Thursday, July 21, 2005

Shootout in Rocinha, protesting residents block traffic on the nearby expressway

The Viva Favela website reports (in Portuguese) on a shootout last Friday between cops and drug traffickers in Rocinha. Apparently, the military police invaded the favela because they wanted to interrupt the birthday celebration of the chief of trafficking, Erismar Rodrigues Moreira (known on the street as Bem-Te-Vi.) One resident was shot in the leg in the 3-hour standoff. The war between traffickers and the police in Rocinha has claimed five lives. This time around, some Rocinha residents blocked a nearby highway tunnel in protest against the violence. The community was set to have a meeting about the violence today. I'll try to post more when I know more.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the success of your book "Shadow Cities", I can't seem to find it in stock anywhere beyond the cyber world! I am interested on how these squatting communities or settlements orignally form into existence. I am also interested in finding out more about the social structure within the squatting communities. Are there bylaws that the squatters follow, unwritten rules of social conduct, heirarcharies? I have ordered your book and therefore do not yet know if these issues are covered in any depth. However, I was wondering if you could shed some light on the subject or perhaps point me in a direction that might lead to more information on these particular subjects pertaining to squatting communities.

rn said...

Some big questions. I'll post more about them on the main part of the blog relatively soon. A few quick things though: most of these communities arise spontaneously, in that people migrate to the cities in search of work. They find work but cannot find affordable places to live, so they build for themselves on land they don't own. In the early days, the land invaders are often groups of migrants from the same rural areas. As communities grow, they become more open and diverse. There are few written rules, but lots of unwritten ones (a buddy of mine in Brazil told me that in the early days of Rocinha there was a 'law' against building homes from permanent materials...but what he meant was that it was simply unwise to call too much attention to the community by building too fancy.) There are hierarchies -- some based on who's the most powerful, most wealthy, has access to politicians, or has been there the longest. Once the communities have been in place for a while, they develop local institutions, such as residents associations, which come to play a role in the future development of the community (in Rio de Janeiro, I know of one relatively small favela where the residents association passed a restriction on the height of buildings because it feared the community was becoming too dense; the ruling had no true legal force, but everyone in the community accepted it.)

matt said...

well, i'm currently in rocinha, and things remain a bit tense. the police in rio have stated that they do not intend to back off until the current leader of ADA, bem-te-vi, is either dead or in jail. right now about 800 cops are remaining on patrol in and around the favela in order to prevent the bocas de fumo from remaining in operation. according to the mainstream rio media they are also trying to prevent the traffickers from having more birthday parties for bem-te-vi. i'll try to post more updates here as things progress.

rn said...

Many thanks, Matt. I hope the tensions recede. Keep these updates coming, if you can.

For those that don't know the back story, Rocinha, for much of its recent life, was controlled by a drug gang known as the Comando Vermelho. The CV was in charge when I was in Rocinha in 2001.

About a year ago, Amigos dos Amigos, a rival gang, invaded Rocinha and booted the CV. So now the favela is controlled by the ADA.

It's been estimated that, despite the power of the gangs, only 1% of favela residents are involved in the drug trade. Still, many people prefer the dealers to the cops because the cops are corrupt and brutal and don't care about the favelas, whereas the dealers invest in their home turf and actually provide services for their communities.

Gabe said...

Rob, ADA didn't actually invade Rocinha--it's a common misperception, probably resulting mostly from the Brazilian media's poor coverage of the conflict. The king pins of Rocinha switched their allegiance to ADA after they were attacked by Comando Vermelho. This means that they have been receiving assistance, mostly in the form of soldiers, from other ADA favelas during this whole conflict with Comando Vermelho, which has no end in sight.

rn said...

Thanks for the correction, Gabe. Now a question: why were the kingpins of Rocinha attacked by the CV if they were part of the CV? Seems like something must have been going on behind the scenes.

Anonymous said...

this is what i heard happened. Lulu went to jail, brutal dono and Dudu came to power, who was generally more well liked. I believe they were both CV. However, Lulu, fom jail, was plotting to take back Rocinha whenhe got out. So members loyal to Lulu attacked while Dudu was in power. Please correct if I'm wrong, it was a long confusing story when i heard it

rn said...

Hey anon: From the outside, it's hard to keep the stories straight. This was the way I heard it:

Dudu was the brutal guy who was in jail. Lulu was running the favela and was generally well-liked. Somehow Dudu got out (the details are vague) and started plotting. The speculation is that the powers that be in the Comando Vermelho were angry with Lulu--the beef may go back to a former Rocinha dono named Denis who was killed in jail and was considered too independent and unpredictable for their liking--and supported Dudu's insurrection. Both Dudu and Lulu were Comando Vermelho lieutenants, so I'm not sure why they switched to Amigos dos Amigos.

The sad result is that, between the intra- and inter-gang rivalries and the periodic police invasions, Rocinha is much more dangerous than it was when I was there.

Anonymous said...

so, another comment, the reason I heard they switched to ADA was because LuLu was supporting independent factions of ADA in Rocinha. I was in Rocinha for a while, from january through july and heard these stories from a friend, not making them %100 credible, but at least %90 credible.

rn said...

I heard the same thing, that Lulu turned to ADA for help when Dudu was getting support from the CV for his invasion. But that wouldn't explain why, after Dudu took over, the favela joined ADA. I'm told the favela is still ADA today.

Anonymous said...

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favelado said...

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Alexandra said...

im definetly no expert, I just visited the favela on a tour a couple days ago but my tour guide told me that when lulu went to jail he made an agreement with dudu that he should runt hings for now and when he (dudu) got back from jail he would take back control. But as it turns out the people generally liked Lulu so he didn't want to give up his power and when Dudu came back (he got permission fromt he jail to come home for christmas) he wanted his power back, when he didn't get it he went to the gangs big big bosses and got them to back him in an ambush of the favela. Lulu was killed and Dudu ended up getting put back in jail. Lulu's supporters were so angry that the big bosses of their gang back Dudu in the ambush that they joined the rival gang, and that's why they switched.

im not sure if this is right though, most sources say that Lulu was killed by police.

Also while I was there I heard rumors that an ambush was going to happen on new years in the favela..does anyone know if something happened?? I'm dying to know. thanks all.