By Luiza Souto
FOLHA DE S. PAULO/ Worldcrunch
RIO DE JANEIRO - Still several years ahead of hosting the World Cup and Summer Olympics, the "clean up" of this city's slums has apparently already begun. The Brazilian goverment launched a three-day military operation in the Santo Amaro favela of Rio de Janeiro to remove crack users, driving out of the area more than 400 non-residents between last Friday and Monday.
The Santo Amaro slum is considered the largest drug distributor for the wealthy of the Rio South Area. The government announced that Santo Amaro will be occupied by the National Public Security Force for an undetermined amount of time.
Still, many local residents doubt all the attention will last after 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. "I think this is nothing more than a make-over," says one resident, who preferred to remain anonymous. "The government cant keep this up for a long period." Another added: "As soon as the big events finish, everything will return to how it was."
The atmosphere during the round-up was tranquil. According to police officers, there was no hostility coming from the residents, who seem to have no problem with the operation. "The problem is going to be down the hill," says sergent Mata, referring to the wealthier areas below. "As these users can no longer stay here, they will try to occupy the streets." In Rio, slums are located over hills distributed along the city.
Psychologist Maura Cristina, a coordinator for the Facing Crack Project, told Folha that the goal is to take users off of the streets, and bring them to shelters maintained by the Special Protection Division. In total, Rio has 2,741 places among private and public shelters.
"We cant force adults to stay at these places, but those under 18 are going to stay in compulsory shelters, she says.
Read more from Folha in Portuguese
Photo - David Berkowitz