Stranger than fiction: 'Elite Squad 2' opens as politician who inspired movie flees Rio
But is the congressman's abrupt departure from Rio de Janeiro actually a political ploy for the city's upcoming mayoral election? Just another stranger than fiction event in Rio's struggle with crime.
Elite Squad 2 will be released in the US on November 11, and those unfamiliar with the plot may think it's just a creative screenplay. But in reality, much of the story is based on fact, because in Rio, truth is often stranger than fiction.Skip to next paragraph
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There's been quite a few big news stories on Rio security in the past two weeks, but not everything is exactly as it seems.
Local politician "in exile:" Marcelo Freixo flees Rio
Last week, popular Rio Congressman Marcelo Freixo announced that he was fleeing Brazil after death threats from Rio militias escalated. He found little support for increased security from the Rio authorities, who he claims have failed to investigate the threats against him. Some were even calling his abrupt departure as "exile." Mr. Freixo inspired the character Diogo Fraga in Elite Squad 2, since in real life, he has been going after Rio's militias and politicians with militia ties since 2006. He's made many enemies, including a former policeman/militia member who escaped from prison and was allegedly offered 400,000 reais ($227,000) to murder Freixo.
But here's the catch. Freixo and his family left the country and went to Europe with the support of Amnesty International, and Freixo will be giving several speeches in conjunction with Amnesty while he's gone. He also announced that he would only be gone for several weeks before returning to Rio.
So in reality, he wasn't really going into exile, but taking a leave of absence. On the one hand, making the big deal out of it that he did helped put more pressure on the Rio government to investigate the threats against him and provide more security, especially considering that a Rio judge was brazenly murdered less than three months ago by the same groups that are after Freixo. Considering his life is in danger, he helped frame his departure in a more dramatic fashion in a sort of last ditch attempt for more protection.
On the other hand, it was a bit of a PR ploy to make the mayor and governor look bad, which is convenient considering that Freixo will likely run for mayor next year. It also was something of a slap in the face to José Mariano Beltrame, Security secretary for Rio state. Granted, Mr. Beltrame has one of the most difficult jobs in the city, if not Brazil, but Freixo's so-called "exile" did not do him any favors.
In the end, Freixo is an honest guy working to make the city safer, so hopefully his brief European break will in fact end up helping him get better protection when he gets back, as well as inspiring renewed vigor amongst Cariocas to combat the militias.
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