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29/11/2010 - 12h39

Governor of Rio says the Army will likely remain up to seven months in slum areas

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RODRIGO RÖTZSCH
FROM RIO DE JANEIRO

The state governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral (PMDB), said on Monday morning an agreement already exists between the state government and the national Defense Ministry for the Army to ensure law and order in the recently re-conquered territories of Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemão until such a time as it is possible to install two UPP (Pacifying Police Units) in the communities.

See the map of violence in Rio

"The continuing presence of the troops has already been agreed (with the Defense Ministry). We are now in the phase of technical discussions, which don't involve me, but Secretary Mariano and Defense Ministry's military officers. This is being done since yesterday to ensure peace and order in the transition to the UPP model."

With help from the Armed Forces, police occupied Complexo do Alemão on the morning of Sunday (28th) practically without facing resistance from drug gang members, after a series of attacks launched in the city since the 21st involving 106 torched vehicles. The attacks were seen as being the result of drug gangs' resistance to the installation of UPPs in 13 slums of Rio. On Thursday the police had already entered Vila Cruzeiro, a slum that borders on Complexo do Alemão.

The governor said the Defense Ministry's request, when it is formally presented, will be for troops to remain for a period of six to seven months, although the commander-general of Rio's Military Police, Mário Sérgio Duarte, "who is more of an optimist than myself", believes it should be possible to have the UPPs up and going in under four months.

The two UPPs are seen as likely requiring from 2,000 to 3,000 Military Police officers, to be chosen from among the 7,000 rookie officers who will graduate in 2011.

According to governor Cabral, the Army will be charged with "permanent offensive policing" during the transition phase, until the establishment of the UPPs. In other communities that have already been pacified, this function was entrusted to the Bope (the Military Police's Special Police Operations Battalion).

The Army mobilization aims to avoid the chance of the drug gangs getting reorganized in Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemão during the time necessary for the establishment of the UPPs. It will also free the police forces for new operations over the next few months. Governor Cabral did not discuss the next measures yesterday, but recognized that actions are under consideration for reclaiming Rocinha and Manguinhos, two of the most important remaining drug traffic havens in Rio.

"The territories of Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemão have been re-conquered; now we have to think of the next steps. We're not going to be content with the glory of yesterday and relax. We woke up early to the challenges of today, tomorrow and next few weeks and months, namely, to re-conquer territories still occupied by the parallel power. The next steps involve our integration with the Defense Ministry and the Federal Police, both in ad-hoc intelligence actions and in more ostensive offensives, as in the case of Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemão," said Cabral.

By Sunday afternoon, at least 50 people had died in the wave of violence that started a week ago. Of this total, 36 were suspects killed by the Military Police, seven died at the hands of the Civil Police and seven deaths were recorded in public hospitals of the city.

Translation from the Portuguese by CLARA ALLAIN

 

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