder.

  7. Exactly… it’s discouraging enough when ‘regular’ criminals don’t even serve their full sentences… so what hope is there of a well-connected politician doing jail time for corruption..?

  8. All of you bring a good argument to the table, obviously the government needs to take care of the this dangerous but delicate situation. I say delicate because we’re
    talking about a favela that has roughly 400,000 citizens. The gov has a very tough task ahead, hopefully the elected officials will do atleast half of what they promised on their campaign trail. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a undeclaired war zone. I hope things get better for the people in the favela’s of Rio.

  9. Detective Serpico would be proud that the ‘official’ corruption is being recognised and addressed, just like the criminals.

    Ready to return to Brazil and continue expanding digital access – working for free – if Brazil will have me.

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