By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Police units continue to patrol major streets in Copacabana on Tuesday (October 11th) after intense gunfire erupted in the favela community of Pavão-Pavãozinho between drug traffickers and police on Monday (October 10th) afternoon. By the time the shootout ended, three men were dead, three police officers were wounded and eight suspects had been arrested.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,Police patrol entrance to Pavão-Pavãozinho Cantagalo communities in Copacabana after gunfire erupted on Monday
Police patrol entrance to Pavão-Pavãozinho Cantagalo communities in Copacabana after gunfire erupted on Monday, photo by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil.

Residents of Rio’s Copacabana neighborhood took cover on Monday while shop owners hastily closed their doors and schools sent children home after police officers started to battle it out with a group of men who attacked a UPP (Police Pacifying Unit) in the area.

“When the bullets fly I only leave the door half open,” an owner of a bar on Sá Ferreira [street with access to the favela] was quoted as saying by UOL noticias. “It is better to lose business than to lose your life and to die. This here does not seem like war, it is war,” he added.

Traffic was diverted from streets leading up to the community as police tried to get pedestrians away from the area. Residents of the favela community were either confined at home or waiting for the violence to end so they could enter the community.

“The operation counted with 120 policemen and started because criminals attacked the (police) base of the UPP Pavão-Pavãozinho,” sub-commander of the Shock Batallion Vinicius Carvalho told government news sources. According to military police, six rifles and two pistols were seized, along with ammunition and about eight kilograms of cocaine.

The Pavão-Pavãozinho and Cantagalo UPP was one of the first favela communities to have pacifying units installed in December of 2009. A British expatriate living in Pavão-Pavãozinho, who wished to remain anonymous, explained to The Rio Times how times have changed.

“When I first arrived here in the favela it was the beginning of the pacification and I guess it was a kind of honeymoon period,” she said. “People were pleased in some ways, for example, kids could play on the streets. I never saw drug dealing or even a gun (apart from the police guns) for the first two to three years, never, and then it was rare until about eighteen months ago.”

She added, “Now the gangsters have BBQs in the street, in the open air, in broad daylight with lots of guns. They seem to be openly walking around all over the favela with guns, openly selling drugs from a table.”

The community, which has approximately 10,000 residents, also has one of the most beautiful views of both Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and its hostels are favorite among foreigners and Brazilian visitors.


  1. I lived in Rio off/on for years….it is my second home for over 30 yrs….I owned an apt there (N S Copacabana between D’Jama Urich and Sa Ferreira) I sold it 5 yrs ago…although I still go back as I have life long friends there and my second family and my husband and I married there and he still has a son who lives there…having said that I could never understand why anyone would want to tour the favelas (let alone live in one) or why would anyone want to stay in a pousada in one…I always new it was a bad idea…People think they are having a cultural experience…please! This is poverty which every country has…would you go tour or stay in those areas in your own country?

  2. Glad to see the Police out on the Streets the Low Life drug dealer needs to be stopped in any way the Police see fit,shooting at Police makes the crime higher,and the Police have the right to defend themselves in any way which includes death.Why don’t Brazil pass laws anyone found guilty of possession,sale,distribution automatic 10yrs without parole. Robbing banks with injury and use of weapons, 25 yrs.automaticly on parole. Start changes to the Justice System and watch the Crimes slow or stop.
    Second issue DOGS. there running wild why aren’t they being picked up and spaded,or unitized? Why isn’t there any requirement to owners to have vacant ion

  3. well-said, debbie! and as for your comments, richard, they show a limited understanding of the dynamics of the situation, and a faith in the good will and professionalism of the police (and the so-called justice system), and a lack of comprehension regarding the dynamics of the drug trade there, that no one who has ever lived in and truly understands rio would express!

  4. I agree with Richard. Automatic weapons are a massive problem world over. Countries without them just don’t have the same problems. The police are not in a state to deal with this . You can’t have war on the streets. Possession of an automatic weapon …bang 10 years. Need proper video evidence. Drones and the like. A clean and respected legal process and they need to be able to put kids in detention centres not the current law. There is a whole generation out there who will need to be stopped and then comes the hard bit…dealing with the next generation coming up….that requires education and structure…funding etc You need to do both. It is a complete social reform . Most rich Brasilians I know seem to think the problems are endemic and the underclass are not worth the effort..I don’t think things will change until they become a little more educated themselves.


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