By Mira Olson, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Morro do Borel favela is scheduled to receive a permanent Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (Police Pacification Unit, or UPP) on Monday, June 7th. This will be the eighth UPP inaugurated since the policy was launched in January of 2009.
Borel and the five neighboring favelas that comprise the “Complexo do Borel” in Tijuca, in Rio’s Zona Norte, have been occupied by Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE) officers since April 28th of this year.
The Morro da Formiga favela, adjacent to Borel, will not receive its own UPP, but police will have an advanced checkpoint and four patrol cars in the community, under the control of the Borel UPP. Three other neighboring communities will benefit from UPP presence in Borel.
According to government statistics, over 140,000 people, or roughly fourteen percent of people living in the city’s favelas, have been freed from the oppression of drug trafficking through police occupation and the establishment of the UPPs. The government intends for this number to reach thirty percent by the end of 2010.
Police presence has yielded additional benefits to the occupied favelas and surrounding communities, notably through some impressive reported increases in real estate values. In Tijuca, where the most recent police occupation took place, some estimates suggest that real estate has appreciated by over forty percent. In Santa Marta, the first community to receive UPP presence, rental values have increased by two hundred percent on one-bedroom apartments. According to the newspaper O Globo, in some areas of Cidade de Deus real estate values have increased by up to four hundred percent.
Additionally, occupation has moved into more advanced stages. Police are working in conjunction with policy makers to bring basic necessities and public services into the community. Multiple social programs such as the ONGs Roda Viva in Borel and Solar Meninos de Luz in Pavão-Pavãozinho are reportedly benefiting from the police presence, demonstrating increased levels of participation since the UPP’s arrival.
Police presence has also helped to foster a renewed sense of community among neighboring favelas; an inter-community soccer tournament arranged by BOPE officials was held in the Complexo do Borel on May 30th, in stark contrast to the previous rivalries over hill control by drug gangs.
No official announcements have been made on which will be the next favela to be occupied. Nevertheless, BOPE will be relocating to Ramos, in Zona Norte, by the end of the year. The new headquarters will neighbor the Complexo do Maré, an area comprising sixteen favelas and an estimated 130,000 residents, and which has among the worst crime indicators in the city.
The Borel UPP will be the second to be established in Zona Norte, the first having been inaugurated on April 26th of this year in Providência, considered to be Brazil’s first favela, located behind Central do Brasil, Rio’s train terminal.
All of the communities in the tourist areas of Zona Sul have now been pacified, including Santa Marta in Botafogo, Morro da Babilônica and Chapéu Mangeira in Leme, Ladeira dos Tabajaras and Morro dos Cabritos in Copacabana, and Pavão-Pavãozinho and Cantagalo between Copacabana and Ipanema. In the West Zone, UPP units are operating in Cidade de Deus, Jacarepaguá and in Jardim Batam, Realengo.