The Traffickers, the Militias, and the State
August 29, 2013 4:16 AM   Subscribe

Over the last year and a half, I have been visiting São Paulo and, especially, Rio de Janeiro, observing the process of “pacification,” by which the government attempts to peacefully enter and reestablish state control over the most violent enclaves of the city, those dominated by drug gangs called traficantes, or by syndicates of corrupt police called militias. Until 2008, when the pacification program started, the traficantes controlled roughly half of the favelas, and the militias the other half. Both still hold power in most favelas. The ultimate aim of the state government of Rio’s plan, called the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP), or Police Pacification Unit, is to drive both of these groups out and replace them by the state. (SLNYRB)
posted by Rustic Etruscan (6 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Traffickers, The Militias, and the State

I think leaving FIFA off the list makes the title incomplete.
posted by three blind mice at 4:36 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

In Tavares Bastos, and in favelas like Cantagalo, with its easy access to the rich southern zone of Rio and increased security after the pacification, the residents are being forced out, not by violence, which they can live with, but by high rents, which will make living there impossible. Their right to live there was protected as long as it was illegal. After pacification, the biggest threat to longtime residents of the Rio favelas will come not from drug dealers, but from property dealers.
posted by eviemath at 6:29 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

So pacification is a police-state form of gentrification of absolute slums.
posted by symbioid at 6:31 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

The article also pointed out that there were complex issues around democracy - namely, that it never arrived in the favelas, post-dictatorship. So the head police guy in charge of the pacification program talks about it as completing the democratic conversion. This is not usually how gentrification works though, so it seems to me to be a case of: a real and serious problem has been identified, but the course of action being taken is unlikely to be a solution to that particular problem.
posted by eviemath at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2013

All you need to know about this dynamic is that the beer costs 3x as much after the state-police clean things up and the music is worse.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 10:39 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Part time Rio resident here.
I look up at the Favela Santa Marta whose winding access starts 2 blocks away from my apartment.
I do my Portuguese lessons at a house on the road leading up to Tavaros Bastos These places are both in the comfort zone of the prosperous Zona Sul.
Quick one liners might make you feel good but they don't add to the discourse.
Google doesn't help as it ''disappeared'' the favelas.
Just to give an idea of what is involved here is a 2008 map of favelas occupied by armed inhabitants and as of last year these ones were pacified.
So the problem is fucking huge, and if you are an inhabitant of the Ciudade Maravillosa any solution seems a good solution because believe me they are tired of all the shit that goes down.
All in all this is a pretty good article about a complex subject.
The politicians are mostly venal, the cops earn little so augment their salaries and what is only touched on in this article are the links to the deep state and the unrepentant followers of the dictatorship who are still around and in cohorts with the militias for their threats and occasional asassination.
For decades the favelas and their inhabitants were just ignored. Now with the growth of a middle class the people are demanding some sort of security and welfare from their taxes.
and realize that sorting out the favelas is one of the big solutions and of benefit to all.
The people except the constructors and their friends don't want bread and circuses they want among other things healthcare, transport that works and the knowledge that you can walk your own street without getting mugged at any time of day or night.
Power abhors a vacuum and when Power ignored the favelas the strong men gangsters filled the space and took over. The strongest and most brutal won.
It's a really tough problem. It's a beautiful city but yes it has its dark side.
posted by adamvasco at 10:51 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

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