THE BLOG
17/07/2013 14:03 BST | Updated 15/09/2013 06:12 BST

Gang Shootout Puts Dent in Rio Slum Pacification Programme

Early afternoon and the bright sunny day is interrupted by the sound of rat-ta-ta-ta-ta followed by the sound of mini- explosions. This was not a bad day in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, but the sound of a gang shoot out for the control of South America's largest slum. The favela da Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The armed battle was alleged to be between two rival gangs, Amigos dos Amigos (ADA ) and Commando Vermelho (CV), in an attempt to regain and seize control of parts of the favela.

The fight became even more complicated after the Military Police (Policia Militar) tried to intervene and end the shootout but were themselves drawn into the gun battle with both gangs.

According to police reports, a total of 29 arrests were made during the incident on Saturday, June 12th.

While this was a rare incident, it demonstrated another blow and setback to the Pacification Programme that was meant to supposedly make the favela safer for the World Cup 2014 and Olympic games in 2016.

The announcement of the World cup and Olympic games in 2014 and 2016 respectively turned the dynamics of the way favelas were neglected by the State.

The Governor of Rio and Mayor shortly announced afterwards that they would be deploying a new tactic called "pacification" to combat crime and liberate the favelas from the control of drug gangs.

The UPP were a new Police unit set up by Rio Governor Sergio Cabral to reign in the gangs after decades of controlling the slum.

However, residents fear this latest incident could be a start of a gang war to control the lucrative drugs business in the favela.

Prior pacification, in November 2011, Rocinha was controlled by ADA gang. But since the police invasion a power vacuum has been created between rival gangs to again take control of the slum.

The pacification programme has been a subject of controversy for the community, while the sight of armed men patrolling the streets and open drugs selling points have disappeared, many residents have compared the process as a police occupation and not so called liberation as the government promised.

"Its just a military like take over for the reason. For us (favela residents), nothing has changed as far as what we expected. Police have just come in to take over and occupy the favela". Said Rocinha resident DJ Zezinho. He also said,

"Abuses and corruption have always been part of the life here in Brazilian favelas and will continue to exist here. Everyday you are always hearing some new story about abuses of poor people or cops receiving bribes allowing traffickers to continue to see their drugs. I don't see anything changing really.

Residents also frequently complain of police abuse and corruption and accuse the state of neglecting the many social problems that was promised to be addressed such as sanitation, education, social integration and job opportunities

Zach leibowitsch, an American volunteer who lived in Rocinha and worked for the Two Brothers Organisation, an Ngo that offers English classes to kids and adults in the favela said.

" Even after the pacification, a great deal of work is still needed to improve the current garbage removal system. Likewise diseases typical of living in close quarters, such as Tuberculosis, are still prevalent".