Laws in the favelas

The Pacifying Police Units programme began in December 2008 with the installation of the first UPP in Morro Dona Marta, in Botafogo, South Side. There are currently 38 units in 232 communities, with more than 1.5 million people assisted directly (community inhabitants) and indirectly.

The UPP came to Rocinha in 2011, and a lot has changed, initially, in the routine of the inhabitants. In the first meeting, days after the occupation, the Bope command summoned the population to announce the main "rules" which would come into effect in the favela. Compulsory use of a helmet, qualification and vehicle documentation for driving motorbikes; establishment of the noise regulation (no loud music after 10 p.m.); and the compulsory authorisation from the Town Hall and the Fire Brigade for holding public parties. In short, rules in force for the city, and which were before not applied at Rocinha, had to be met. Up to here, so far so good.

The problem is that the "legalisation of the territory" stopped here. Urban legislation, present in the rest of the city, was never established. Nothing was discussed with the population regarding location for trade, residence, schools, timetables for leisure and health facilities. Therefore, a permanent source of conflicts — arguments between neighbours, for example — is still being resolved by the dictatorship of "we can't do nothing about it".

In addition to this frustration, the lack of news regarding what is yet to come leaves inhabitants apprehensive and with their life in suspense. There are commitments to relocate the population that lives above "elevation 100" — the entire hill! — living in unhealthy areas, to transfer them to the locations of the future cable car stations. But the government says nothing.

In spite of the imprisonment of several trafficking leaders, of the apprehension of a true arsenal of sophisticated weapons and tonnes of drugs, the streets are still filled with people in desperate need: people who earn their living from drugs and for drugs. With no support of any sort.

There is another major factor in this entire question. A gang leader must be imprisoned, but with the guarantee of a prison system that will rehabilitate and resocialise him. A man who has been resocialised has an amazing positive effect on the community, maybe even bigger than the installation of a UPP. This rehabilitation destroys widespread prejudice, especially in children. Bringing down a human being is not enough to bring us happiness and peace.

Today, almost ten years after the first UPP, we still ask: what are the laws of the favelas?

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