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.
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Last week, the Mangueira favela was the latest to receive an UPP, a pacification force of police intended to impose order and drive out drug traffickers. The community of 20,000 is a key component of the government's pacification plan, since it's located near Maracanã Stadium and has a samba school popular with tourists and Cariocas alike. The pacification unit was inaugurated amongst much fanfare, including music performances with samba dancers and a speech by the governor, but few residents attended. Along with supposed greater safety, the Mangueira UPP plan also includes discounted cable TV for all residents and trash collection by city services, which it didn't have before. The day after the UPP was installed, Mayor Eduardo Paes spoke with residents, and he said:Skip to next paragraph
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"The idea is to 'New York-ize' Mangueira. Except Mangueira is much better than New York. Here, for example, you have the samba school. Trash collection will be done twice a day, Monday to Saturday, with new machines. That's more frequently than in Leblon [a wealthy neighborhood], where it's done only once a day, three times a week."
While some residents are hoping for improvements, many are still waiting on a number of requests, including better schools, improved water services, better sewage management, more jobs, and more tourism. Whether the UPP will be able to eliminate the drug trade is unclear, since other UPPs have been unsuccessful in that regard. Since violence in this favela is seemingly more "visible" to foreigners (and to Cariocas from other parts of the city), more so than somewhere like Maré, which is also slated for pacification, it will be interesting to see if further improvements are made, or if much of this particular UPP is só para inglês ver.
Cameraman killed during police operation
Gelson Domingos, a cameraman from Band TV, was killed while filming a police operation in the Antares favela in Rio on Sunday. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, but was hit with a bullet from an assault rifle that went through the protective layer. As Julia Michaels points out on RioReal, the Zona Oeste has only one pacified favela, but even so, the UPP strategy and its short term success may have created an "exaggerated sense of safety," so that the cameraman's murder was more of a shock. The West Zone has seen more violence recently as traffickers and militia vie for control: An elementary school in Bangu was invaded by traffickers fleeing police last week, and as Ms. Michaels also pointed out, murders are on the rise in nearby Vila Kennedy.