- Title: Favela gun battle highlights Rio crime surge, lauded security boss quits
- Date: 11th October 2016
- Summary: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF THEN-STATE SECURITY SECRETARY OF RIO DE JANEIRO, JOSE MARIANO BELTRAME, SPEAKING TO MEDIA AT DIFFERENT EVENTS (NOT A SOUNDBITE)
- Embargoed: 26th October 2016 18:32
- Keywords: Rio de Janeiro Olympics Jose Mariano Beltrame
- Location: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
- City: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice
- Reuters ID: LVA00553KAGXV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A lengthy shootout in a Rio de Janeiro slum on Monday (October 10) highlighted a wave of crime and violence reemerging in the city following a relatively peaceful time during the Olympics.
A daylong gun battle waged between state police and suspected traffickers in the community of Pavao-Pavaozinho, a hillside slum that overlooks some of Rio's wealthiest districts.
At least three of the suspects were killed and several policemen were injured in the fighting, which rattled the Southern Zone of Rio, home to its most popular beaches and tourist sites.
Also on Monday, fighting around Cidade de Deus, another well-known slum, led local officials to close 21 schools, causing 8,000 children to miss class.
Drug traffickers and other criminal gangs in Rio have grown emboldened to retake territory that the state had occupied in an ambitious effort to "pacify" large swaths of a metropolitan region of more than 12 million people that for decades had been fully controlled by outlaws.
Sociologist Inacio Cano said the incidents are disheartening, particularly in Pavao-Pavaozinho, due to the presence of the Pacification Police Units (UPP) which was supposed to be Rio's answer to violent crime.
"What happened yesterday is nothing new in Pavao Pavaozinho or any of the favelas in Rio. An operation with several deaths and injuries, a wide-ranging armed confrontation and what hurts is the fact that this happened in the heart of the southern zone and in an area where there are UPP (Pacification Police Unit), but we cannot forget that this unhappy phenomenon happens regularly in many favelas of Rio," he told Reuters.
Cano added that the UPP program has essentially failed.
"The UPP was an opportunity leave a model for the war on crime, the war on trafficking and we begin with a new model of preventative security to decrease the violence. But the UPP lost. Today, a large part of the police don't want to work in the UPPs and we are not changing the security with the UPPs and in the crisis scenario that we are living through, that is what is happening," he said.
In another blow to Rio security, the state security secretary of Rio de Janeiro will step down from his post, according to an aide.
Jose Mariano Beltrame, a former police officer who was lauded in recent years because of reduced violence and inroads against criminal gangs in Rio, met on Monday with the state governor and was expected to formalize his departure on Tuesday, the aide to Beltrame said.
The aide spoke on condition of anonymity due to not being authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Beltrame brought more stability to once-dangerous slums and paved the way for Rio to host the 2014 World Cup and the recent Olympic Games but in recent months has increasingly criticized a lack of resources and political commitment by the state government.
After an economic boom and heavy investment across Rio, Brazil's best-known and second-largest city, the state is now slashing its security budget and other public expenditures because of a financial crisis and the country's worst recession since the Great Depression.
Falling tax revenue, combined with lower royalties from Rio's offshore oil fields, will cause a 2016 state deficit of as much as 20 billion reais ($6.23 billion), according to government figures.
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