Rio official: Security improving Rio shanty lives
A top Rio de Janeiro security official says the legacy of the
2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics will be the peace and improved
services that added security is bringing to the city’s
long-deprived poor neighborhoods.
Jose Mariano Beltrame, secretary for public security in Rio,
told a sports and security conference in Qatar that Rio’s
three-year program has broken down barriers to slums that for
decades were essentially cut off from prosperous parts of the city
of 6 million people.
”We are changing the city, recovering the areas and also
installing police into those areas,” Beltrame said. ”Most
importantly, it is not only the police presence. The police are
doing the first intervention there. The police are creating
possibility to include these people into normal life.”
In 2009, city officials launched a ”pacification” program, in
which security forces clear heavily armed gangs from slums and
establish a police presence. The program in about 15 percent of the
slums serving 280,000 people so far aims to reduce violence in Rio
before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, and improve the
lives of shanty town residents by bringing in basic services.
Beltrame said the project is already showing ”quantitative
results” including a drop in crime rates in the city. He said that
funding for the program extends through 2014 and he was confident
the gains would hold and result in a ”permanent legacy.”
”If we don’t have this, we will have less public security,”
Beltrame said. ”The legacy we are creating has to start now.”
Drug factions began taking over slums in the 1980s, when the
cocaine trade heated up. Lucrative drug sales led to the
introduction of military-grade weapons, fueling deadly
confrontations between the gangs and with the police.
The Rio state government over the years either ignored the slum
violence or responded only when the killings spilled into Rio’s
rich neighborhoods. The pacification program has been widely
supported but raised questions over why it took so long for
authorities to act. There are also questions over whether the
program can actually reduce the drug trade.