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August 12, 2009


Pedro Cambier

Medellín is for sure one great example that has to be followed by the Rio government. It was once the murder capital of the world, like you said, and now it's quite a peaceful place. The biggest problems that surrounded Medellin, and untill today Rio, is the drug mafia. 99% of all the violence related problems comes from the trafickers. I know that there are a lot of other problems in Rio and Medellin, but i really think that progress follows peace.
The biggest diference that allowed Medellin for such a radical change, and difficults Rio's change, is the fact that in Medellin, pretty much all the criminal activities concentrated around one man: Pablo Escobar. Once he was eliminated, the mafia network around him slowly degenerated and made the task to erradicate it much easier. I'm sure there are still violence problems there, but without dominating mafia groups, it gets much more sporadic. In Rio there are thousands of diferent criminal networks, each dominating a specific region, thanks to 20 years of criminal-related governers, it has gotten out of control, making it a much harder task to erradicate it.
Though there is still hope, one good thing that has been done lately in Rio is the UPP- Unidade de Policia Pacificadora ("Peacefying" Police Unit), which goes in the favelas, kicks all the drug mafia out and installs a new Police Department inside the favela, full of young, newly trained and motivated policemen, to ensure the mafia doesn't come back. This happened to 4 favels already and plans are to gradually take more and more over. Comunities under these new circumstances now live in a democratic (at least as democratic as the rest of Rio, as there is no real democracy here) and peaceful environments. People walk around without the fear of a new shootout, commerce is free and has fair competition, etc. I visited one of the favelas with this new democratic regime and the spirit was really filled with hope and optimism, like you mentionned about Medellin and unlike seen in other favelas.
I don't know if this is real solution, and we still have to see if it's going to be long lasting. But one thing is sure, people living in these new conditions are happier and more optimistic.

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