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BRIEF

Governor: Rio de Janeiro Almost Free From Gang Rule

BRAZIL / 16 MAY 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

In a May 13 interview with Infobae America, the governor of Rio de Jaineiro says that the city is almost pacified, after a string of operations against drug gangs. 

"We were defied by the power of criminals," Sergio Cabral Filho told the news agency. "Thanks to the Brazilian army, we are making history with a capital H."

Since 2008, the city has deployed specially trained police squads, known as Police Pacification Units (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora - UPP), to "clear" favelas from gang rule. There are now UPP units in 55 of the city's favelas. The policy, intended to improve security in time for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, has brought government forces to slums that previously saw little state presence.

Cabral spoke highly of the government's efforts to expand state services in the favelas. 

"We had to confront the challenges of this parallel world," Cabral said. "In Rio de Janeiro for many years, this parallel world was normal... parallel economic activities, illegal gangs, illegal television... The legal world ignored this parallel world. Even TV was illegal. Now there are businesses offering 45 channels for 29 reales for these pacified communities."

Cabral added that drug gangs were still present in Rio, but that their military power was greatly reduced. 

"There is no more parallel power," he said. 

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