Thursday 20 November 2014

Brazilian police begin massive sweep of slums in 'pacification' programme

Published 30/03/2014 | 12:00

Police officers from the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) stand guard in front of graffiti at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro
 March 15, 2014. After a half-century of neglect, it seemed the government finally cared about Rio's notorious slums, or favelas, with the implementation of an effort to reclaim huge swaths of the city from criminals. This was done through police occupations of historically violent neighborhoods. Five years into the program, police now occupy 37 major favelas, home to 1.5 million people. Picture taken March 15, 2014. To match Insight BRAZIL-SLUMS/                  REUTERS/Pilar Olivares (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST SOCIETY POVERTY)
Police officers from the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) stand guard in front of graffiti at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Reuters/Pilar Olivares
The Rocinha slum in Rio de Janeiro. After a half-century of neglect, it seemed the government finally cared about Rio's notorious slums, or favelas, with the implementation of an effort to reclaim huge swaths of the city from criminals. Photo: Reuthers/Pilar Olivares
President of Brazilian Soccer Confederation Jose Maria Marin. Photo: AP Photo/Felipe Dana
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest against the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo March 27, 2014. Reuters/Nacho Doce
In less than three months, Rio will welcome tens of thousands of foreign soccer fans for the World Cup. Photo: Reuters/Sergio Moraes
Demonstrators protest against the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo. Photo: Reuters/Nacho Doce
A police officer from the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) patrols the streets of the Cantagalo slum in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Reuters/Pilar Olivares
Residents walk past by a graffiti in the Mare slums complex in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Reuters/Sergio Moraes

About 1,000 Brazilian police officers have begun invading a massive complex of slums near Rio de Janeiro's international airport, the latest impoverished area to be targeted for the government's "pacification" programme.

The security effort began in 2008 and is meant to help secure Rio before this year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Armoured personnel carriers on loan from the navy were used during the push into the Mare complex of shantytowns before dawn on Sunday. Army soldiers are expected to start patrolling the area in the coming days.

Mare has been dominated by drug gangs for decades. In recent months, they have attacked police outposts in other slums, a direct challenge to security ahead of Brazil's big events.

To date, there have been 37 police "pacification" outposts created in Rio.

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