Rio de Janeiro has installed two new police pacification units (UPPs), in the latest stage of the government’s plan to cut gang control and crime in the city’s favelas.
The new UPPs, installed in the favelas Barreira do Vasco in the city’s North Zone and in Complexo do Caju in the Port Zone, are made up of 450 agents that will serve 26,000 residents of 15 communities. (See map, below.)
The military occupied these two favelas last month following an extensive preparation in which hundreds of people were arrested and drugs, weapons and motorcycles were seized. At the inauguration ceremony, Governor Sergio Cabral announced a 50 percent rise in bonuses for police who work in UPPs, an increase he said reflected the importance of the units.
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Following the installation of the two new units, Rio now has 32 UPPs operating in its favelas. The government’s goal is to have 40 such units operating by the end of 2013.
The UPPs have been hailed as a solution to criminal control and violence in Rio’s favelas, with a July 2012 study finding that UPPs had reduced annual homicides by approximately 60 per 100,000 inhabitants. According to recently published Brazilian government statistics, February 2013 saw the lowest number of homicides in Rio state for that month since 1991.
Despite the UPPs’ successes, concerns have arisen that gangs may be moving back into “pacified” favelas. In addition, the military’s tactic of pre-announcing favela invasions gives gangs time to relocate, which may simply push the criminals into new areas.