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

By Enrique Desmond Arias | Go to book overview

FIVE
Vigário Geral

On the night of 16 July 2003, a group of drug traffickers from the favela of Parada de Lucas invaded Vigário Geral, killed traffickers, and threatened the lives of other residents. Nearly ten years earlier, in the predawn hours of 30 August 1993, a group of police from the 9th Batalhão de Polícia Militar (Military Plice Batallion, BPM) invaded Vigário and killed twenty-one residents in alleged retaliation for traffickers killing a group of police the night before.1 In response, residents organized themselves and began to work with outside groups to control police and trafficker violence. These efforts had many repercussions in Rio and throughout Brazil. As a result of internal organizing, murder in the community dropped almost to zero during a period in the mid- to late 1990s. However, for a variety of reasons, violence began to creep upward in late 1999 and in the new decade. By 2003, despite continued NGO attention, regular violence had returned to the favela. The 16 July attack closed the door on an era in Vigário’s history and, perhaps, on popular mobilization in Rio.

With approximately 10,000 inhabitants, Vigário sits on the outskirts of the city and, until the 1993 massacre, rarely drew significant governmental attention. As a result, the community developed a strong internal political structure based around a powerful AM that delivered water service and laid out a regular street plan. With the growth of drug trafficking in the 1980s, the AM and other independent political organizations weakened, as newly empowered traffickers started delivering resources to residents. In 1986, an extended war began between traffickers from Vigário and Parada de Lucas, after a soccer game that resulted in the shooting death of a Vigário trafficker. During this period, residents note that police took bribes from traffickers and would stand on one of the bridges leading into the favela and watch traffickers deal drugs. Only with the breakdown in relations between police and drug traffickers after the 1993 massacre did favela residents organize effectively to counter both criminal and police violence and draw the attention necessary to push through longer-term policy reform. In this chapter, I will examine how an illegal network operated in the favela in the period prior to 1993, how a move-

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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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