Drugs & Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: Trafficking, Social Networks, & Public Security

By Enrique Desmond Arias | Go to book overview

THREE
Tubarão

In the early morning hours of 15 May 2000, a PM murdered five residents of the adjacent favelas of Tubarão and Ceuzinho. The angry populace, not accepting the police story that the men were drug traffickers, descended the hill into the streets of the wealthy neighborhood below, where they rioted. Televisions broadcast images of the tumult across the country, and within a month the government began to implement an innovative public security program based on contacts among police, NGOs, and local leaders that significantly decreased levels of violence in the two favelas. Although these reforms achieved some success, within three years they had unraveled and violence had returned to the previous high levels. Caught between the sea and the sky, the Morro do Tubarão stands out as an example of the contradictions of wealth and poverty that define Brazil.

This chapter is the story of Tubarão and its close neighbor, Ceuzinho, two favelas that are home to 15,000 to 17,000 residents, located on an extremely steep hill above one of Rio’s wealthiest neighborhoods. For many years prior to the 2000 massacre, Tubarão suffered from such significant violence that a doctor who tended to the community reported that residents had “substantial problems with anxiety.” According to a local plumber, many of the bodies were simply carelessly thrown on the main streets of the favela. Another gang war in 1997 resulted in a shooting on one of Rio’s most glamorous beaches on a hot and crowded Saturday afternoon. Throughout all of this, bullets rained down from the favela into apartments in the affluent neighborhoods nearby. A banker with whom I attended college recalled that he spent his first night in a posh Rio hotel watching the traces of bullets fly over the hill. During the nine months that I worked in these favelas in 1998 and 1999, ten murders occurred; another ten followed during the first six months of 2000. In 1996, a war between rival gangs in Tubarão and Ceuzinho left over one hundred dead. Because of its location close to wealthy neighborhoods, Tubarão and its neighbor have strong connections with state officials and have long received much more substantial assistance, from both the government and wealthy private citizens, than most other favelas. Given all of these efforts and concerns, how can

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Drugs & Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: Trafficking, Social Networks, & Public Security
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface - Departure ix
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Introduction - Thinking about Social Violence in Brazil 1
  • One - Setting the Scene- Continuities and Discontinuities in a "Divided City" 18
  • Two - Network Approach to Criminal Politics 39
  • Three - Tubarão 61
  • Four - Santa Ana 97
  • Five - Vigário Geral 130
  • Six - Comparative Analysis of Criminal Networks in Brazil and Latin America 169
  • Seven - Theorizing the Politics of Social Violence 189
  • Epilogue - Rio 2005 207
  • Notes 217
  • Bibliography 241
  • Index 269
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