Rio: The Army Charges Up Providência Hill; Residents Charge “Abuses”

“On Saturday, during a Northeastern-style festival, residents got sick from the smell of pepper spray. We booed the soldiers and threw eggs. An officer apologized, saying the pepper spray was fired off accidentally,” said domestic worker Lilian Atala, 36. –Estadão on the army up the hillside, December 2007

[Human rights] NGOs dream of using the criminal power and the weapons of the traffic in favor of a social revolution they deem to be imminent and inevitable … It is needful for us not to heed these caveats, and to assume the risks and the collateral damage. It would be impossible to be more explicit than the words of Gov. Sergio Cabral about the narcotraffickers: “They are terrorists, they are evildoers.” – Col. Mário Sérgio de Brito Duarte, former commander of BOPE, the “trooper elite” of the Rio military police — unofficial but highly publicized motto: “We kill to create a better world” – and currently in charge of strategic planning for SESEG, Rio de Janeiro.

Despite the history of violence in the hillside settlement, residents complained of the Army’s conduct. A report published by the Folha yesterday shows the dissatisfaction of residents with such measures as an 8 pm curfew, children disrespectfully subjected to searches, adults smacked around, homes and businesses invaded and plundered, and a ban on using the sports field. Folha on the Army up the hillside, March 2006

Moradores acusam Exército de abuso: Pedro Dantas of the Estadão on the occupation of the Morro da Providência in Rio de Janeiro by the Brazilian 9th Motorized Infantry Brigade. Headline:

“Residents accuse the Army of abuses”

An earlier report on the occupation by Dantas, on December 15, had stated that

À tarde, o general obteve sua primeira vitória ao aplacar a revolta de líderes comunitários contra o projeto social previsto para a favela.

” … the general achieved his first victory by appeasing a revolt by community leaders against the social project planned for the shantytown.”

See also:

As the Folha news morgue indicates, the Army battled it out with drug traffickers in the region in 2006 as well. On which more later.

Related story: Rio soldiers arrested for selling military ammunition to the drug traffic.

On which more in a minute, but see

A state official was assassinated yesterday, reported by a fusilade of 7.62mm NATO rounds — of the kind used in the Belgian FAL assault rifle, for example. Which is reserved for military and police use in Brazil. See

One of the principal objections to the use of military units in Rio was a rationale also heard frequently in the debate over militarization of the “drug wars” in Mexico: It presents a high risk of infecting the military with drug-traffic corruption. A number of Colombian veterans of the drug wars were heard warning the Mexicans of this risk, as I recall.

A Mexican infantry brigade, as I recall, had to be completely disbanded for this reason. It had become a narcobrigade.

The infamous Zetas are former elite soldiers.

Terminou em briga o início das obras do projeto Cimento Social, marcado para ontem, no Morro da Providência, no Rio. Acompanhada de moradores, a presidente da associação comunitária, Márcia Silva, acusou militares de abusos contra moradores, arrombamento de residências e até de disparar tiros e gás pimenta na favela. “Caso o Exército se retire, as obras acontecerão sem problemas. Os militares que estão na comunidade abusam da autoridade. Das 120 casas que eles pretendem reformar, conseguiram autorização só para 11, sendo que 2 precisam de reformas estruturais antes de obras de fachada. Anteontem, 20 moradores recusaram as obras”, disse Márcia.

The start of works on the Social Cement project, scheduled for today in the Morro da Providência community of Rio, ended up in a fight. Accompanied by residents, the president of the residents’ association, Márcia Silva, accused Army personnel of abusing residents, destroying residences and even firing tear gas in the community. “If the Army leaves, the project will go forward without problems. The military personnel in the community are abusing their authority. Of the 120 houses they intend to renovate, they have authorization to work on only 11, two of which need structural renovation before their facades can be renovated. The day before yesterday, 20 residents refused [to have the work done on their houses],” Márcia said.

A mudança de atitude da líder comunitária surpreendeu o Comando Militar do Leste (CML). Em reunião com o general Williams Soares, comandante da 9ª Brigada de Infantaria Motorizada, que ocupa a favela desde quinta-feira, ela disse que a comunidade não tinha problemas com os militares e foi atendida ao pedir a redução do efetivo de 200 para 60 homens na ocupação, que pode durar até um ano.

This change in attitude suprised the high command of the Eastern Military District (CML). In a meeting with Gen. Soares, commander of the 9th Motorized Infantry Brigade, which has occupied the shantytown since last Thursday, she [Márcia] said the community had no problems with the Army, and her request for a troop reduction from 200 to 60 men was honored …

What is the source for that statement? Did Dantas attend the meeting? Did he confirm with Márcia that she had expressed this sentiment?

A Assessoria do CML informou que a Ouvidoria da Delegacia do quartel da Companhia do Comando do CML, em Santo Cristo, situado ao lado do Morro da Providência, não registrou nenhuma queixa da população.

The CML press office said that the ombudsman of the barracks police of the CML Command Company, in Santo Cristo, near the Morro da Providência, did not register any complaints from citizens.

Segundo moradores, a tranqüilidade dos primeiros dias de ocupação se transformou em tensão após incidentes ocorridos no fim de semana. “No sábado, durante uma festa nordestina, moradores passaram mal com o cheiro de gás pimenta.Vaiamos os soldados e jogamos ovos. Um oficial pediu desculpas e disse que o spray foi disparado acidentalmente”, disse a empregada doméstica Lílian Atala, de 36 anos.

Residents say the tranquility of the first days of occupation turned to tension after incidents that occurred over the weekend. “On Saturday, during a Northeastern-style festival, residents got sick from the smell of pepper spray. We booed the soldiers and threw eggs. An officer apologized, saying the pepper spray was fired off accidentally,” said domestic worker Lilian Atala, 36.

Ela afirmou que uma casa sua em construção foi arrombada por militares durante o final de semana.

She said a house she was building was torn down by soldiers over the weekend.

Oops. Sorry about that. Honed to a fine edge by service in Haiti, the 9th pulls an extremely undiplomatic Homer Simpson in a high-profile deployment?

A polêmica sobre o projeto se arrasta desde o anúncio da iniciativa, proposta pelo senador Marcelo Crivella (PRB-RJ). O senador afirmou que o tráfico de drogas poderia estar por trás dos opositores das obras e foi ameaçado de processo pela entidade. Ontem, ele não comentou o caso.

The controversy over the project has dragged on since the initiative was announced by Senator Marcelo Crivella (PRB-RJ). The Senator said the drug traffic could be behind those who oppose the project, and has been threatened with a lawsuit by the local association. He refused comment on the case yesterday.

On “community protests are orchestrated by the drug traffic” — as well as “our troopers, honed to a fine edge, would never fire off BFGs in full rock and roll mode in a residential neighborhood — see also

We have all seen troopers honed to a fine edge shooting off BFGs in full rock ‘n’ roll mode on the morning news. During the Catumbi incident, for example (above).

I read a little something about this the other day, as to how a loophole was found to permit this sort of operation when public policy seems to be dead set against it, including on Constitutional grounds.

Researching. Meanwhile, the Folha de S. Paulo reported on March 11, 2006:

Os moradores do morro da Providência tentam seguir a rotina apesar das trocas de tiros entre traficantes e Exército. Durante o confronto na manhã de hoje, muitos insistiam em sair para o trabalho e se recusavam a voltar para suas casas.

Providência residents are trying to follow a normal routine despite exchanges of gunfire between drug traffickers and the Army. During the confrontation this morning, many insisted on going out to work and refused to return to their houses. 

O morro da Providência é controlado pelo CV (Comando Vermelho), e os moradores já estão acostumados a disputas entre facções rivais do tráfico. Em novembro do ano passado, traficantes do morro do Zinco (Estácio, zona central), comandado pela ADA (Amigos dos Amigos), atacaram a tiros o morro. A ação foi uma resposta a um ataque do morro da Mineira, dominado pelo CV, ao morro da Coroa, da ADA.

The area is dominated by the CV, and residents are accustomed to disputes among rival factions. In November of last year, trafficers from the ADA-controlled Morro do Zinco attacked their community, in response to an attack by the Morro da Mineira (CV) on the Morro da Coroa (ADA). 

Apesar do histórico de violência do morro, moradores se queixam da atuação do Exército. Reportagem publicada pela Folha ontem mostra a insatisfação dos moradores com medidas como toque de recolher a partir das 20h, crianças revistadas com grosseria, adultos estapeados, casas e comércios invadidos e depredados e proibição de uso da quadra de esportes.

Despite the history of violence in the hillside settlement, residents complained of the Army’s conduct. A report published by the Folha yesterday shows the dissatisfaction of residents with such measures as an 8 pm curfew, children disrespectfully subjected to searches, adults smacked around, homes and businesses invaded and plundered, and a ban on using the sports field.

[tktktktk]

Uma família do Ceará que não quis se identificar afirmou hoje que nunca viu uma situação como a de agora, com a ocupação do Exército. Uma das moradoras diz que só não sai do morro porque somente no Rio conseguiu ganhar dinheiro. Ela trabalha como gari.

[tktktktk]

Outra família que migrou do Ceará para o Rio de Janeiro afirma que não consegue mais dormir porque não há como distinguir os barulhos de fuzil, pistola e granada. Dizem que gostariam de sair do morro, mas que não tem para onde ir.

[tktktktk]

O morro da Providência é considerado oficialmente a primeira favela do Rio de Janeiro. Ele fica atrás da Central do Brasil e foi batizado no final do século 19 como morro da Favela, nome que se espalhou para outras comunidades carentes do Rio de Janeiro e do país. Os primeiros moradores do morro da Favela eram ex-combatentes da guerra de Canudos e chegaram ao local por volta de 1897.

Providência is officially recognized as the first favela of Rio. It is located behind the central train station and was named Morro da Favela in the late 19th century. The name came to be used for other poor commmunities in Rio and throughout Brazil. The first residents of the Morro da Favela were former combatants in the Canudos war and arrived in around 1897.

Former combatants on which side?

Probably the government side.

The other side — the Mahdi Army of Antônio Conselheiro — was viciously massacred, and its women and children sold into prostitution and servitude.

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