RIO DE JANEIRO – Some 3,200 soldiers took part Friday in an operation against organized crime in three shantytowns on the west side of Rio de Janeiro, where security is now controlled by the Brazilian army, military sources reported.
The operation, which also has strong police support, is being rolled out in the “favelas,” or shantytowns, of Vila Alianca, Coreia and Vila Kennedy, where this week a 26-year-old deputy commander of a Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) was slain by criminals in an attempted robbery.
The armed forces have established a security perimeter around the shantytowns under their control, have made roads safe for travel and have also performed other stabilizing actions like the one last Tuesday in Kelson’s shantytown, near the navy’s largest training facility, where security was reinforced after military personnel received threats.
According to the regional Security Secretariat, airspace in the area could eventually be off-limits for civilian aircraft, without affecting flights at Santos Dumont Airport or Rio de Janeiro-Galeao International Airport.
The secretariat noted that the operation was planned before Brazilian President Michel Temer signed a decree a week ago ordering federal intervention of the Rio de Janeiro security area by the army until late 2018.
The measure was ratified by both houses of the legislature, amid harsh objections by social organizations and sectors of the opposition that say the decision pandered to political interests.
Nonetheless, troops had already been stationed in Rio since midway through last year, when the Brazilian government deployed a contingent of 10,000 soldiers there to strengthen security, though their actions, which have been limited, have not led to a decrease in violence.
But now, with the current federal intervention, the wave of violence is expected to be ended that has bloodied Rio for months and which last year racked up 5,731 violent deaths including more than 100 police officers, as well as 10 children hit by stray bullets.