By Stephen Eisenhammer, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 22nd Police Pacification Unit (UPP) has been inaugurated for the favela communities of Adeus and Baiana, which neighbor Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Norte (North Zone), where pacification forces have struggled to curtail drug trafficking and violence.
The inauguration was led by the governor Sérgio Cabral on Friday, May 11th, and in his speech the governor noted that the communities of Adeus and Baiana were not originally included in the pacification plan.
However, Cabral said that the decision had been a way of ensuring the security of the wider area around the large group of thirteen favelas known as Complexo do Alemão, home to around 70,000 people.
The aim, according to Cabral, is that the UPP for Adeus and Baiana will provide a protective belt around Complexo do Alemão, addressing the importance of limiting the ability for drug traffickers to move their operations to nearby areas, yet to be pacified.
The new UPP, which comes just weeks after the first UPP was installed in Complexo do Alemão itself, marks an important step in securing the region since the army first entered the group of favelas in November 2010.
The transition from the army to the police was originally set for October 2011. However, today the army still remains and the most recent date set for their removal is June 2012. The installation of the UPPs in Complexo do Alemão and Adeus is, however, a welcome step.
The program was launched in 2008 with the overriding purpose of integrating favela communities, which remained widely isolated and controlled by drug gangs, back into the city’s main fold. The process has several stages, with the time between each one entirely dependent on the specific context and progress.
It remains a dynamic blueprint, and frequently different stages are mixed in one in order to increase effectiveness. The flexibility of the program, which is liable to change and develop as new challenges emerge, is one of the most heralded elements of the UPP system.
The first step typically involves establishing a police presence in the favela, usually spearheaded by BOPE or Batalhão de Choque (Shock Batalion) forces, who enter the favela overpowering and arresting drug traffickers. Occasionally, such as in the case of Complexo do Alemão and Rocinha, if the area is particularly difficult to secure, the army is used.
Once the occupying forces feel that security has been established, a gradual transition of responsibility is passed to ordinary units of the military police. The culmination of this transition is the establishment of a UPP, a permanent police unit situated in the favela.
This unit is designed to maintain law and order as opposed to securing it, and the aim is that this method of policing is socially inclusive and done with the support of the community. The final stage, known as the UPP Social, involves a wider social development program with investments in schools, sports facilities and community centers.