Favela - Part II
Public policy towards favelas
The explosive growth of favelas triggered government removal campaigns. Police have little or no control in many favelas. A program in the 1940s called Parque Proletário destroyed the original homes of those dwelling in favelas in Rio and relocated them to temporary housing as they waited for the building of public housing.
Eventually little public housing was built and the land that was cleared for it just became reoccupied with new settlements of favela dwellers. In 1955, Dom Hélder Câmara, Archbishop of Recife and Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro, launched the Cruzada São Sebastião (St. Sebastian’s Crusade), a federally financed project to build an apartment complex in the biggest favela at the time, Praia do Pinto. The goal of the Cruzada was to transform favela dwellers into more acceptable citizens by only housing those willing to give up the vices associated with favela life. One was in Praia do Pinto and the other in the favela of Rádio Nacional in Parada de Lucas.
Removal programs of the favelas flourished once again in the 1970s under the military dictatorship, disguised as a government housing program for the poor. What really happened was that more favelas were eliminated and their residents were displaced to urban territory lacking basic infrastructure. The idea was to eliminate the physical existence of favelas by taking advantage of the cheaper prices of suburban land. The favela eradication programme became paralyzed eventually because of the resistance of those who were supposed to benefit from the programme and a distribution of income did not permit the poor to assume the economic burden of public housing that was placed on them.
In 1995, the Comitê para Democratização da Informática (now part of the Center for Digital Inclusion) started computer schools to reduce the digital divide. In 2007, President Lula announced the Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento, a four-year investment plan, which includes the promotion of urban development for the favelas. There have been public policies aimed at the favelas from local governments. In Rio de Janeiro, programs such as the favela-bairro and Rio-cidade have attempted to mitigate the problem.
The issues surrounding security and urbanization in favelas have grown tremendously with the announcement of the two worldwide events that Brazil will be hosting, the 2014 Fifa World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazil is now under more pressure to implement policies to secure and restructure favelas, especially in Rio and São Paulo. There have been multiple interventions by the government, mostly unsuccessful, to remove or rehabilitate favelas. However, the 2014 and 2016 competitions to be held in Brazil have lent a renewed urgency to these attempts. They are a test for the country as to whether it can ensure security for the thousands that will be pouring in, especially in a city where 6,000 people are killed each year.
Along with internal reforms, Rio de Janeiro’s government has begun to attempt a different type of favela intervention, going beyond periodic police raids to promote sustained rehabilitation from within as well. New plans to clear some favelas and rebuild others in a gentrification initiative would affect over 260,000 households and relocate about 13,000 families. To residents, this is all too reminiscent of the forced evacuations of the 1970s. In addition, the UPP program has only secured funding up until 2016, provoking suspicions that its only purpose is to temporarily stem violence until the Olympics and World Cup are over and the tourists return home.
Pacifying Police Unit
Beginning in 2008, Pacifying Police Units (Portuguese: Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora also translated as Police Pacification Unit), abbreviated UPP, began to be implemented within various favelas in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The UPP is a law enforcement and social services program aimed at reclaiming territories controlled by drug traffickers. The program was spearheaded by State Public Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame with the backing of Rio Governor Sérgio Cabral.
Rio de Janeiro’s state governor, Sérgio Cabral, traveled to Colombia in 2007 in order to observe public security improvements enacted in the country under Colombian President Álvaro Uribe since 2000. Following his return, he secured US$1.7 billion for the express purpose of security improvement in Rio, particularly in the favelas. In 2008, the state government unveiled a new police force whose rough translation is Pacifying Police Unit (UPP). Recruits receive special training as well as a US$300 monthly bonus. By October 2012, UPPs have been established in 28 favelas, with the stated goal of Rio’s government to install 40 UPPs by 2014.
The establishment of a UPP within a favela is initially spearheaded by Rio de Janeiro’s elite police battalion, BOPE, in order to arrest or drive out gang leaders. After generally securing an area of heavy weapons and large drug caches, and establishing a presence over several weeks to several months, the BOPE are then replaced by a new Pacifying Police Unit composed of hundreds of newly trained policemen, who work within a given favela as a permanent presence aimed at community policing.
Suspicion toward the police force is widespread in the favelas, so working from within is a more effective and efficient means of enacting change. Rio’s Security Chief, José Mariano Beltrame, has stated that the main purpose of the UPPs is more toward stopping armed men from ruling the streets than to put an end to drug trafficking. A 2010 report by the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) did note the drop in the homicide rate within Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. However, the report also pointed to the importance of initiatives that combine public security with intra-favela initiatives.
Journalists within Rio studying ballot results from the 2012 municipal elections observed that those living within favelas administered by UPPs distributed their votes among a wider spectrum of candidates compared to areas controlled by drug lords or other organized crime groups such as milícias.
Formation of favela society
The people who live in favelas are known as Moradores da favela, or pejoratively as favelados. Favelas are associated with extreme poverty. Brazil’s favelas can be seen as the result of the unequal distribution of wealth in the country. Brazil is one of the most economically unequal countries in the world with the top 10 percent of its population earning 50 percent of the national income and about 8.5 percent of all people living below the poverty line.
The Cantagalo favela is located on a hill in Rio’s Copacabana neighborhood