Journal of Human Security | 2016 | Volume 12 | Issue 1 | Pages 4–34
DOI: 10.12924/johs2016.12010004
ISSN: 1835–3800
Journal of
Human Security
Research Article
Pacification & Mega-events in Rio de Janeiro: Urbanization,
Public Security & Accumulation by Dispossession
Lea Rekow
Arts, Education & Law Group, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
Green My Favela, 59 Franklin St, suite 303, New York, NY 20013, USA; E-Mail:;
Tel.: +1 16462572587
Submitted: 29 June 2015 | In revised form: 12 November 2015 | Accepted: 9 December 2015 |
Published: 18 February 2016
This paper outlines how Brazil’s latest public security initiative—its highly controversial Police
Pacification Campaign (UPP)—is an integral component of a neoliberal political framework that is enacting
rapid urbanization projects in and around strategically located favelas (informal settlements or slums) of Rio
de Janeiro. Specifically, it evaluates what kinds of economic development initiatives are moving forward, how
they are facilitated by the UPP, how they connect to the city’s mega-events, and who is profiting from them.
The article also examines how the pacification has affected residents in three favelas over a seven-year
period from the inauguration of the UPP in 2008 through to mid-2015.
Keywords: accumulation by dispossession; favelas; mega-events; police pacification; public security; Rio
de Janeiro
1. Introduction
Public insecurity has long impeded the effective governance
of Rio de Janeiro. Historical State [
] abandonment of
Rio’s favelas (informal settlements), coupled with these ter-
ritories being dominated by criminal gangs over the past
several decades, has gradually come to almost completely
disenfranchise people living in favelas. In addition, state
military incursions and inter-gang warfare have created a
scenario whereby many favelas resemble full-blown internal
armed conflict zones.
With Rio’s successful bid to host the 2014 World Cup
and 2016 Olympics it became a political priority for the city
to overcome its hyper-violent reputation and rebrand itself
as a desirable, international tourist destination. A new pub-
lic security campaign—the Unidade de Pol
ıcia Pacificadora
(UPP or police pacification campaign)—was crafted and
launched as a result [
]. Established in 2008, the UPP
has, to date, deployed more than 9,500 police officers to
‘pacify’ 38 favelas located close to affluent neighborhoods,
hotels, tourist spots, and mega-event venues (Figure 1) [2].
The remaining 700+ favelas of Rio have not been affected
by pacification. Many continue to be governed by armed
criminal gangs.
Under a sparse legal framework [3] Rio’s UPP program
has two main objectives:
To install Police Pacifying Units and Special Ops mili-
tary forces in favelas in order to take control of areas
dominated by drug trafficking gangs, militias or other
criminal organizations, and;
To permanently ensure the safety and respect for the
rights of the local human population, and to allow the
social occupation of these spaces to be made. Specifi-
cally, it is legally decreed that within 120 days of UPP
occupation, state government agencies, public utilities,
public/private partnerships partnerships and local gov-
2016 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published
under a Creative Commons Attribution License (
ernment will aim to provide full public services to favela
residents [4].
How this framework advances on the ground, how it
relates to crafting Rio as a mega-events city, and how this
results in a culture of accumulation by dispossession is
what this paper explores below.
Figure 1.
Map of pacified favelas in relation to Olympic
venues and tourist areas.
2. Objective
The goal of this paper is to describe how the UPP facilitates
Rio’s economic growth agenda in relation to developing the
city as an international mega-events venue. It contends
that many of the ways in which this plays out is explicative
of what David Harvey refers to as ‘accumulation by dispos-
session’ [
], and indicative of what James Freeman defines
as a case of state engineering aimed at controlling territory
through military occupation in order to capture assets by
force and produce channels for the expansion of private
capital [6].
The paper aims to illuminate on this position by pre-
senting case reports on three of Rio de Janeiro’s pacified
favelas. The reports aim to describe the social infrastruc-
ture contributions the UPP has made to these communities,
and moreover, how the UPP is a framework that uses mil-
itary occupation to facilitate these and other urbanization
projects; how these projects benefit private development in-
terests that are tied to mega-events; and how people living
in favelas are being affected in the process.
3. Structural Overview
As a precursor to the case studies, this paper describes
the historical backdrop to, and theoretical underpinnings
of pacification, and how this applies in the case of Rio de
Janeiro. It goes on to examine how pacification is advanc-
ing in three favelas under UPP control, and describes how
this relates to economic development, urbanization and
regularization activities. It scrutinizes what impact these
policies are having on the people living in favelas, and on
the formal neighborhoods that surround them. In particular,
the research aims to review social, economic, and secu-
rity indicators in relation to the UPP in general, and more
specifically, in the three pacified communities discussed.
This paper is structured to:
Present an overview of how Rio de Janeiro developed
as, and continues to be, a socially fragmented city.
Provide an overview of the pacification landscape in Rio
de Janeiro, and its theoretical underpinnings.
Describe how the UPP, and military policing in general,
operate in the favelas.
Define how crafting Rio as a mega-events city dispos-
sesses those at the Base of the Pyramid for private
gain, and outline the legal framework of ‘exceptionality
urbanism’ that supports this.
Describe the role and function of the UPP social pro-
f) Outline other scholarly assessments of pacification.
Explicate how pacification plays out on the ground in
three case studies, and summarize the patterns of simi-
larities and differences found in each.
Contextualize how this relates to David Harvey’s concept
of accumulation by dispossession.
Offer alternative perspectives on informality and present
possibilities for implementing social protection measures
for this sector.
The paper begins by providing some background to the
historical legacy of social fragmentation in Brazil’s favelas.
It then delineates the theoretical foundations of pacification.
It goes on to provide a general overview of how Rio’s polic-
ing efforts connect to the international ‘war on drugs’, and
of the struggles the UPP faces in relation to violence, cor-
ruption, and morale. The economic drivers of pacification
are then explored—how police operate to support state-
sponsored expansion of private development interests, and
how these activities, and rapid urbanization in general, are
supported through legislation. An assessment of the secu-
rity landscape then provides a precursor to the three case
reports. Each case report provides a different example of
how favela residents are being confronted by pacification.
A summary of the case reports then analyzes the UPP’s
impact in the favelas. In conclusion, the paper expands
on how the UPP, under the guise of public security policy,
is advancing processes of accumulation by dispossession,
and outlines some alternative approaches to government
intervention and informality.
4. A History of Social Fragmentation
Rio has always been a city characterized by social fragmen-
tation. From the time it became a vast Portuguese colony in
the 16
century until the abolition of slavery in 1888—Rio
de Janeiro was the center of a great slave regime [
]. Today,
it remains deeply marred by this heritage.
Approximately a quarter of the population—more than
1.5 million people [
]—live in the favelas and irregular hous-
ing settlements that started to spring up after the abolition
of slavery, and that now define much of the dramatic look
and feel of the city.
The people living in these favelas are extraordinarily re-
silient and highly adaptive. In a climate of poverty and state
neglect, they have independently built, administered and
created governing structures for hundreds of communities—
some of which are occupied by tens of thousands of people
and considered cities in themselves. These communities
have complex infrastructures, including their own systems
for land title exchanges, roads, churches, schools, resi-
dential neighborhoods, commercial areas, charities, mail
delivery systems, businesses, transportation services, and
utilities networks.
The people of the favelas have been historically active in
forming pro-democracy networks, residential associations,
and labor unions [
], and for shaping much of the rich cul-
ture for which Brazil is internationally renowned. They also
provide much of the cheap informal labor needed to keep
the formal city functioning—the doormen, garbage collec-
tors, construction workers, nannies, cooks, and cleaners.
The metaphor of segregation is often used to describe
the social and economic divide seen across the city, one
of Latin America’s most unequal. Residents either live in
the ordered and often luxurious and tranquil comfort of the
asfalto (formal neighborhoods), or in the chaotic and fre-
netic disquiet of the favelas. The contrast between the two
is stark. Thus, Rio remains a city largely characterized by a
great disparity in wealth and privilege.
Even though an image of racial democracy is often pro-
moted, it is Brazil’s ruling elite who remain in control of its
narrative, and who continue to ignore those excluded from
the bourgeoisie. Social scientist, Dr. Jorge da Silva (Rio’s
former State Military Police Chief of Staff), stresses that
this ought to be taken into consideration when attempting to
understand Rio society, and by extension when discussing
public security policy and the insolvent relationship between
the State and favela residents [11].
5. The Theoretical Underpinnings of Pacification
The term pacification is historically associated with the ac-
tivities of colonization—activities that are intricately woven
into the fabric of Brazilian history [
] and, in Rio de Janeiro,
are linked to counterinsurgency campaigns [13].
Pacification theoretically connects to an industrious com-
ponent that aims to build social order along with law and
order. According to the official narrative, pacification in Rio
de Janeiro is based on a military campaign that aims at con-
structing the social through urbanization projects connected
to mega-events [
]. This rhetoric is socially engineered
]—wrapped up in the language of the ‘war on drugs’,
‘public security’, ‘integration’, and ‘economic development’—
and delivered through a convincing media campaign that,
while presenting itself as a strategy for improving favela
communities, in reality focuses on securing public support
for military actions that strengthen economic expansion [
The manufacture of order through military suppression—or
what critical theorist Mark Neocleous calls “war as peace
[and] peace as pacification” [
]—is attached to an end
goal of providing security for the bourgeois social order for
the purposes of capital accumulation [15].
Pacification in Rio, therefore, can be seen as a politi-
cally crafted, military response to the social insecurity felt
by Rio’s upper middle- and elite classes, not to rising crim-
inal insecurity. The author argues that while pacification
does provide some small social benefits to Rio’s favela
constituencies, moreover, it is a core political approach of
a neoliberal government that selectively and aggressively
uses military occupation and takeover to secure vulnerable
regions of social space for the primary reason of increasing
capital accumulation [18].
6. The Policing Landscape: Drugs, Gangs, Corruption
& Violence
The military procedure of pacification follows basic steps.
First, Special Forces invade a targeted favela en masse.
Police Pacifying Units (UPPs), then set up military posts
inside the favela to control the newly secured territory. It
is a difficult task. They have to hold territory where drug
culture is not eradicated but merely concealed, and where
traffickers shift their ground rather than lose it. They may
drive visibly armed criminals out of pacified areas, but in
doing so displace them to areas that are not pacified. After
a time, trafficking also tends to reestablish itself as it adapts
to operating inside pacified territory, a situation that often
relies on police collusion.
The police are an easy target for corruption. The com-
plex system in which drug-related and other criminal activities
feed on police corruption and criminal complicity now per-
meates Brazil’s political arena—with drug money used to
finance politicians and subvert the criminal justice system in
the municipal and state legislatures at the highest levels [
The way in which the drug trade is structured, and re-
sponded to as part of the international ‘war on drugs’, has
exacerbated urban violence. Dr. da Silva points out that
while the Global North fights drug consumption through
legislation in its own nations, countries such as Brazil are
tasked with the real war of militarized combat aimed at erad-
icating drug culture (production, distribution channels and
local cartels) [
]. This is indeed the case in Rio de Janeiro.
Clashes between security forces and drug traffickers in the
favelas have been likened to the military operations being
carried out in places like Afghanistan [
]. As Marcelo
Burgos points out, Rio continues to tackle the problem of
drug trafficking in favelas using the war metaphor, through
aggressive military confrontation that results in civilian ca-
sualties and mistrust of the government, and their ability
to manage or reduce violent crime [
]. These operations
signal a legitimization of the forceful containment of vio-
lence, potentially impede democracy [
], and tends to
resign residents to the inevitability of being governed by
drug traffickers.
Not only are police engaged in combat with gangs, but
in some instances have replaced them. Since pacifica-
tion, Rio has seen an explosion of militias (security and
ex-security forces who control favela territory in a way sim-
ilar to gangs). In 2004 there were six militias operating
throughout the metropolitan area. In 2014, there were 148
]. Police have also been heavily criticized for violence,
torture, unlawful killings and cover-ups [
], and several
UPP commanders have been removed due to their involve-
ment in corruption scandals [24].
Many current and former police officers, especially those
in militias, have been linked not only to extortion, but to
extra-judicial killings. 16% of homicides registered since
pacification began took place at the hands of on-duty police
officers. Of the 1,275 reported killings by these officers
between 2010 and 2013, 99.5% victims were men, 79%
were black, and 75% were between the ages of 15 and 29
[25]. These killings are rarely investigated.
Police in Rio are the most mistrusted and corrupt in the
country. 7.2% of the 8,500+ people surveyed throughout the
metropolitan area claim they have been extorted by police
officials. This figure constitutes 30% of all extortion victims
nationally [
]. Dismally low police wages also makes drug
trafficking an attractive prospect. In December 2012 alone,
some 59 Rio military police were arrested for running an
alleged drug ring [27].
Police morale is generally low. The UPP program, in
particular, suffers from a varying quality of officers, many
of who are being deployed to UPPs without wanting to go.
Of 359 police officers interviewed from the first nine UPPs
deployed in Rio, 70% said they would prefer placements
in other policing units, and 63% considered their training
inadequate, especially in regards to using non-lethal arms
and concerning the reduction of domestic violence (one of
their key mediation duties). In addition, high proportions
of officers believed the UPPs’ principal objectives were en-
suring public safety for the World Cup and Olympic Games
and reassuring the middle class. Further, 65% saw it as a
way of guaranteeing support during electoral campaigning.
More than half of the police interviewed noted negative pub-
lic perceptions, and only a handful regularly participated in
community meetings [28].
From the onset, the UPP campaign has been rapidly
implemented. Now with almost 10,000 officers, some police
claim it has grown too quickly. Yet, the overall numbers
of Rio’s security forces are set to expand again, with the
expectation that at least 60,000 personnel will be employed
to ensure security during the Olympic Games [29].
R$ 2.5 (US$ 0.6) billion has been dedicated to provid-
ing security for the three weeks of the Olympics—half of
the state’s total annual security budget. This excludes the
cost of the UPP—which runs at more than a half billion
reals annually (US$ 130 million), as it currently functions
]. Even if the UPP was able to expand dramatically (an
unrealistic scenario given the current economic downturn),
the program will only ever be able to provide security for a
fraction of Metropolitan Rio’s 750+ favelas, suggesting—as
is characteristic of neoliberal governance—that Rio’s pub-
lic security policy has been produced by and for specific
private interests.
7. Mega-events—A Case of Accumulation by
David Harvey hypothesizes that capital(ism) is constantly
reconfiguring its routes of circulation and accumulation in
order to expand power through ways that are historically
and geographically contingent on an amalgamation of i)
the devaluation of existing assets (through disinvestment,
abandonment, annihilation, etcetera); ii) the reinvestment
of surplus capital in promoting economic growth (expanded
reproduction); and iii) rent extraction (leveraging of com-
modified assets such as labor, land, public utilities, pension
funds, et cetera) [30].
The releasing, seizing, appropriation, and leveraging of
sets of assets at very little to no cost, at the expense of
democratic rights, is basically what Harvey refers to as ac-
cumulation by dispossession [31]. These processes tend to
happen in areas of uneven geographical development and
lived space, and are dependent on a union between the
State and the predatory facets of finance capital—what Har-
vey refers to as ‘vulture capitalism’ [
]. In Rio, they look very
much like Naomi Klein’s idea of ‘disaster capitalism’ [32].
Mega-events have been thoroughly critiqued for profiting
from this form of exploitation. The forced implementation of
neoliberalism [
], gentrification through large-scale rede-
velopment projects [
], the proliferation of growth machine
politics [35], the acquisition of symbolic capital through city
branding politics [
], and the sidestepping of existing plan-
ning regulations—known as ‘exceptionality urbanism’—are
all aspects of accumulation by dispossession, and all major
legacies of mega-events [30].
Designed to redefine the city through branding, with
a view to attracting future capital, Rio’s mega-events pro-
vide massive opportunity for infrastructure investment and
real estate speculation by circumnavigating normal politi-
cal processes to manufacture a ‘city of exception’ [
] for
powerful amalgamations of public/private interest groups.
These coalitions of corporations and politicians, along with
representatives of international capital, drive public policy
decisions without public accountability [38].
8. Exceptionality Urbanism: Consolidating Power &
Reconfiguring Routes of Capital
Mega-events intensify Rio’s already pointed neoliberal eco-
nomic policies. These policies use ‘exceptionality urbanism’
to justify land grabs and militarize public space. In order to
comprehend how rapid urbanization is enabled, it is nec-
essary to understand how the government legislates to
guarantee the delivery of territory into the hands of prop-
erty developers, in the name of mega-event viability, at little
private risk.
One of the first and most important events in this multi-
tiered legislative process came about in 2007 with the sign-
ing into law of the Document of Governmental Guarantees
[39]—a private adhesion contract with the F
eration Inter-
nationale de Football Association (FIFA), which committed
Brazil to unconditionally accept all of the organization’s de-
mands without any allowance for negotiation of specific
terms. In other words, the federal government agreed to
enter into legal and financial servitude of FIFA, their corpo-
rate alliances, investors, transactions and investments, in
blatant non-compliance with Brazil’s Federal Constitution
]. This law paved the way for the 2009 adoption of the
Olympic Act and the 2012 General Law of the World Cup.
The Olympic Act [
] established the underpinnings of
an institutional system that enables the breaching of existing
law to bestow privileges such as tax exemptions, freedom
from compliance to regulations such as building codes, or
adherence to the legal principle of the “social use value”
of property [42] in order to satisfy construction companies,
real estate speculators, the tourism sector, the International
Olympic Committee (IOC), and their sponsors. Legislation
also authorizes the “use of [public] resources to cover the
eventual operational deficits of the Organizing Committee
of the 2016 Rio Games”.
Equally critical to the judicial engineering of mega-
events is Law 12.462/2011, which attacks the existing Law
for Public Tenders and allows large sums of public funds to
be transferred to private enterprise. The General Law of the
World Cup is also based on commercial commitments and
fiscal exemptions that benefit very specific private interest
groups while increasing the debt burden for municipalities
around mega-event related activities [
]. Many of these
laws approve operations that do not encompass public con-
cerns or social priorities. Municipal Decree 30.379/2009
goes as far as to ensure that properties belonging to the
municipal government are available for use if they are es-
sential for the 2016 Rio Games, even if they are occupied
by third parties.
A slew of other legal decrees have been introduced to
round out this exceptionality landscape. Whole new forms
of criminal activities aimed at quashing protestors have
been detailed under a new legal framework. They include
defining associating with three or more people as forming
an ‘armed criminal gang’; the criminalization of protesting
in proximity to a cultural venue; and the criminalization of
the possession of materials such as bleach, flags, and gas
masks [
]. The legislation is supported through expanded
civilian monitoring and surveillance laws aimed at locat-
ing and identifying protestors. They are all attached to
hefty prison sentences. The convening of special tribunals
prosecute those not only involved in protesting, but those
suspected of potentially committing a crime because of
previous involvement with protests [45].
The government has created and partnered with a range
of special security sectors to safeguard mega-event inter-
ests. These not only include the UPP, Special Ops troops,
and the Armed Forces, but the Special Secretary for Major
Events Security [
], and the Business Forum of Defense
and Security (FEDS), a sector of the Industry Federation
of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FIRJAN)—essentially Rio’s
Chamber of Commerce. That FIRJAN even has a Busi-
ness Defense and Security Forum that consults with Rio’s
Secretary for Public Security shows how deep the ties run
between Rio’s business sector and public sector interests.
FEDS has close involvement with the Brazilian Associa-
tion of Defense and Security Industries Materials, the Na-
tional Union of Ordnance and Naval committees, and the
Aerospace and Ground Force Forum. In 2015, FEDS called
on the Secretary of Public Security to craft a coalition of
private sector companies and government institutions (in-
cluding the Court of Justice), to determine public security
policy. This demonstrates how oligopolistic conglomerates
in the defense and security sectors extend their influence in
issues relating to these matters [
]. In 2011, this handful
of private companies dominating Brazil’s defense sector
generated revenues of US$2.7 billion [48].
These laws and affiliations between the private and pub-
lic sector represent only a small rhizome of the complex
array of local, state, and federal provisional measures, legal
decrees, resolutions, ordinances, administrative acts and
opaque business and political transactions that help craft
Rio as a ‘city of exception’ at the expense of wider public
The result is higher land values, rent increases and
gentrification, the demolition of poor neighborhoods, forced
evictions, and the displacement of residents [
]. These
laws circumvent planning procedures and quash assembly
and associational rights. They expend massive amounts
of public funds on militarization; bankroll facilities of limited
utility at enormous public cost; and orchestrate the sale or
leasing of public services, utilities, and facilities to private
interest groups. They consolidate a culture of accumulation
by dispossession that is, in large part, facilitated by Rio’s
military police, and in particular, the UPP program [6].
9. Crafting Mega-Events: Legacy Projects and the
Business Management of the City
Rio’s various military police divisions, including the UPP,
are connected to a broad set of economic goals laid out by
the city as a set of urbanization strategies [ 50] that James
Freeman defines as the business of building, preparing and
marketing Rio as a mega-event city: the valorization of real
estate, and securing the favelas as commodities and mar-
kets for commodities [
]. In other words, pacification is a
structure through which public security policy paves the way
for economic expansion through rapid urbanization.
The marketing of mega-events is about selling spectacle
and image [
] in order to build a picture of Rio that will
supposedly lead to years of return on the investment. It
is big business, particularly for organizing bodies such as
FIFA and the IOC, which profit from broadcasting rights,
corporate sponsorship, product licensing, and ticket sales.
FIFA and the IOC, along with their corporate partner-
ships (Dow, Coca Cola, Visa, McDonalds, General Electric,
Cisco, Embratel, et cetera [
]) co-brand with the mega-
events to sell a very specific, packaged impression of Rio.
This image is promoted as the exotic backdrop to the sports
drama that unfolds on screen to billions of viewers to gener-
ate tremendous profit. FIFA received approximately US$ 4
billion in broadcasting fees for the World Cup, the Olympics
is expected to yield about the same [45]. In addition, Rio’s
local 2016 Olympic Organizing Committee predicts to re-
ceive around US$ 0.5 billion in revenue from its sales of
‘official merchandise’ [52].
Protecting this painstakingly constructed illusion of the
city—as advertised—is of critical importance. Disruption,
and potential disruption of this image (violence, poverty,
protests, et cetera) must be suppressed at all costs. Even
the landscape surrounding the stadiums is of great sig-
nificance. Olympic promotional material, for example,
never portrays Rio’s Maracan
a stadium with the (pacified)
Mangueira favela in the background; and residents of its
neighbor—Favela do Metr
o—have suffered under a slew
of illegal housing demolitions[53] and forced relocations in
order to produce a more desirable view [
]. Security perime-
ters are also established to lock down areas surrounding
mega-event venues.
Several multinational giants of the surveillance and
telecommunications sectors have profited from lucrative
contracts to provide security equipment and technology
to law enforcement divisions for mega-events. During the
World Cup, teams of Armed Forces and Special Ops troops
took control of the neighborhood surrounding Maracan
stadium. Missiles were placed on the roofs of condominium
buildings and the terraces of private residences. Rio’s new
Command and Control Operations Center—in partnership
with IBM—coordinated over 30 agencies in these opera-
tions, including the deployment of security forces. 157,000
troops were deployed throughout the country during the
event to deter protestors at a cost of almost US$ 1 billion.
Though it is difficult to make an absolute determination,
Brazil’s total Public Works spending surrounding the World
Cup and Olympics may cost as much as US$ 1 trillion [45].
An array of money-spinning investment opportunities
comes with preparing for mega-events. Rio’s Olympic bid
budgeted R$ 29 billion (US$ 7.25 billion) for revitalization of
the city [
], though the figure could easily reach three times
that amount [
]. The extent of redevelopment and the
profits it generates for a handful of private interest groups
is enormous. Leading up to the Cup, the rights to run and
profit from five of the country’s airports—including Rio’s
ao International Airport—were handed over to four pri-
vate consortia for a period of 20–25 years [ 55]. The group
that secured the rights to run Gale
ao is led by Odebrecht—
Brazil’s (and Latin America’s) largest closely held construc-
tion and engineering firm.
Odebrecht also won four World Cup stadium contracts,
including the R$ 1 billion renovation of Rio’s Maracan
stadium, financed with R$ 1.5 billion (US$ 447 million) of
taxpayer money in the form of subsidized loans from Brazil’s
state development bank. Odebrecht is also part of the con-
sortium that manages Maracan
a; and one of its subsidiaries,
Mectron, gained one of the hefty defense contracts to up-
grade the military equipment used to secure its perimeter
during events [45].
Though the company is currently under investigation for
fraud in relation to overpricing its stadium work [
], Ode-
brecht continues to generate some of the largest profits
from the orgy of mega-event construction currently taking
place in Rio. It is part of a consortium that is profiting from
the construction of the new R$5 billion Metro extension and
the contentious Bus Rapid Transit lines (BRT)—currently
running at 46% over budget [
]. Though the BRT has
been described as an example of ‘sustainable transport’,
professor of urbanism Chris Gaffney claims the transit lines
are designed to boost real estate speculation around the
Olympic transit route while further fragmenting and isolating
the poor [
]. These Olympic Legacy projects have resulted
in the forced displacement of thousands of low-income res-
idents, and driven profits through the roof for some of the
city’s largest developers.
The BRT goes right to the door of real estate develop-
ment giant, Carvalho Hosken. The company has seen a
“billion dollar jump” in the value of its real estate holdings
in and around the Olympic site at Barra da Tijuca, thanks
to Mayor Eduardo Paes, who has invested billions in public
funds to build the infrastructure to enable the US$ 1 billion
Ilha Pura (Pure Island) Olympic luxury condo development,
in which Carvalho and Odebrecht share equal partnership
]. The social cost has been tremendous and includes vio-
lent removal of almost the entire Vila Autodromo favela [
Both Odebrect and Carvalho Hosken were major political
donors to the Mayor’s reelection campaign [60].
Another project that very clearly depicts the connections
between neoliberal construction schemes and accumula-
tion by dispossession is the Porto Maravilha project—Rio’s
massive PPP (public private partnership) port revitalization
venture. The plan has razed five million square meters of
devalued housing and industrial facilities to build ten new
50-storey office buildings, residential towers, hotels, an art
museum, the Olympic media facilities, a bus terminal, and a
new dock for cruise ships, all serviced by a light rail system
which will run exclusively around a small, internal circuit.
The area, most of which was public land, has been
leased to the Porto Novo consortium for a fifteen-year term.
Porto Novo is made up of three of Brazil’s largest construc-
tion/engineering firms—Odebrecht, Carioca Engenharia
and OAS—which will do the demolition, build the new infras-
tructure, and manage Porto Maravilha once it is completed.
Federal FGTS pension funds, controlled by Brazil’s federal
public bank, are providing the R$ 8 billion of infrastructure
funding for the PPP, even though the pension funds are
supposed to be used to develop social housing [
]. The
city has evicted most of the 30,000 poorer residents from
the port area and the Provid
encia favela located in the hills
directly above it to accommodate the project. Authorization
for Porto Maravilha passed without public approval within
weeks of Rio winning the Olympic bid.
These projects are all examples of how rapid urbaniza-
tion, in service of mega-events and their ‘legacy’ projects,
remove and control populations under what can be only
considered a ‘state of exception’ [
]. In contrast to the
city’s claim that the “Legacy Games” will “transform old
problems into opportunities” [63], it seems the main legacy
of the Olympics may be displacement.
Legacy projects comprise the largest share of the city’s
Olympic budget, and are foundational to the city’s economic
redevelopment objective of urban revitalization through sus-
tainable development. This objective, according to the mu-
nicipality, can be effectively met through good governance
and PPPs that harness citizen participation [
]. Yet Rio’s
stated goal of becoming a sustainable city through commu-
nity policing, financing urban revitalization, and economic
growth [50] faces grave challenges.
It is estimated that up to 110,000 removals will have
occurred throughout the city by the time the Olympics be-
gin. In addition to the removals, the city has a low-income
housing deficit of 300,000 homes [
]. Housing reloca-
tion and compensation is inadequate at best. Guilherme
oes, national coordinator for the Homeless Workers’
Movement, claims if gentrification is taken into account,
there are 800,000 families now without a home within Rio’s
metropolitan area thanks to the legacy of mega-events [
Those that remain in favelas still live with no access to
sewage—resulting in waste from more than 50 rivers and
streams of raw sewerage, along with tons of garbage, being
emptied directly into an already chronically polluted Guan-
abarra Bay every day [
]. Public security also presents an
escalating problem, with both violent and non-violent crime
on the rise [68].
With the country heading into negative economic
growth—meaning more unemployment, higher utilities, ser-
vices and transportation costs, increased taxes, and rising
inflation [69]—this situation is set to worsen. Furthermore,
though political rhetoric touts Rio as an inclusive city [
there are no participatory mechanisms built into the frame-
work of public policy decision-making. This means there are
few alternatives to the myriad of ‘segregation’ policies being
put in place around the Olympics [
]: housing evictions
and substandard relocations to the periphery, the severing
of dozens of bus lines and police blitzes that deter people
living in the poorer North Zone from traveling to the affluent
South Zone on weekends; the walls being built around the
favelas to contain them; the police violence and intimidation
that accompanies illegal evictions, and so on.
Inclusivity of the favelas under the UPP is typically
achieved through the issuing and military enforcement of State
imposed choque de ordems (shock orders) that crack down on
informality by evicting residents or forcing them to regularize
(comply with official registration and licensing requirements)
real estate holdings, businesses, utilities, and services [
In this way, the UPP, according to official literature, binds
community policing to economic development [73].
Global justice researcher, Rafael Dias, asserts that
these policies are part of a “business management” model
of the city, “designed and executed by the government with-
out any participation” to accommodate “specific interests,
which cannot be confused with the interests of society as a
whole or human rights in general” [74].
10. The Role & Function of the UPP Social Program
The Municipal Institute of Urbanism (Instituto Municipal
de Urbanismo Pereira Passos or IPP) oversees the social
administration of the UPP under a division known as the
Rio+Social or UPP Social [
]. As described in Rio’s munic-
ipal development plan, its function is to coordinate various
municipal agencies to help achieve social and economic
development goals [
]. Generally, this process occurs at
the nexus of pacification, urbanization and mega-events.
The IPP maps municipal data, manages information,
and advises on municipal public policy [
]. Specifically, it
identifies municipal initiatives for economic investment and
advises on the needs of, and where best to locate social
assets. It also coordinates corporate-sponsored ‘cultural’
events (Figure 2).
Development specialist, Robert Muggah, has criticized
the UPP Social program for not putting emphasis on ser-
vice delivery, and for its lack of capacity to respond to local
demands [
]. The program is far from ineffective, however.
IPP Director, Eduarda La Rocque, admits that the UPP
Social services “the priorities. . . of the city of Rio de Janeiro
as a whole. . . [not] what the favela wants” [79].
The IPP is the department that provides the city with the
information necessary to plan and carry out its regulariza-
tion activities in the favelas. Regularization is accompanied
with promises that registered entrepreneurs and vendors
can access the formal market through being eligible to ap-
ply for microcredit and job training provided by PPPs. To
date, however, out of the 1.5 million people the government
claims to have benefited from pacification [
], only 2,027
micro-entrepreneurs have been formalized, and only 5,000
have received access to micro-credit [80].
Shock orders also require home and business own-
ers to formally obtain land titles for their homes or busi-
nesses (a five-year heavily bureaucratized process), and/or
licenses for commercial activities (a three day online ap-
proval process)—or face being shut down. Land regular-
ization comes with the cost-of-living increase that property
tax brings. In addition, landowners and tenants alike must
manage sudden and sharp spikes in the cost of utilities
and services that regularization brings. These are many
times higher than what is affordable for most favela resi-
dents. Electricity prices alone have jumped 1400% in some
favelas (from US$ 20 a month to US$ 299) [
]. In this eco-
nomic climate, even if a favela resident is fortunate enough
to have full-time employment (earning minimum wage of
around US$ 225 per month), they will likely be priced out of
their homes.
Though land regularization and urban upgrading are
important first steps for integrating favelas into the formal
city, it is important to critique if and how regularization func-
tions to impact the informal sector. Regularization and slum
upgrading are, in themselves, meager rights to strive for.
As urban planner Mark Purcell puts it, “not just housing
but decent and affordable housing, not just jobs but good
jobs, not just transportation but efficient and convenient
transportation” [
] are necessary to ensure what Lefebvre
conceived of as ‘the right to the city’ [82]. Regularization in
Rio, rather than bringing stability, is bringing financial strain
to an already fragile economic environment.
Another function of the IPP is to identify ‘geo-risk’
housing—those structures vulnerable to flood, landslide,
or collapse. The Mayor’s Morar Carioca slum upgrade pro-
gram uses ‘geo-risk’ as a tactic to validate evictions through
“the elimination of risk areas [and the] resettlement of resi-
dents”. Even though the program charter guarantees the
right of civil “participation. . . in all stages”, residents are not
consulted in this process [83].
Rio’s evictions in relation to mega-events have directly
affected almost 70,000 individuals [
] and put up to 40,000
more at risk [
]. The process is being accelerated through
a policy of lightning evictions introduced in 2015 to secure
favela property for economic development activities for the
Olympics. The evictions are typically enforced by police who
are deployed in legally dubious maneuvers with operational
teams that cut electricity, remove residents, and bulldoze
neighborhoods, sometimes with little to no warning [
Dispossessed residents and their neighbors are merely left
with abandoned piles of rubble that exasperate threats to
health and safety (Figure 3) [
]. Many are unable to reset-
tle in the same neighborhood because of the increase in
the cost of living brought about through pacification.
Figure 2. Functions of the Instituto Pereira Passos [77].
Figure 3.
Partially demolished housing, Manguinhos favela,
Together, pacification and urbanization have led to a
substantial rise in the real estate and rental markets in and
around favelas. The perceived reduction in crime associ-
ated with the presence of the UPP also drives up the price
of real estate both inside the favelas, and in the surrounding
asfalto neighborhoods. This real estate spike has led to an
overall increase of approximately 15% across the formal
city as a whole between 2008–2011 [
]. In favelas, the
jump has been as high as 300% [88].
Rafael Gon
alves claims the ultimate goal of the UPP,
may above all, be to provide security for real estate specula-
tion [
]. The rhetoric of pacification—of fighting crime,
restoring peace, and bringing prosperity—socially engi-
neered through mainstream media, Brazil’s public institu-
tions, and global organizations such as the World Bank [
aims to create a perception of Rio as a safe and thriving
city, attractive to both investors and tourists alike.
11. Assessments and Perceptions of Pacification
A broad body of various literature, studies, media, data, and
information produced and disseminated through various
means by scholars, mainstream and independent media,
NGOs, government, and international organizations, re-
flects the overwhelming challenge of accurately evaluating
the many facets of an ever-evolving pacification campaign
and the urbanization activities related to it.
At first, the results of the UPP occupations seemed
positive. Ignacio Cano’s 2012 report, Os Donos do Morro,
quantified the program’s impressive impact on registered
crime. Cano showed a dramatic drop in homicide rates
inside the favelas, and pointed to this facet of the cam-
paign as an unprecedented success [
]. This reduction
in homicides bolstered the overwhelming support already
bestowed on the program by the city’s ruling elite, middle
classes, and mainstream press.
Surveys conducted in select pacified favelas through
2012 also suggested that residents perceived a general
improvement in security, but that they also feared the gov-
ernment would abandon the favelas after the Olympics and
that traffickers would return. In addition, the surveys identi-
fied a lack of community facilities and services in the areas
of health, education, and leisure, as well as problems asso-
ciated with the relationship between community members
and police, and in levels of crime other than homicide [28].
Gradually, the praise the UPP had received during its
first few years began to wane. The mediascape started
to expose cracks in the UPP as the 2014 World Cup drew
close, and new assessments of data began pointing to ris-
ing crime (up by 116% in Niteroi in 2013) [
]; increases
in conflict [
]; and a slew of human rights violations [
Scholars began cautioning against any euphoric adoration
of the UPP policy [
]. Esther Werling’s HASOW report [
determined that the UPP did not represent a paradigm shift
in public security policy at all, but was merely a continuation
of vertically structured intervention and historical segre-
gation. Robson Rodrigues concluded that the policy was
embedded with structural inequalities and instituted without
dialogue or effective participation [
], and the citizen-led
movement, Rio Com Vamos, declared a lack of institutional
reform both in the police and the criminal justice system.
This, Rio Com Vamos charges, contributes to a culture
of violence and corruption that dominates Rio’s political
landscape and affects how it plays out in the favelas [97].
Marcelo Baumann Burgos’ 2012 case report, O Efeito
UPP na Percep
ao dos Moradores das Favelas, studied
favelas in close proximity to those presented in this paper.
His report concluded that if the State’s perpetual culture of
legitimized violence could be overcome and trust between
police and residents restored, the UPP may open up a
social space where the citizenship rights of the informal
sector could be affirmed. He suggested that if this percep-
tion could be turned into organized opinion, a fracture may
occur in the current institutional model (based on the violent
social control of the urban poor), and transition to a model
which operates under the language of rights [20].
However, with the UPP losing funding with the phasing
out of Pronasci (the federal program which supplied its multi-
year seed funds), and the collapse of the campaign’s largest
corporate contributor, the EBX Group in 2012 (now bankrupt
and under federal investigation), it is doubtful the UPP can
continue to occupy the favelas after the Olympics in the way
as it does now (if at all). Though the city remains silent on
the issue, it is evident that the UPP is already having trouble
holding onto much of the ground it has gained.
12. Scope, Delineation & Methods: An Introduction to
the Case Reports
Three case studies implemented in and bound by three dif-
ferent favelas were selected for this report. Each explores
police occupation, social interventions, and economic devel-
opment activities and their effects on favela residents and
the territories in close proximity to them.
The case studies have been chosen because of the
variance they offer: each has been pacified for a different
length of time; each has a different socio-economic level;
each is varied in population size; each deals with different
levels of violence; and each is situated in a different geo-
graphical area. All were controlled by drug trafficking gangs
prior to pacification.
eu Mangueira, two small higher-income
earning favelas located in the affluent South Zone neigh-
borhood of Leme (pacified in 2008). Previously under
control of the Terceiro Comando (TC) drug trafficking gang;
ii) Borel/Formiga, a middle-income North Zone cluster of
favelas located in the middle-class neighborhood of Ti-
juca (pacified in in 2010). Previously under contested
control at different times by both the Comando Ver-
melho (CV) and the Amigos dos Amigos (ADA) drug
trafficking gangs;
Manguinhos, a large, poor North Zone cluster of ten to fifteen
favela neighborhoods (pacified in 2012). Previously under
control of the Comando Vermelho (CV) drug trafficking gang.
Because this study focuses on only three of the 38 favela
communities under UPP control, it is limited in its scope
and ability to generalize. In addition, though it tries to take
into account a large number of shifting dimensions, the
conditions inside favelas are subject to an ever-evolving
set of precarious and fragile social variables. This renders
it impossible to measure the overall impact of pacification
in definitive terms. Its aim is, therefore, to more intimately
convey how the UPP operates, how it enables urbanization
activities, and how residents are being affected within these
three pacification scenarios.
Due to incongruities and unreliability of available data
due to official underreporting, and the inability to acquire
accurate quantitative information inside favelas, this case-
study impact report used a mixed methodology approach
based on multi-year qualitative field research that was cross-
analyzed against a range of empirical data. The qualitative
research was conducted while the author was working in
land use restoration projects in favelas with favela residents
from 2010 through 2015 [
]. The information is derived
from direct observations, conversations with favela resi-
dents, meetings with citizens’ committees and Residents’
Associations, interactions with drug traffickers, UPP officers,
PAC workers, and municipal stakeholders, including the
Department for the Environment.
Empirical research, also conducted between 2010 and
2015, includes an examination of articles of law, statistical
data [99], municipal and state development plans, architec-
tural design documents, human rights reports, and main-
stream and independent media reportage. Participation in
conferences and reviews of literature produced by other
researchers engaged in analyses of Rio’s mega-events
and urbanization activities also provide a foundation and
counter-balance for the case reports.
13. Case Report: Babil
eu Mangueira
The cluster of favelas that include Babil
onia and Chap
Mangueira are nestled into the mountainsides of the wealthy
neighborhood of Leme, located at the end of Copacabana
beach, the most popular tourist destination in Rio. This
privileged location provides favela residents easy access to
the largest service and construction industries’ job market
in the city. Many of the women from these favelas work as
maids and nannies for the wealthy residents of Rio’s affluent
South Zone, while the men provide the labor as the con-
struction workers and bricklayers who build the high-rises
that dominate the dramatic beachfront skyline.
Over the decades, the residents of Babil
onia and
eu have not established prominent labor or union as-
sociations. Instead, their political agency has tended to
be rooted in the favelas themselves. These favelas have
always been the proving grounds for State interventions, in-
cluding the UPP, because of their small scale, their relatively
low levels of conflict, and their spatial and social proximity
to those who draft the public policies implemented in them.
onia has the best socio-economic indicators among
the three case studies analyzed in this report, with a high
Social Development Index [
] and well developed infras-
tructure when compared to other favelas in Rio. There is
almost complete access to water, sewage and garbage col-
lection in these two communities, and approximately 75%
of residents are homeowners. Despite such high social
development indicators, illiteracy remains a problem, par-
ticularly in Babil
onia, where 15.9% of the population older
than fifteen is illiterate [100].
This area has had one of the most harmonious rela-
tionships between a trafficking-dominated favela and its
surrounding neighborhood. Up until the mid-2000s, drug-
related conflicts were rare, baile funks (dance parties) were
attended by middle class youth, and there had been little
adverse effect on the formal real estate market in Leme.
By 2005 however, the favelas had suffered a series of at-
tempted takeovers by enemy drug factions, and relations
between the formal and informal communities began to
strain under the stress of frequent gunfire.
In May 2009, Special Ops Military Police moved in to
occupy the two hills of Chap
eu and Babil
onia, making ar-
rests and seizing drugs and arms. By June, the UPP had
established their headquarters in the upper reaches of Ba-
onia, and 107 UPP officers were installed to oversee
3,740 residents [
]—a ratio of one police officer per 37
people. Though Rio’s Mayor Eduardo Paes and State Gov-
ernor S
ergio Cabral both came to Babil
onia to formally
inaugurate the historic event [
], residents were not in-
formed of the community ceremony. This demonstrates, in
a most basic way, how favela residents are left out of even
the smallest of public gestures.
The relative success of Babil
onia’s pacification is often
emphasized as part the sustainable legacy of the city’s
mega-events. Many sustainability initiatives were imple-
mented in Babil
onia in preparation for the United Nations
Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit. Under Rio’s
Morar Carioca Verde program, designs were drawn up for
new housing, a commercial center, and a cultural center,
along with weatherizing interventions in private homes, plans
for household waste management and recycling systems,
and water and energy efficiency improvements (LED lamps,
solar water heaters, rainwater collection systems). Refor-
estation of the surrounding area was also planned so that
tourists could access trails with locals serving as guides.
By the end of 2013, sixteen ‘green’ houses had been
built, an LED pathway installed, and almost 200,000
seedlings planted [
]. 60 homes were also demolished
]—without consulting residents. The cost of the project
in total was R$ 43 million (US$ 23.5 million) [104].
Another initiative, the corporate-funded Sustainable City
project, also launched around the same time to coincide
with the UN Rio+20 mega-event. The project included a
housing improvement program that trained 110 participants
as masons, electricians, plumbers, and locksmiths; fifteen
volunteers were given classes in domestic-scale agroe-
cology; and residents were offered a community tourism
program that resulted in dozens of tourism operators being
‘regularized’—sanctioned by the government.
One of the great social promises of the UPP was that it
would bring jobs opportunities for residents, however very
limited forms of micro-tourism may be one of the only ways
in which this promise has actually been delivered. There are
a few local tourist guides in the more accessible South Zone
favelas, and in Babil
onia and Chap
eu Mangueira, the com-
munity has a registered tour guide cooperative designed to
take tourists on the nature trail up through the forested hill-
side. Some residents complain tourists do not bring much
money into the community while others see it as a small
opportunity. A few small-scale private initiatives also offer
cheap accommodations to foreign backpackers wanting to
stay in favelas, though most are run by foreigners, and only
one by local residents. The favela is brazenly advertised in
the UPP Social’s promotional video, which depicts a group
of gringo tourists happily being served by a local proprietor
as the only patrons in the restaurant [
]. Babil
onia may
have become the UPP’s poster child for local business suc-
cess delivered through pacification, but residents and critics
alike claim it is little more than urban propaganda [106].
onia provides the city’s most sanitized location for
dignitaries to be taken to see a tranquil image of Rio’s
pacified favelas. Former New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg was ushered through the favela during the UN
Rio+20 Summit to see the success of pacification and of
the Morar Carioca Verde program. In the forty minutes he
was there, he did not interact with a single resident.
According to the IPP, about 4,000 residents overall have
benefited from infrastructure and urbanization programs in
the Babil
onia and Chap
eu under the UPP. However, many
challenges still persist. Education remains a problem. Mu-
nicipal school enrolment numbers decreased by 15.2% be-
tween 2007 and 2010 [
]. Housing also presents barriers
to stability. Some residents have waited years for regular-
ization approvals, while others have been forcibly evicted,
received low financial compensation for relocation, or been
forced to move to the periphery (a three hour commute back
to the city) [108].
Next to the favelas, in the asfalto neighborhood of
Leme, residents whose apartments faced Babil
Mangueira suffered from the negative effect the communi-
ties had on their property values prior to the UPP occupa-
tion. Many also felt at risk of being injured or killed by stray
bullets, with some apartment owners installing bullet-proof
windows as a protection measure [
]. Following pacifica-
tion, however, Leme saw a real estate boom with property
increases of just under 35% in 2011 alone [
]. Inside the
favela, Babil
onia’s real estate prices more than quadrupled
by 2012 [111].
Despite the urban upgrades these favelas have received,
residents in general remain conflicted about the pacifica-
tion, not only because of gentrification, but because of the
way in which citizen involvement in decision-making pro-
cesses is neglected, and because the implementation of
most social programs is isolated to coincide with major inter-
national events [
]. Other complaints charge that access to
community facilities, such as sports complexes (previously
open for use 24/7) are now micro-managed by the UPP
and require a lengthy bureaucratic approval process and
advanced scheduling before entry to them can be gained.
Community entertainment is either subject to restrictions
such as curfew, or is banned altogether, as is the case with
baile funks, which have been made illegal under UPP policy.
Public security remains somewhat volatile, however the
level of conflict is low compared to the other case studies
discussed in this paper. Though there has been a great
investment in policing [112], exchanges of gunfire between
rival gangs sparodically continue [
]. The UPP has been
effective, however, in limiting the visible use of firearms by
teenagers, and if it can be sustained, this change alone will
have a significant social impact on the younger generation
growing up in this environment [114].
onia’s residents are no strangers to public/private
investment experiments with the State, and no doubt many
have benefited by these programs. In many respects, be-
cause they are small favelas with relatively low levels of
conflict, the UPP interventions in Babil
onia and Chap
have, to date, been more effective than in the other case
studies discussed below.
14. Case Report: Borel/Formiga
The Tijuca favelas are a cluster of small favela commu-
nities located in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. They
occupy the social middle ground somewhere between the
economic privilege of Babil
onia and the impoverishment of
Complexo do Borel comprises of three communities—
Borel and Casa Branca, situated on the hillside slopes, and
acara do C
eu, at the top of the hill. Formiga is another
part of the favela cluster, located on a nearby hillside along
a winding road. It is one of the oldest and steepest com-
munities in the area, and has a high level of built density.
Formiga originated as a formal subdivision that was later
declared illegal. Borel also originated as a formal occupa-
tion, with residents being relocated to the hills from the city
center in early favela removals. Other relocations followed
in the 1950s.
Associational life developed historically in this area as
part of the struggle against the city’s removal policies. It
later evolved to advocate for education, health and leisure
facilities. The development and sense of political agency of
these favelas has been deeply entwined with labor move-
ments and unions. This was where the city’s first community
association, the Union of Favela Workers, was formed in
1954. It has since served as an important example for other
neighborhood associations.
Over the years, adding to the conflict that has to do with
forced removal and relocation, residents have had to con-
tend with intense violence erupting between rival gangs for
the control of favela territory. Over a period of twenty years,
the predictability of the conflict between these favelas had
become so commonplace that it developed certain regu-
larities, including the scheduling of armed engagements,
which came to be known as “shootouts at an agreed upon
time” [1].
The ongoing conflict translated into a series of limitations
on residents’ mobility across the city. Territorial disputes
over the bocas (drug selling points) broke apart the com-
munities that had once been perceived as extensions of
one another. These favelas had shared a long history of
unified political mobilization and social life spanning from
family relations to religious ties, from participation in one of
the oldest and most traditional samba schools in the region
(Unidos da Tijuca), to the attendance of baile funks, the
dance parties now banned under the UPP.
The banning of baile funks is complex issue. Funk Cari-
oca (funk music from Rio de Janeiro) originated in the fave-
las in the 1980s, and by the 1990s baile funks had become
popular community events. The UPP takes the position that
baile funks promote drug culture and gang affiliation among
youth. Because the baile funks are often hosted by the
ruling gang, the use of drugs and the presence of traffickers
have been prominent at such events. Social analysts claim,
however, that banning the parties, which extends to the
banning of funk music in general, shuts down an authentic
cultural expression of favela youth [115]. Both sides of the
argument can be legitimatized.
In the case of the Tijuca favelas, the rift between ri-
val baile funk scenes (associated with the rivalry between
gangs), greatly altered the social panorama of the entire
area. By the end of 2009, attending a Friday night baile
funk came with the added risk of gun violence because
both the ADA and the CV gangs were involved in an intense
territorial war for control of the different hillsides [116].
Because of the gang wars, the close ties that had tradi-
tionally linked these favela communities were progressively
cut off from one another. Factions marked favela residents
with gang identities, and prohibited their mobility through
rival territories. Residents were compelled to change their
commuting routes in order to avoid entering ‘enemy’ terri-
tory. These turf disputes spilled over into the formal city to
impact nearby public schools. By the mid-1990s, drug traf-
ficking violence had led to a radical depreciation in property
value for buildings that faced the favelas, with real estate
prices plummeting to the point that they were virtually equal
to that of the favelas [117].
By the time the UPP advanced in these neighborhoods,
residents had already anticipated their pacification with high
expectations. Borel’s UPP occupation was the eighth estab-
lished in the city, and the first in Rio’s North Zone. In June
2010, the UPP entered Borel. By July, Formiga was also
occupied. UPP units, with 500 military police officers in total,
now occupy seven Tijuca favela communities, controlling
an area that is home to approximately 60,000 inhabitants.
The UPP directly oversees about 12,815 residents from
the favelas, with troops operating at a ratio of one officer
to every 33 inhabitants [
]. Due to the built density of the
area, the steep geography, and the social complexity of
relations between residents, traffickers and police, the dif-
ficulties the UPP face to remain in control of territory are
substantial. Moreover, the Social Development Index for
this area remains disturbingly low (0.468) [118].
In 2012 (and again in 2014), the Governor of Rio an-
nounced the favelas of Borel, Formiga and Salgueiro would
receive up to R$ 170 million (in excess of US$ 55.5 million)
in infrastructure funding, allocated by Brazil’s Growth Accel-
eration Program (PAC 2) [
]. The funding is to provide
water supply, sewage treatment, drainage, and garbage col-
lection to new housing units for 500 families. The plans also
include the widening of streets, a inclined plane service, an
art school, a sustainable architecture center, a culture and
sports center, a daycare center, a technical school, plus a
job training center [120].
The program was announced as part of US$3 billion in
federal funding allocated to provide five municipal housing
complexes. Rio’s State Public Works Company (Emop),
named as the project’s contracting agency, says it will em-
ploy about fifteen thousand construction workers, most of
them from favelas, for the projects. However, residents com-
plain that there is no real government interest in creating
employment and that workers must stand in line for hours in
order to register for very low paying jobs [121]. Emop also
claims that the planning process was participatory, though
this semblance of involvement was, at best, ostensibly su-
perficial (for example, children were invited to draw pictures
of what they would like to see in the neighborhood) [
Groundbreaking on the projects was to start by December
2014, yet by November 2015 no contracts had been tendered.
Emop and PAC have both been the focus of a series of
civil protests in connection with the forced evictions that sur-
round Rio’s mega-events [
]. PAC projects are notorious
for overpriced bidding, poor design, and never getting off
the ground. If they do get past the planning stage, they are
plagued by cost overruns [123], shoddy construction [124],
half-finished abandoned work, and corruption. Corruption
in Brazil equals 2.3% of the GDP annually. In 2013 alone, it
is estimated to have cost the country US$ 53 billion [
Between 2007 and 2013, it was calculated that more than
R$ 7 billion (US$ 3.3 billion) of PAC funding was misap-
propriated [
]. In fact, none of the R$ 2.6 billion (US$
880 million) of PAC favela infrastructure funding announced
to break ground in 2013 progressed beyond the planning
stage [127].
In Borel, residents are frustrated with the government
because of the lack of effectively implemented infrastruc-
ture works. Alleys remain unlit, there is still no sewerage
system, and trash litters the streets. The general lack of
water has become so critical that it has sparked protests.
The community continues to demand improvements to the
state water and sewerage company’s (CEDAE) “Water for
All” program. Residents say, however, that there is no such
program and that various parts of Borel simply do not re-
ceive water for prolonged periods, despite residents being
presented with water bills to pay. In addition, the community
claims distribution pipes lie unutilized in ditches, and the
equipment used to pump water needs maintenance in order
to function [128].
Whatever little progress has been made within the Tijuca
favelas, the UPP and the urbanization activities that are gen-
erated alongside it have brought great benefits to the middle
class neighborhoods that surround the favelas. Property
prices in Tijuca are the most symbolic in the city for attracting
real estate investments. After pacification, property in Tijuca
appreciated 161.4%. In 2008, one residential square meter
of Tijuca real estate was worth around R$ 2,000. In 2010, it
sold for R$ 5,500 per square meter, and a year later for R$
6,500. Jo
ao Paulo Matos, president of Cal
ada Construction,
admitted that without the UPP the company would never had
achieved these sales prices [117].
Though Tijuca’s middle class is reaping the benefits of
the pacification, challenges related to infrastructure, the
general restoration of public order, and the corruption within
the UPP, remain acutely visible inside the favelas. Res-
idents remain generally unsupportive of the UPP, but in
Borel the situation is especially fragile [
]. In Decem-
ber 2012, a group of youth mobilized as “Occupy Borel” in
protest against the mandatory curfew imposed by the UPP.
The youth demanded entitlement to come and go freely
from the favela, claiming that now, more than ever before,
they were unable to move through their community. A coor-
dinator of a religious organization in Borel also claims that
many adolescents—those aged between 11 and 18 who
previously worked in the bocas—are now aimlessly roam-
ing the favelas as outcasts constantly harrassed by police
[130]. UPP-imposed arbitrary curfews, police brutality, and
the illegal taxes extorted by UPP officers [131] continue to
spark human rights protests and paint a portrait of state
oppression that has become familiar to Borel residents over
the years.
In Formiga, things are different in regards to public se-
curity. Formiga is a small favela, with 4,312 residents gov-
erned by 111 UPP officers [
]. Because of its size, Formiga
has possibly been easier to pacify. This has been one of
the most successful implementations of the UPP in Tijuca.
The UPP in Formiga has resulted in less conflict than the
other pacifications in the area, and security concerns are
lower in comparison with the other favelas [132].
On the whole, the UPP has improved the Tijuca com-
munities by stopping, if only temporarily, the regularity of
violent conflicts between the police and armed groups, and
between rival gang factions. This has produced an immedi-
ate relief in the daily lives of many residents, many of whom
have been caught in the crossfire, literally, for decades.
However, as the violent character of policing in general
continues, citizens of these areas still need to be vigilant
in regards to their security situation. As well, they must
overcome the obstacles put up by the government and po-
lice that prevent them from receiving adequate attention in
regard to their complaints concerning the lack of adequate
infrastructure improvements, social freedoms, employment
opportunities, and civic participation in decision-making.
This scenario mirrors the overall criticisms leveled against
the UPP by human rights critics of the program [74].
15. Case Report: Manguinhos
Manguinhos is located around an old industrial suburb in
the North Zone of Rio. It has been intricately connected to
the favela removal efforts since the 1940s—as an area to
which people were relocated to after they were removed
from other favelas around the city.
The Manguinhos Complex is a cluster of fifteen favelas
and housing projects inhabited by a population of 35,000
people [2]. This large complex is located in close proximity
to many other densely populated favelas that weave a fabric
of irregular housing across the sprawling North Zone of the
city. The flat landscape of Manguinhos extends as far as
the eye can see, enmeshed with the ruins of derelict and
abandoned factories turned into ‘occupations’ and incorpo-
rated into the favela landscape along with the government
relocation housing projects built in the 1970s.
Manguinhos is today hemmed in by a series of open sew-
ers that once flourished as healthy rivers, and a labyrinth
of highways and super-highways overflowing with traffic.
The favela is located under live, high voltage transmission
lines next to an elevated train track. The area is plagued by
floods, urban waste and toxic pollutants. Numerous envi-
ronmental risks afflict the residents of Manguinhos, and in
particular its youth, who are 500 times more likely to develop
cancer and neurological disorders because of exposure to
high levels of lead that pollute the area [133].
The demographics and poverty indicators of Manguin-
hos are dismal. The Human Development Index is 0.65%—
among the five lowest in Rio. 15% of girls between the
ages of fifteen and seventeen have children. The monthly
per capita income for 2012 was R$ 188 (US$ 60), and
unemployment rates languish at between 30–50% [134].
The demise of industry in Manguinhos from the mid-
1980s on resulted in an intensification of the drug trade.
The favela’s location at the core of a vast region domi-
nated by the CV gang secured Manguinhos as a trafficking
stronghold that held both the police and rival factions at bay.
Thus the boldness of the drug trade’s appropriation of the
public spaces of the favela reached new heights.
Referred to as Rio’s ‘Gaza Strip’, Manguinhos was the site
of the city’s largest crackol
andia (crackland) and one of its
most violent drug trafficking centers. The situation was, for
all practical purposes, a full-blown internal armed conflict and
the ultimate representation of Rios urban warfare issues. The
organized drug trade, open conflict with rival factions and/or
conflict with State military forces, laid bare the humanitarian
impact on civilians trapped by daily violence. From public
executions to police shootouts with Special Forces units, Man-
guinhos was the pinnacle example of gang rule [135].
The drug trade had taken root to the extent that the
bocas had become a long string of shanties, littered with
broken couches and old mattresses, where crack addicts
of all ages prostituted themselves, and where makeshift
lean-tos provided shelter for the crack dealers who worked,
literally, behind the counters of stalls originally used by ven-
dors in the farmers’ market. Drug culture spilled over to the
bars and brothels and into the streets, to permeate almost
every aspect of community life.
The heightened visibility of the drug trade in Manguinhos
can be attributed to the uncontested hegemony of the Co-
mando Vermelho, the oldest drug faction in the city, where
the gang leadership was least vulnerable to enemy inva-
sions. The CV’s operations, including the stockpiling of
weapons and the regional distribution of drugs to the fave-
las city-wide, were centered in the nearby Complexo do
ao favela until late in 2010 when the UPP took con-
trol there. Manguinhos subsequently absorbed the bulk of
CV operations, including its headquarters. This increased
the already large-scale visibility of the drug economy and
elevated the flow of drug migrants into the favela.
The social landscape of Manguinhos visibly changed in
October 2012, when BOPE units stormed in with 1,300 troops
assisted by helicopters and tanks, to smash through whatever
obstacles were in their way and symbolically liberate the favela
from the stronghold of the CVs. The UPP consequently in-
stalled 588 officers in Manguinhos, one for every 60 residents
[2]. The shacks of the crackol
andia were demolished and ad-
dicts were deposited in shelters for a few days before finding
their way back to the streets [
]. Though the physical armed
presence of the CVs no longer dominate the landscape, they
still remain highly active in the area (Figure 4).
Even before the favela’s takeover by the UPP, a large-
scale urbanization project was well underway to redevelop
the area that surrounds Manguinhos leading up to the Mara-
a Sports Stadium. Funded by PAC, the urbanization
project began in 2008 and is coordinated by the State Min-
istry of Works (Seobras), in partnership with Emop. Ac-
cording to the State Department of Finance, the total PAC
investment between 2008 and 2010 was around R$ 3.1
billion (US$ 1.6 billion). Among the works delivered in
2009 was a 35,500 square meter Civic Center located on
the grounds of a new mid-rise housing complex built on
the grounds of the old Army Supply Depot (DSUP). The
Center included a library (with a theater and cinema), a
recycling facility, an ‘income generation center’, a health
clinic, a women’s social service center, a legal aid center,
a sports court, and a high school attached to a swimming
pool known as the ‘Manguinhos Water Park’ [136].
Figure 4.
CV tags on home exteriors, Manguinhos, 2015.
According to some residents, the project initially brought
some gradual improvements to the neighborhood [
], but
many services, including the library, the swimming pool,
and the youth center, have already been shut down, or op-
erate in a reduced capacity, due to lack of funding. The
abandoned Army Supply Depot warehouse has been left
standing in a dangerous and derelict state for children to
explore, little sports activity takes place on the courts, the
kiosks built for commerce have never been used, there
is trouble having mail delivered to the housing complex,
the homeless sleep outside the health clinic, and the high
school is overcrowded with up to 50 students per class.
The swimming pool, in particular, is a prime example of
the gulf between political rhetoric and service delivery. The
project was initiated after a thirteen year-old Manguinhos
teenager photographed swimming in a mud puddle went
viral. In response to the public embarrassment, former
President Lula announced a community pool for the people
of Manguinhos. The Water Park was subsequently built
along with the high school and inaugurated in 2009 with the
President in attendance at the opening ceremony.
Despite the political bombast, however, Manguinhos res-
idents and students are denied access to the pool—which
is enclosed by a high wall patrolled by the UPP—because,
according to the State Department of Education, people
were “smashing the place”. Witnesses have reported UPP
police beating youth attempting to access the pool [
which now sits abandoned and filled with stagnant water.
Without a leisure area to experience respite from the heat
(which reaches up to 47
C), children continue to swim in
the rivers that the untreated sewerage runs into [139].
Though the Youth Center was closed almost as soon as it
was opened, the income generation centre, run by the Techni-
cal Support School Foundation (FAETEC) has offered limited
vocational training to people interested in becoming a stock
clerk, a hardware store owner, an administrative assistant, a
hairdressing assistant, a construction laborer, an electrician, a
plumber, an air conditioning unit installer, a manicurist, a solar
heating installer, a computer maintenance technician, a tiler, a
brickworker, a painter, a telemarketing operator, or a CISCO
technician. Other courses periodically offered have included
basic computer operation, English and Spanish. The Ministry
of Science and Technology has invested approximately R$
1.25 million in the project [
]. Through FAETEC, 12,000
vocational training vacancies have been offered in UPP oc-
cupied areas throughout the city. The goal is to train people
with the skills necessary to service “the needs of the corpo-
rate partnership with the Rio 2016 Committee” [
Graduates are supposedly to be contracted to supply labor for
the Olympics, yet even this meager opportunity seems unlikely,
given the Olympic budget was already slashed by 30% a year
out from the Games [
], with cuts continuing to become
deeper and more extreme as the Games get closer [143,144].
Despite the failures of the DSUP housing complex, most
residents agreed that the library provided extraordinary ben-
efit to the youth of the community, and would like to see the
discontinued services restored, though none hold out hope
that they will be [145].
Another project now in jeopardy due to a municipal bud-
get shortfall is the Manguinhos food garden. The kilometer
long stretch of what had been part of the crackol
andia be-
fore the occupation, has subsequently made way for the
largest experiment in urban agriculture the city has ever
seen. Approximately R$ 500,000 (US$ 166,500) of funding
was allocated through the municipality and PAC [
] to de-
velop the large-scale garden, created by the Department for
the Environment’s Hortas Cariocas program—an organic
agroecology project based in the favelas and public schools
of Rio. The garden is overseen by Hortas Cariocas, and run
by Manguinhos residents, whose names were put forward
for employment by the local Resident’s Association.
The project advanced as a PPP between Hortas Car-
iocas, the Mayor’s Office, the electric utility Light (which
has granted legal right to use the land under the transmis-
sion lines), and the Manguinhos Residents’ Association. In
addition, a community volunteer section (working mostly
with resident retirees and children) was established with
the help of Green My Favela. Around twenty Hortas Cario-
cas employees each receive a stipend of R$ 380 a month
to work in the garden. All gardeners take home produce
regularly from the garden, and contribute to feeding some
of the more vulnerable community members. Hortas Cari-
ocas also donates to local school lunch programs, and is
beginning to sell produce at local farmers’ markets. The
Manguinhos garden has been operating since early 2014
(Figure 5).
One of the primary actions in the PAC redevelopment
of Manguinhos has been a two-kilometer long elevation
of the train track. Architect Jorge Jauegui, who won the
Morar Carioca contract to design the redevelopment [147],
believes the project is a “social connector” for the commu-
nity. Jauegui even dubbed it the “Manguinhos Rambla” (in
reference to Barcelona’s La Rambla). The train track is a
far cry, however, from being a public space of “socio-spatial
regeneration” [
]. The undertaking has resulted in the
forced relocation of almost 700 families [149].
Before its demolition to make way for the venture, resi-
dents of Beira Rio (a little Manguinhos neighborhood close
to the river and train tracks) had managed to develop a mod-
est infrastructure which included bakeries, a kindergarten
and a church. Many residents were not even informed of
their impending removal and none had any input in the pro-
cess. They were simply confronted by armored vehicles and
police raids ordered by Governor Cabral, and told to leave
their premises [121]. In 2013, 900 families suffered a simi-
lar fate when they were removed to make way for a nearby
sports complex [
]. The area under the elevated train
track now functions as a homeless camp, budding crack-
land, and an area of prolific drug dealing where conditions
are unsafe and unsanitary (Figure 6).
Figure 5.
Hortas Cariocas organic food garden in Manguin-
hos, 2015.
Residents facing removal must accept minimal com-
pensation to abandon their homes and relocate further
out to the periphery of the city or resettle in the same area
at far greater cost in the PAC social housing schemes.
PAC has invested R$ 567 million (US$ 183 million) in
building three new PPP social housing complexes in Man-
guinhos [150]. These complexes are essentially vertical,
mid-rise favelas beset with infrastructure problems. Not
only have the people of Manguinhos been denied any
participation in the planning of the redevelopments, but
attempts by residents to formally organize and insert their
voices into the process have been deemed illegal and
shutdown by the city [134].
Since pacification, home prices in the area have in-
creased 500–600%, forcing many to relocate a further
40 km from the city center. Some have resettled near
Manguinhos in the new, federal social housing complex,
Minha Casa Minha Vida (My House My Life or MCMV)
[151]. Of the 22,000 families who have been relocated in
the pre-Olympic period under Eduardo Paes [
], 74%
now reside in federal MCMV housing [
]. 2.3 million
MCMV housing units have already been built to service
low-income and informal sector families. Another 1.6 mil-
lion units are slated for construction. Using public funds,
private contractors build and sell these condominiums for
profit. The policy is dependent on the continual need for
large volumes of investment.
These apartments are so small (37 m
) that a family
with two or three children requires that one family member
sleep outside. The MCMV housing complexes that have
been built throughout the city for relocated residents, have
failed so remarkably that whole complexes have been either
abandoned within three years of being built [
], or have
devolved to the extent that civil and military police carry out
armed operations in attempts to dismantle militia groups
operating in the condominiums. According to data from
the ministries of Justice and of Cities, of 108 complaints
received between April 2014 and January 2015, 70% have
involved assault, murder, or the presence of drug traffickers
in MCMV condominiums [155].
The 2015 budget saw a 28% cut in funding to the MCMV
program, a reduction which may further jeopardize already
substandard building quality where existing units are subject
to flooding, non-functioning infrastructure, and inadequate
services and maintenance. These housing policies have
been found to create trauma and depression for family mem-
bers, who suffer from the loss of jobs and small business
opportunities, increased commute times (up to six hours a
day), and higher costs of living [
]. This scenario exasper-
ates social exclusion and what is referred to as ‘root shock’
], the traumatic stress associated with the loss of one’s
emotional ecosystem as a result of development-induced
According to law, financial compensation must be of-
fered to homeowners who are forcibly displaced. The com-
pensation must legally equal market value for an equiva-
lent property within a one kilometer radius. In Manguin-
hos, market value is currently R$ 100,000–124,000 (US$
32,000–39,000). Though the State is lawfully bound to com-
pensate at full market price, the actual compensation being
offered residents is just R$ 6,000–6,500 (US$ 1,900–2,100)
]. Alternatively, residents who choose to relocate into
the complexes are eligible for an assisted home-owner pur-
chase option whereby grants of between R$ 17,000–30,000
(US$ 5,480–10,000) are obtainable to help with the down-
payment in units that Emop is selling at the high end of the
market. Residents now pay six times the price they had
previously been paying to remain in the neighborhood and
live in these new condominiums [158].
Eight lawsuits have been filed against Emop over de-
molitions and new PAC housing complexes in Manguinhos.
Residents at the new Embratel II Popular Housing Project,
a mid-rise set of 480 housing units, endure a putrid smell
from the adjacent oil refinery and a heavy buildup of soot
that accumulates in their homes. The 568 DSUP apart-
ments are also beleaguered by sanitation deficiencies that
are exasperated by a lack of maintenance. Chronically
inadequate trash removal has led to vermin infestations.
Sewerage leaks of unsanitary water create high dengue
risks, while makeshift connections to pumps leave residents
without access to water for weeks at a time [
]. Emop
and CEDAE blame the residents for not using the facilities
properly [158].
Even though the community has been allocated invest-
ment funding worth millions of dollars through PAC, the
programs have failed to effectively address one of the com-
munity’s most urgent needs, that of the dumping of raw sew-
erage which flows directly into the Faria-Timb
o River and is
carried into Guanabara Bay—Rio’s venue for the Olympic
sailing events—which accepts about 70% of the city’s raw
sewerage overall [
]. The launch of PAC-Manguinhos
was accompanied by a presidential pledge to bring basic
sanitation to the favela. However, the promise remains un-
fulfilled, along with numerous other unrealized infrastructure
improvements [161].
In June 2012, the presidents of Caixa Econ
omica and
CEDAE stood alongside Governor Cabral to publically an-
nounce the R$ 176 million financing of the installation of
the Faria-Timb
o sewage collection tube [
]. The promise
was not fulfilled and the money disappeared. The pledge
was repeated in October 2012, and was accompanied by a
R$ 250 million (US$ 80.3 million) budget, with construction
to start by December that year [
]. The project, again,
never materialized. In June 2013, during another round
of infrastructure funding announcements, the project was
scaled back to “reducing the waste that comes from the
o River into Guanabara Bay” [
]. Yet even
without the sewerage tube, little progress has been made
(Figure 7).
Severe flash floods that overflow these open sewers have
historically isolated Manguinhos communities for weeks at a
time [164]. The floods expose residents to a range of public
health risks, including the transmission of leptospirosis, a
blood disease transmitted through raw sewerage; increased
incidents of dengue fever, which is 470% more prevalent in
Manguinhos than in affluent neighborhoods [
]; and soil
contamination, which has been found to have high concen-
trations of bioaccumulating carcinogenic pollutants (including
lead and cadmium) in ranges above the tolerable parameters
for residential development [166].
The piles of ruins, debris, and garbage that are left in
the wake of forced evictions only further exasperate these
already chronic public health hazards [
]. The tactic of
leaving demolished housing ruins visible creates a very
deliberate threat of more forced removals to come. The
strategy is symbolic of a pattern of eviction [
] whereby
residents are confronted by Special Forces and ordered to
leave their homes with little to no warning [
]. Troops
are usually accompanied or followed by demolition teams
that move in, often unannounced, and cut power before
bulldozing homes or knocking holes through the walls to
make them uninhabitable. Often the process occurs without
official documentation and without alerting adjacent resi-
dents [
]. One demonstration protesting the eviction of
an occupied building in Manguinhos became so intense
that it resulted in the UPP headquarters being set on fire
and the unit’s police commander being shot in the leg [
Residents’ relationships with the police is troubled. The
community is dissatisfied with the amount of money being
directed toward funding police rather than toward reducing
hunger [
]. One of the most visible ‘security’ expendi-
tures around Manguinhos is the ‘City of Police’, a complex
of fourteen specialized police stations housing 3,000 civil
police. Built in 2013 at a cost of R$ 170 million (US$ 56.5
million), the Special Forces training area includes a “shoot-
ing house”—a fake favela designed with shacks, alleys and
concrete slabs—where police train with live rounds [
The results speak for themselves.
In March 2013, just two months after the UPP entered
Manguinhos, police tasered 17 year-old Mateus Oliveira
e to death [
]. Cas
e’s death provoked community
protests which resulted in children, including a four-month
old baby, being pepper sprayed by police [172]. In October
2013, 18 year-old Paulo Menezes was beaten and suffo-
cated to death while in UPP custody [
]. In December
2013, an 81 year-old man was shot in the head and killed
during a community protest [174]. He had been asking po-
lice to wait for the arrival of the mothers of three teenagers
who the UPP were arresting for smoking marajuana. On
14 May 2014, 19 year-old Johnathan de Oliveira Lima was
shot and killed by the UPP [
]. In July, as a World Cup
match was being played close by at Maracan
a stadium, 25
year-old Afonso Linhares was fatally shot by police as he
was refereeing a football match [176]. In September 2015,
a thirteen year-old student by the name of Cristian Andrade
was killed when a shootout erupted between Core Special
Ops forces, UPP police, members of the homocide squad,
and drug traffickers in a retaliatory operation for a police
officer being shot in a nearby favela. Andrade had been
running to aid a woman he saw fall to the ground when he
was shot [177].
Clearly, Manguinhos is the starkest example of violence,
social exclusion and poverty outlined in these three case re-
ports, and has seen the most interventions of the three dis-
tricts examined. Residents have been allowed little voice in
the redevelopment of their neighborhood, and tensions be-
tween police and residents remain critically strained. How-
ever, there have been some improvements brought to the
area through pacification, most notably in ending the high
visibility of the armed drug trafficking trade on the street
and the effect this has on young children. There has also
been a decrease in the likelihood of death or injury by stray
bullets, even though youth, in particular, remain at risk of
violence through police actions.
Social assets such as the garden bring great pride to
the community, especially to those who work in the gar-
den, or those whose homes overlook the kilometer-long
space. Children can now exit their homes without fear, and
are able to see clean, productive space, rather than a dan-
gerous and vermin-infested crackol
andia built on top of a
garbage heap. Children often comment on how much bet-
ter their neighborhood smells because of the garden. The
library also provided a safe and clean gathering place for
them to play games and connect on social media networks
using computers that were otherwise unavailable to them.
Therefore, despite some constructive advances made in re-
gard to social infrastructure, overall, the beneficial activities
that have surrounded pacification are at best in jeopardy,
and at worst already repeating the familiar pattern of State
abandonment, discontinuance, and violent exploitation that
residents are so used to.
Figure 6. Manguinhos train station under the elevated tracks with river channel/open sewer, 2015.
Figure 7. Stalled sewerage project and water of the Faria-Timb
o River, 2015.
Figure 8. Children’s chalk drawings, Manguinhos, 2014.
16. Summary of Case Reports
These case reports show that the UPP, though chronically
flawed in many ways, does have some merit, particularly in
smaller favelas where conflict is low and policing is deliv-
ered in conjunction with social services, provided they can
be continued.
16.1. Impact on Public Security
One of the most positive aspects brought to favelas by the
UPP is the interruption to drug trafficking brought about by
a reduction in the visibility of bocas and a decrease in ‘open
carry’ drug trafficking culture, though there still remains sub-
stantial pressure on teenage boys to enter into gang culture
(Figure 8). De-normalizing the propensity for the open carry
of firearms by civilians is important in making Rio a safer
place to live, and the UPPs have helped begin this process
by giving a generation of youth the opportunity to grow up
in environments in which gang violence is not the dominant
feature of social control.
The most obvious positive change brought by the UPPs
was the reduction in lethal violence inside pacified favelas
between 2008 and 2011. During this time, the presence of
the UPP is estimated to have saved 60 lives per year per
100,000 inhabitants, and overall lethal violence, including
extra-judicial police killings (known as resistance killings)
were also reduced [91].
However, the numbers of resistance killings at the hands
of police since 2012 have again been on the rise. Youth
homicide rates in Rio de Janeiro reached 56.5 homicides
per 100,000 in 2012 [
]. Though this was not only at-
tributable to the UPPs, they were a dominant contributor
to this growing trend. More recent figures show resistance
killings by police between January and August 2015 (459
cases) [
] exceed the numbers for all of 2013 (416), and
are equal to 80% of total cases reported for the year 2014
(563 cases) [180].
Residents cite a general decrease in armed conflict be-
tween rival gangs and between gangs and police. However,
the incidences and threats of armed violence perpetrated
by the UPP produce ongoing psychological stress within the
community, particularly in youth [181]. Residents continue
to be restricted in their mobility and are searched, detained,
and arrested at will by police both inside the favelas and at
UPP checkpoints that control the entry and exit points to
them [182].
Though open warfare has decreased overall, armed
conflicts between police and gang members, and between
rival gang members now vying for domination of the same
internal territory has created an unpredictability to gunfire
exchanges that continue to result in civilian deaths. The ar-
bitrariness of violence in combination with police corruption
has exasperated the problems associated with the disrup-
tion of drug trafficking. As well, the dismantling of the drug
trafficking economy itself has been deliberately avoided as
a goal of the UPP campaign, therefore the culture of drug
trafficking remains endemic and unabated. In addition, drug
trafficking and possession of marajuana, crack, and cocaine
within the armed forces rose 337% between the years 2002
and 2014 [183]. Complaints about abuse and corrupt prac-
tices in the UPP police are increasing [101]. In 2012, more
than 300 military police were expelled from the institution
for corruption or involvement with militias, including murder
and extortion crimes [184].
Rio’s persistent failures that plague its revolving ‘com-
munity policing’ policies in its ‘war against crime’ [185], are
largely motivated by populist electoral politics. Time and
time again, these policies have been discontinued due to
regime changes and budget cuts [
], leaving residents
to cope, again, with living under gang rule [
]. This, cou-
pled with the rising tide of police killings [
], continues
to reinforce negative perceptions of Rio’s police interven-
tions. Police commit more than one in every six of Rio de
Janeiro’s homicides. Four out of five of them are perpe-
trated on young, poor Afro-Brazilians. Deaths caused by
the police of Rio de Janeiro grew 18% in 2015, with police
killing 517 people just between the months of January and
September [
]. Police often alter evidence to conceal the
facts, another reason that leaves the general public, and
favela residents in particular, mistrustful of them [189].
Fears also persist in residents that being seen interact-
ing with police will mark them as informants, which in turn
will bring retribution from traffickers [
]. Alternatively, res-
idents fear that they will be tortured if detained by police
]. Many see police as just another armed gang [
Many also complain of the rise in crime since the UPPs
took control, especially in relation to domestic violence,
theft, and rape (all banned under trafficking law) [192].
16.2. The Impacts of Urbanization
Many residents want to be involved in having a say about
how their communities are being redeveloped [
], and
feel that funding would be better utilized if redirected toward
providing critical infrastructure and social services rather
than being channeled toward militarization [193]. Most are
generally dissatisfied with the interventions that come with
pacification because they are locked out of the decision-
making processes and daily management of their com-
munities. Public demonstrations, as well as community
attempts to legally organize or unionize are swiftly and
harshly quashed by the city.
Most are frustrated that the government has not deliv-
ered the services, employment opportunities, and infrastruc-
ture promised under pacification. The social infrastructure
that has been delivered—the schools, daycares, health clin-
ics, libraries and gardens are highly valued by residents,
but are continually at risk of being shut down.
According to the IPP, R$ 1.8 billion (US$ 0.7 million)
was invested in pacified favelas between 2009 and 2014
]. 60 new education units [
] have been built to
benefit 8,700 students [
]. However, students in public
schools only receive four hours of schooling a day due to
a critical overcrowding of the system, many students sit
in classrooms with 50 other children at a time, and a lack
of daycare facilities, though increased under the UPP, still
leaves thousands on waiting lists and without placement
]. In terms of health, 24 hour emergency clinics are built
close to the entrance of pacified favelas. The IPP claims the
Family Health Program now covers 73% of pacified areas
and reaches 100% of residents in twelve pacified territories
]. However, in Manguinhos, the homeless sleeping out-
side the 24 hour UPA health clinic shows just how deficient
social services are overall.
The most tragic loss of community service has been
the loss of funding to the library, which has been a critical
asset to favela youth. Though millions went to the architects
and construction firms to design and build the facility, only
two years of funding was allocated by the state for project
management and staffing. The library was first forced to
reduce its operating hours in April 2015, and by November,
employees were put on notice as almost half the annual
funding had been rescinded. It is expected to close per-
manently, along with other favela libraries, in the very near
Regularization has brought a sharp, and often unafford-
able increase in the cost of utilities, in electricity in particular.
Light—Rio’s privatized electric company—has become one
of the largest beneficiaries of pacification. Prior to the pro-
gram, Light claimed it lost at least US$ 200 million a year
from pirated electricity connections in the favelas. In 2010
alone, the company invested R$ 38 million to rewire com-
munities and install meters in UPP-held areas [ 6]. Thanks
to regularization, the company has formalized almost all of
its connections in pacified areas.
The expansion of regularization into pacified territory
has also brought formalized cable, satellite television, and
Internet connections to the favelas, as well as a slew of other
corporate enterprises, accompanied by aggressive market-
ing campaigns. As reported by Bloomberg in 2012, Rio’s
favelas have an untapped economy potentially worth
R$ 13
billion [
]. According to a representative of
“the reclaiming of these [favela] territories formerly hostile
to formal businesses is opening ever more markets for
large chains”. FIRJAN also claims opportunities are being
brought to small entrepreneurs, though many small busi-
ness holders feel the large chains threaten their business
Despite this economic movement, there has been very
little effort invested in providing adequate critical infrastruc-
ture. Though the government has promised to invest in
social infrastructure, in the opinions of residents, communi-
ties overall remain largely unchanged in this regard [
Pacified communities still suffer from a lack of adequate
space for children to play and are besought by environmen-
tal hazards. The vast majority of PAC infrastructure funding
has been paid out in the design phase, and much of the
infrastructure built by private contractors has been either
abandoned half-finished or executed in a substandard way,
for example, in the city’s massive public housing project
failures [202].
Rio’s various forced eviction and relocation strategies
clearly reveals how the UPPs are essential to the process of
claiming devalued space at little cost, especially in regards
to the accumulation of real estate and the subsequent rais-
ing of speculative land values both in the favelas and in the
formal neighborhoods that surround them [
]. The 3,000
or so families that have been allowed to remain in their “at
risk” homes [
] pale in comparison to the 19,000+ fami-
lies (70,000+ people) that have been removed to make way
for roads, sports and event-related venues, the renovation
of the port area, and other urbanization projects that service
the World Cup and Olympics [205].
A significant number of families continue to fight re-
movals, while others are being priced out of their homes,
or will be driven out in the near future, given the rapid ur-
banization activities that are propelling gentrification [
Rents have now overtaken sales in favelas, and rents for
homes and lajes (concrete slabs that can be built on verti-
cally) in pacified favelas have been rising faster than rents
for the city as a whole. Sales of regularized real estate
in favelas now fetch ten times as much as those that are
informally owned. Urbanization processes must be slowed
down, and some regulation introduced to the real estate
market, if gentrification is to be decelerated. Even though
real estate prices in pacified favelas have sky-rocketed, it
is the real estate immediately adjacent to the favelas that
are affected most strongly, particularly real estate that has
views facing away from the favela, as the Tijuca case study
One of the biggest obstacles to creating stability in the
favelas is a lack of employment creation that would allow
residents to earn a legitimate wage. Without offering alter-
native ways to earn a living, many will not turn away from
the illicit sources of income obtainable through selling drugs.
Income generation would also help absorb the rising cost
of living brought about by pacification. Increased and better
vocational training opportunities would enable adolescents
in particular, and residents in general, to attain a higher
level of social mobility.
The 2012 World Bank impact study concluded that the
sustainable integration of favelas would require i) employ-
ment creation to allow residents to afford rising living costs
and to replace former illicit sources of income; ii) a reduc-
tion in violence on the part of the UPP; iii) confidence in all
sectors that the UPP will remain after the Olympics; and iv)
prioritization of social programs [
]. As this report shows,
on none of these fronts has the government adequately
delivered. In addition, though sustainable development is
regarded as one of the government’s foundations of pacifi-
cation, there has been no institutional reform—one of the
critical requirements to its success [206].
Having armed drug trafficking gangs controlling inner-
city neighborhoods is clearly an untenable situation. That
the state is finally stepping in to reclaim gang-dominated
favelas, if only in a limited way, is necessary, at least in the-
ory. It is a step that should have been taken long ago. But
the current process is defective because instead of being
a security strategy for the entire city, the UPP is driven to
fulfill the needs of mega-events, construction conglomer-
ates, real estate interests, and those who see favelas as
potential markets. Urbanization decisions are made without
participation, transparency, or accountability, down to the
day-to-day interactions in communities. As long as the state
continues its interventions through an exclusionary culture
that legitimizes violence and forced displacement, life in Rio
will, for the most part, continue as it always has—to the
benefit of a few at the expense of the many.
17. Conclusion & Discussion
The UPP program may have both merits and its flaws in
regards to tackling the problems of public security, and in
providing both social and hard infrastructure services. How-
ever, the pacification of select favelas, rather than being
viewed as a public security policy, must be understood as a
policy designed specifically for the purposes of increasing
capital accumulation at various scales for specific interests—
interests that achieve their goals through shaping the city
as a mega-events venue.
The general framework outlined in this paper and de-
tailed in the case reports reveal various combinations of
rights violations in regard to both the right to the city (es-
pecially property rights and transportation), and the demo-
cratic rights of citizens (access to information, civic participa-
tion, freedom of mobility, and public security). Furthermore,
this article has aimed to show the connection between Rio’s
urbanization policies and the violence of pacification—what
David Harvey refers to “accumulation by dispossession”
]—how the State engineers the military takeovers of ter-
ritories in order to control assets by force with a view to
increasing avenues for the growth of private capital.
Favelas are under-leveraged territories especially vulner-
able to this sort of exploitation. Strategies of ‘exceptionality
urbanism’, enforced under a pretext of public security, en-
able existing legal regulations to be bypassed in order to
seize devalued assets, recolonize them, and raise their
value. The concept of accumulation by dispossession is a
valuable framework for understanding these processes.
Major real estate developers, engineering and construc-
tion firms, and corporate brands need favelas to be pacified
in order for the valorization of commodified assets to oc-
cur. Real estate developers and speculators, and the city’s
middle and elite classes desire pacification in order to grow
their capital. And utilities and service providers and mer-
chants require the pacification of favelas in order to expand
markets for their commodities.
The results are the wholesale sell off of public assets,
the exclusive commercial right to the use of public spaces,
and access to public infrastructure at little to no cost. This
can be seen as an extension of Brazil’s tradition of colonial-
ism, where land, according to urbanist Edesio Fernandes,
is “conceived of almost exclusively as a commodity, the
economic content of which is determined by the individual
interests of owners” [207].
The mobilizing of huge amounts of state capital
and political will to transform Rio into a mega-events
host city strengthens an already aggressive urbanization
agenda. All this capital accumulation involves a degree of
dispossession—at the very least the dispossession of public
assets and political process. Favela communities, although
they may be somewhat liberated from the influence of drug
gangs, are also dispossessed of their self-determination in
relation to community affairs under the UPP. On a very phys-
ical level, thousands are being evicted from their homes or
forced out through gentrification.
Areas in proximity to the city’s mega-event venues, air-
ports, and transportation lines, previously abandoned by
the State, and now considered enormously valuable as the
object of real estate speculation, are appropriated by force
in disregard of the right to land guaranteed protection under
law [208].
Reshaping connections between neoliberal governance,
civil society and local relations, to enhance the right to the
city for all, will require reassigning key roles in decision-
making apparatuses to recognize the importance of inclu-
sive citizenship and the benefits of social equality. Introduc-
ing mechanisms whereby citizens begin to have a voice in
how their communities are shaped and managed is criti-
cal to creating wider public security and sustainable socio-
economic development.
Favela residents are critically positioned to advise the
city on their needs. As a consequence and necessity of in-
formality, favelas are shaped by ingenuity. Residents’ capac-
ity to adapt to new and challenging contexts distinguishes
them as exceptionally able to organically plan, design, and
evolve within complex and heterogeneous mixed-use con-
texts. The qualities displayed in the resilience and flexibility
of these communities’ abilities to create alternative sys-
tems for real estate title exchange, loans and financing,
public service infrastructure delivery, urban planning, and
housing construction, realized with few material resources,
offer an ingenious platform from which to develop vibrant,
community-centered approaches to both policing and ur-
banization. Even though many internal associational struc-
tures have been compromised under gang control, there
are still opportunities for building inclusive municipal models
in which favelas, and their residents, can better integrate
into the broader fabric of the city through collaborative city-
building processes that mobilize informal sector residents
without disenfranchising them. In other words, pacification
is a political choice, and the way pacification is implemented
also consists of sets of political choices that perceives of,
and deals with informality in a particular way.
There are four dominant, and somewhat overlapping
perspectives on informality. The Dualist school of thought
subscribes to the notion that informal activities have few
connections to the formal economy, and that the sector oper-
ates as a separate, less-advantaged, or dual segment of the
economy. Dualists believe governments need create more
jobs, credit, business development services, basic infras-
tructure and social services for the sector. Structuralists see
the informal and formal economies as intrinsically linked,
with informal wage earners subordinated by the interests
of capitalist development. They argue that governments
should address the unequal relationship between big busi-
ness and subordinated producers and workers by regulating
both commercial and employment relationships. Legalists
believe in a formal regulatory environment but acknowledge
that formal commercial interests collude with government
to bureaucratize or legislate to their advantage, and argue
that governments need to simplify bureaucratic procedures
in order to incentivize informal enterprises to regularize
their businesses, property and assets. Voluntarists charge
that informal enterprises have an unfair advantage because
of their avoidance of formal regulations, taxes, and other
costs of production and services. They argue that informal
enterprises should be brought into the formal regulatory
framework in order to increase the tax base and profit mar-
gins of the public and private sectors. The informal sector
can also be seen as illegal, because it is involved in produc-
ing activities that are forbidden, unauthorized, or operate in
non-compliance with regularization laws [
]. Whatever
the perspective, at the core of all these theories lies an
opposition between the informal and formal.
Within this oppositional dichotomy lies the assumption
that the informal sector is unorganized. On this assump-
tion, it is often discredited for its deficiencies, whereas the
formal sector is associated with structure, and therefore,
organizational success. This is an important aspect of the
formal versus informal debate, especially in regard to pol-
icy decisions that lead to formal interventions—often with
disastrous results.
In recent years, theorizing about the formal-informality
dichotomy has begun to move beyond this conceptualization
to discuss the specific objectives of policy intervention out-
side of this narrow development discourse. There is much
evidence to suggest that informally organized communities
can be highly functioning and more effective than inefficient
or corrupt government structures, and in the case of Rio, the
governments revolving-door intervention policies [210].
Each circumstance, however, is different. Each region,
or even favela, presents diverse and variable conditions that
make generalizing about informality difficult. Each favela of
different size, topography, geography, whether under gang
control or free of it, presents a very unique set of complex
circumstances. Therefore, Rio’s informal sector defined
in terms of a lack of social and legal protections may not
be the only, or even the foremost aspect to examine with
respect to fostering inclusive stability. For example, some
people may choose to enter or remain in the high end of
informal employment voluntarily because it pays more than
formal employment, whereas those that work informally be-
cause of limited opportunities have very different degrees
of choice within the informal economy. On the other hand,
informal employment (and informality in general) that is the
outcome of structural constraints that limit choice, is a clear
barrier to inclusivity [211].
Social protection policies that are designed to reduce
risks among Rio’s vulnerable sector should also focus on
designing appropriate forms of social protection based on
actual sources of risk and need. Evaluating how issues con-
cerning favelas should be integrated into State development
policy requires determining to what extent access to social
and legal protections represents freedoms or constraints
in the ability of individuals to participate in, or benefit from,
municipal intervention activities. Informality or regulariza-
tion may exasperate other social or economic constraints,
rather than representing distinct, separate constraints in
themselves. For example, a lack of access to micro-finance
represents a constraint for many small-scale enterprises,
yet the UPP curtails access even further through exclud-
ing the informal sector from being eligible to receive this
financial service. In Brazil, micro-credit’s largest failure is
that it is unable to reach those that need it most because of
lending policies [
]. The solution involves providing infor-
mal enterprises with access to credit, rather than excluding
them from it because they are informal, per se.
Part of the solution to integrating favelas into the formal
city of Rio may involve creating new institutions, relation-
ships, practices, and access to opportunities that, through
their existence, make informality more stable, rather than
focusing on the goal of eradicating informality in general. In
addition, inclusivity requires not only expanding the number
of choices available to individuals, but also the quality of
those choices [211].
Whether or not this latest round of militarized occupa-
tion continues, at the very least, creating and maintaining
political spaces in democratic discourse for Rio’s lowest-
income constituencies requires consistently representing
their identities, interests and concerns. In recent years, the
rise of third sector social movements advocating justice,
inclusion and peace as priorities for the urban poor have
intensified reform pressure against corruption and brought
attention to flawed government priorities and demands for
sustainable services and policies. Dedicated activism and a
strong independent mediascape continue to struggle within
a geography of fragmented resistance to protest neoliberal
policy in relation to the mega-events—at great personal risk
to those involved. Participatory housing initiatives such as
those promoted by Brazil’s National Movement for Hous-
ing Vindication, the Landless Workers’ Movement, Global
Justice, the Institute for the Defense of Human Rights, and
the National Movement for the Fight for Housing, to name a
few, seek a holistic solution to urban reform and an end to
the housing crisis through coordinating the informal sector
and promoting their right to the city. Many local civil sec-
tor organizations also engage in justice issues that aim to
redress human rights and territorial issues concerning the
architecture of power and economic transition in relation
to the changes being brought about in connection to Rio’s
Overall, however, this is only achievable through institu-
tional reform, and institutional reform can only be achieved
through an inclusive, transparent, and accountable political
framework. This may be the hardest challenge of all for
Rio to overcome. In all likelihood, it is highly improbable
that Rio de Janeiro will gather the political will to progress
beyond what it already is—a city of exception designed to
benefit the bourgeoisie.
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daughter’s bed. Favela homes are even more vulner-
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