By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Long held up as a positive model of the impact of Rio’s Police Pacification Units (UPP), the Santa Marta favela community in Zona Sul (South Zone), Botafogo, was rocked on Tuesday (November 22nd) afternoon, when the community’s UPP was the target of violence.

Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro
Considered a positive model of Rio’s Police Pacification Units (UPP), the Santa Marta favela community’s UPP was the target of violent attacks on Tuesday, Nov. 22, photo courtesy of Rio Media Center.

Inaugurated in December 2008, the UPP Santa Marta was the first pacification unit to be installed as part of the sometimes-controversial law enforcement and social services program.

At about 4PM, Tuesday, intruders broke into the UPP outpost at Rua Marechal Francisco de Moura and detonated a homemade explosive device inside the outpost. The explosion caused a small fire within the outpost, damaging furniture and breaking windows. The resulting fire was extinguished by firemen and civil police officers. No UPP officers were inside the outpost at the time of the explosion and no injuries were reported.

By late Tuesday evening, gunshots were reported from within the favela as police questioned several suspects in search of the perpetrators of the bombing. As of writing, no arrests have been reported.

UPP Santa Marta officials told local news outlets that the bombing was a retaliation for an incident that occurred earlier that day when UPP Santa Marta police were attacked by several armed men during a routine patrol within the community near an area called Arena. During the shootout with police, one of the perpetrators was shot and wounded. He is currently recovering in the Miguel Couto Municipal Hospital in Gavea.

Santa Marta is a community of about 7,000 residents, built on one of the steepest hills in the city overlooking Botafogo. After the UPP implementation, the government widened streets, installed staircases, built public housing and a library, as well as other services like Comlurb, the city’s garbage collection agency.

The favela community also quickly became a tourist destination, due in part to its spectacular views of Pão de Açucar and Corcovado. Santa Marta was also made famous as the setting of Michael Jackson’s music video, “They Don’t Care About Us.”



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