Many are talking about ‘pacification’ of Rio’s favelas. Pacification refers to the Police Pacification Unit (UPP) program implemented by Rio de Janeiro’s state government that is meant to drive drug traffickers out of Rio favelas through military police occupation. Almost every news story about Rio and the World Cup discusses pacification. Infrequently, however, do these stories speak to the demands that are being made by many favela residents who are organizing against the state. Thus, I’d like to share a Manifesto written by organizations like Ocupa Alemao in Complexo do Alemao, Rio de Janeiro, and signed by hundreds of other people/organizations. The official manifesto in Portuguese can be found here: http://www.peticao24.com/manifesto_queremos_ser_felizes_e_andar_tranquilamente_na_favela
Manifesto: We want to be happy and walk in the favela where we were born
For decades the State has not recognized the favela as an integral part of the city, denying favela residents their basic rights. Today, after three years of public security occupation in Complexo de Alemão, we see that the path to the guarantee of our civil rights is still long, as the branch of the State that most enters the favela is the armed branch. Pacification does not exist without schools, pacification does not exist without health, pacification does not exist without basic sanitation, pacification does not exist without leisure. The symbol of peace in Rio de Janeiro cannot be arms, guns, rifles and tanks.
In the last few weeks, newspaper headlines have been dominated by articles about conflicts occurring daily in UPP-occupied areas, above all in Complexo de Alemão. These headlines are accompanied by declarations made by the State Security Secretary, José Mariano Beltrame, who presented the option of extending the militarization of favelas as a possible solution for the problems. It seems that in his view, all conflict is resolved by increasing the presence of the police and other armed forces in these territories.
It is our understanding that this perspective needs to be changed, as it is clear that the presence of police alone has not brought peace. There are many cases of abuses of power, arbitrariness and disappearances in favelas with a UPP as is the deaths of Amarildo, in Rocinha; José Carlos Lopes Júnior, 19 years old, resident of São João; Thales Pereira Ribeiro D’Adrea, 15 years old, Morro do Fogueteiro; Jackson Lessa dos Santos, 20 years old, Morro do Fogueteiro; Mateus Oliveira Casé, 16 years old, Manguinhos; Paulo Henrique dos Santos, 25 years old, City of God; Aliélson Nogueira, 21 years old, Jacarezinho; Laércio Hilário da Luz Neto, 17 years old, Morro do Alemão e Israel Meneses, 23 years old, Jacarezinho. We cannot fail to mention the police officers who have died in this suicidal action of the State. We do not accept these deaths. No life is worth more than another and the State must take responsibility. After all, what kind of peace do we want to promote? Warlike peace? Militarized peace?
This past Sunday, March 16, the front page of the Extra newspaper announced that residents of Complexo de Alemão had taken to the streets to protest under the orders of drug traffickers and that they were receiving money for doing so. Once again, the mainstream media has played its role in the criminalization of social movements and of the favela. We refuse to accept the way in which mainstream communication channels have covered the police action in Complexo de Alemão and other favelas. Favela residents cannot be seen as the enemy. The government says that the favelas are pacified. Why then do the police display so many weapons? We want more dialogue between favela residents and the State’s public security present in the territory. We want the freedom to come and go. We want more schools and basic sanitation for residents instead of a cable car for tourists. We want the guarantee of our right to expression, which is where baile funk comes in. We do not want our homes violated without search warrants. Understanding the demands of Complexo de Alemão is simple. Understanding the demands of the favela is simple, because this is straight talk.
Proposals for “PEACE” must be elaborated collectively with all of the favela. A policy for peace is not built with one foot in the door, gratuitously assaulting residents. Peace is not built with a caveirão (war tank). In the current model, “independent of who gives the orders,” residents’ voices continue to go unheard. We are aware that the poor person has their place.