The controversial decision to utilize 800 army personnel plus airforce helicopters to battle Rio’s druglords means war, indeed. O Globo‘s headline today, pictured at the lower right-hand side of the screen, is “D Day for the War on Drug Traffic”.
Here is a TV Globo video that everyone was watching yesterday, of a narcotraffic army fleeing the Vila Cruzeiro favela in the north zone Penha section of Rio, as police moved in to successfully occupy it. The armed men fled under gunfire on foot, by motorcycle and in a crammed pickup truck to the Complexo do Alemão group of favelas, over an unoccupied hill separating the two areas.
Many cariocas lamented that the men got away, but police say they plan to hunt them down and arrest them.
Authorities say they plan to install a police pacifying unit, or UPP, in Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemão, but lack sufficient men to do so immediately. Forty favelas are to be occupied in Rio, eventually, of the city’s one thousand shantytowns. So far there are 12 fully operational UPPs. In addition to help from the army, military police yesterday got help from the navy, with the loan of night vision glasses, tanks and weapons.
Overnight, only four vehicles were set on fire, indicating that the terrorism may be on the wane. But many cariocas found themselves stranded last night, with virtually no buses, vans or other transportation available. A total of 44 vehicles were attacked in the state of Rio yesterday. A handful of people have suffered burn injuries.
Yesterday the police hotline Disque-Denúncia received a record number of calls topping any statistic in its 15 years of existence, with over 800 calls, most of them regarding the ongoing conflict.
Rumor continue to fly about what’s occurring and what might happen next. Twitter users came up with #everdade (it’s true) to tweet news that has been confirmed. O Globo published a special “War in Rio” insert today.
With the additional manpower and equipment, Rio’s police are expected to return the city to normalcy within days. And then, the challenges of maintaining the peace, of bringing social programs to occupied favelas, and of facing down militias will await us all.