Last week, in a gesture reminiscent of the raising of the American flag over Mount Suribachi, the Brazilian forces of law and order signaled their victory over the drug lords by displaying a national flag on the heights above the Favela do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro.
More than forty tons of marijuana and three hundred kilograms of cocaine were confiscated in the operation.
Hundreds of weapons were apprehended.
Dozens of felons arrested.
The ramshackle shantytown now enjoys a degree of peace and tranquility that no resident under the age of ten has ever known.
To achieve the result, eight hundred members of the military joined with more than two-thousand cops, civil, military and federal to pull off the highly-successful operation. But, as always seems to be the case, there were a few rotten apples in the barrel.
Someone apparently tipped-off many of the gang leaders, who were caught on videotape by Brazil’s major television network as they escaped over a back road that bordered the favela.
Worse: Many residents fled during the operation and returned to find their homes broken into. Not by the bandits, but by the police.
Police corruption, as the above cartoon illustrates, is endemic. The cop is telling himself, you’re under arrest.
Indeed, the situation is so bad in some areas that it’s hard to distinguish between the cops and the criminals. In this one, the kid looks one way and says, “Look, Mom, a crook.” Then he looks the other way: “Look, Mom, a cop.” And when he bursts into tears: “Who can help us now?”
Here are a few examples of the kind of stuff that took place in Rio during the sweep:
From longtime resident Daise dos Santos, the cops stole seven bottles of imported perfume. She’d planned to sell them to pay her credit card bill.They nicked a forty-two inch TV, and two-hundred Reais in cash, from Carlos Lopes da Silva.
They swiped a television, a notebook computer and her daughter’s basketball uniform from Isabel dos Santos.
dispatched a mobile unit to the region, and residents have been invited to drop in and file complaints against the police.
A full and detailed investigation of each case has been promised.
Proof, of course, is hard to come by.
So the betting is that there won’t be many arrests.
Or that much of what has been stolen will ever be recovered.
Leighton - Monday