Brazilian authorities have sent marines and police into Rio to tackle the capital’s most notorious and dangerous criminal elements.
The Manguinhos favela was the first target for the 1300 police who were assisted in their raid by helicopters and armoured tanks in the early hours of Friday morning.
170 marines joined them as they surged through the streets of one of the capital’s poorest neighbourhoods. It is understood that no shots were fired but the security forces made three arrests of suspected criminals.
Rio de Janeiro State Goenor Sergio Cabral praised the operation.
He said, “The operation is another step toward peace, for reducing the number of homicides, car theft, and home break-ins.”
Similar operations have taken place in recent years most notably in South Africa before the previous World Cup 2010 and in London before this year’s Olympic Games.
However, such procedures are somewhat cynically judged to be attempts to ‘quick-fix’ crime, which is often a result of underlying poverty that goes unaddressed.
Instances British authorities simply ‘moving on’ homeless people on London streets are sometimes perceived as an attempt to sweep the country’s problems under the carpet to hide what might be embarrassing for them under the scrutiny of the world’s media.
Nonetheless Cabral has assured the Brazilian people that these measures are being taken to improve their quality of life – not just the experiences of potential tourists.
“The practical effect of this is measured by a more peaceful life for citizens” He said – a statement echoed by the city’s Secretary of Security Jose Mariano Beltrame who said the efforts were a
“Major victor for society, for the people, for public service."
The security teams seized 60 kilograms of cocaine in just 20 minutes from the area that has an estimated population of 70,000 people.
Regardless of the Brazilian state’s intentions, no one could argue that safer streets are a positive thing for everyone – the people who come to visit and the people who remain when the World Cup party is over.
image: © copagov