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Brazilian troops' occupation of Rio de Janeiro slum: a media circus?

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Silvia Izquierdo/AP

(Read caption) Brazil's soldiers guard the streets of the Rocinha slum in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. Elite police units backed by armored military vehicles and helicopters invaded the largest slum in this seaside Olympic city before dawn Sunday. It's the most ambitious attempt yet to bring security to a town long known for its violence.

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Early Sunday morning, 3,000 police and soldiers arrived in Rocinha, the biggest slum in Rio, all of Brazil, and even Latin America, to begin the process of pacification. They arrived heavily armed, some in armored tanks. By the afternoon, troops hoisted the state and national flags, declaring the favela under state control. The massive operation met no resistance, and not a single shot was fired.

As some predicted, the occupation was peaceful. Rocinha, after all, does suffer from violence, but less in comparison to other favelas, notably Complexo do Alemão, which is known as Rio's "Gaza Strip." Rocinha is also a place constantly frequented by outsiders: Cariocas from around the city for funk parties, foreigners and Cariocas working for local NGOs, and tourists. Since the initial occupation was mostly uneventful, it left many wondering why such a massive operation with such intensive media coverage was necessary.


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