By Zoë Roller, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last Thursday Governor Sérgio Cabral announced that a Police Pacification Unit (UPP) would be installed in the Complexo da Mangueira on November 3rd. The UPP in Mangueira will be the eighteenth unit in the state of Rio, and the final favela in the area encircling Maracanã to be pacified, closing the security perimeter in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
State Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame visited the favela complex on Friday to tour the new police headquarters and affirmed that the UPP will have three bases, in Parque Candelaria, Caixa d’Agua, and Morro do Tuiuti.
Beltrame added that pacification will open the door to social programs for residents, including access to affordable cable television.
The police have been executing operations in Mangueira for the past six months in preparation for the UPP. In June, 120 BOPE officers and 750 troops entered the complex to clear the area of traffickers.
The Complexo da Mangueira is a group of favelas in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone), estimated to contain 20,000 people. The community has been made famous by the renowned Samba School, the G.R.E.S. Estação Primeira de Mangueira.
Earlier this month Alexander Mendes da Silva, aka Polegar, the convicted former chief of drug traffic in Mangueira, was captured in Paraguay. Polegar, the 37 year-old convicted ex-chief of Mangueira, was captured on October 19th in Pedro Juan Caballero, a town on the Paraguayan border with Mato Grosso do Sul.
Last week Governor Cabral also announced that the army would remain in the Complexo do Alemão until June 2012. The 1,800 troops in the region were supposed to withdraw in October 2011 and be gradually replaced by Military Police.
The extension freed sufficient forces to install the UPP in Mangueira and make preliminary incursions into favelas still awaiting pacification. “The past twelve months have been a historic moment of cooperation between federal and state governments, as well as a unique situation in the history of democratic countries: the recovery of territory taken over by a parallel power,” said Cabral.
The first UPP began on December 19th, 2008 in the Santa Marta community of Botafogo. Implemented by both governor Sérgio Cabral and Beltrame, the pacification units were created with the aim of reclaiming those favelas that were controlled by drug lords or private militias.
After initial success in Santa Marta, the second UPP began in the much more dangerous Cidade de Deus in February of the next year, with many more follow. The program worked on improvements to social services alongside a continuous police presence to try and inhibit criminal activities while meeting the needs of favela residents, in some cases even leading to the re-classification of communities.