The Pacifying Police Units (UPP) were created in 2008 with cinematic actions of police troops occupying Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. The idea announced was that proximity policing, in which the MPs would act in dialogue with the community, would replace operations that normally left many dead and injured. The implementation of social services was part of the plan.
The population believed in Cabral’s promise, so much so that they re-elected him for a second term. But the project’s clumsy expansion to several favelas without the necessary right and wrong reassessment eventually led to its failure. The promised social occupation did not happen, traffickers from occupied areas fled and inflated the drug trade in previously peaceful regions and in favelas with UPP, the militarization of the community remained, with excessive police power over the lives of residents.
Inspired by Cabral’s experience, Governor Cláudio Castro (PL) today started his own project to occupy the favelas, which he named “Integrated City”. About 1,200 men from the Military Police and the Civil Police entered and settled in the Jacarezinho favela, the same community where a police operation resulted in 28 deaths in May last year. This time, no shots were fired.
In addition to Jacarezinho, the favela of Muzema, in the west of the city, dominated by the militia, was also occupied.
From the outset, it is impossible not to think that the initiative has an electoral objective, since Castro starts the “Integrated City” a few months away from trying to be elected governor – currently he replaces Wilson Witzel (removed by impeachment), of whom he was vice president.
In any case, if it achieves the announced objectives, of providing security to the residents while enabling the arrival of social services and employment opportunities, there would be nothing but praise.
The first signs, however, are disheartening. On the first day of occupation, only the police showed up in the communities. In Jacarezinho and Muzema, no representatives of public authorities in the areas of sanitation, garbage collection, education or any other related to social benefits were seen.
Even because Mayor Eduardo Paes, responsible for most of the services that the community needs in everyday life, clarified on Twitter that he was not notified of the action. It is worth remembering that on the same day as the occupation of Jacarezinho, in 2012, as part of the UPP project, street sweepers from Comlurb and social service employees were in the area to collect garbage and rubble, in addition to registering the most needy population. This time, the residents only saw rifles.
Only next Saturday will Castro announce what are the items of this “social occupation” foreseen in the project. For the community and for Brazil, the image that remains for now is that of troops invading the favelas as if they were enemy terrain.
For a state that is in serious financial difficulties – the governor went to Brasília today to try to convince the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, to renew the Fiscal Recovery Regime -, Castro will have to explain very well where he is going to get resources to carry out the announced promised investment in these areas.
Even if considered by police logic, the first movements of this “Integrated City” leave something to be desired. Nothing prevents one of the side effects of the UPP occupations, the flight of criminals to regions where they ended up opening new trafficking fronts, from happening again.
Another important point: in the previous occupation attempt, thousands of soldiers were trained within the logic of community policing, something that did not happen this time.
Any attempt to re-establish the law must be encouraged in regions where huge numbers of workers dream of living in peace.
But there is little care so that these long-suffering residents do not feel used politically once again. Cláudio Castro has no right to frustrate them again.