Discovered yesterday that city councilman Marcelo Friexo, who I had contacted some weeks ago to partake in this documentary due to his outspoken ideas on the UPP, has had to leave the country.  I wondered why he never got back to me, and yesterday discovered why.

Freixo headed up a committee which was investigating the activity of militias (off-duty or retired policemen and firemen who offer so-called security services at premium rates in around 30% of Rio’s favelas.  They also control all services entering the favelas, like gas, cable TV, internet, and basically charge what they like for these.  Business owners have no choice but to pay protection money to militia who rule communities with a cruel hand.)  Militia groups are becoming a bigger problem in Rio de Janeiro than the teenage gangsters we saw in City of God.  Punishments for breaking rules in a militia controlled favela are harsh, and I’ve heard anecdotal accounts of young people being set alight for smoking marijuana.

Anyway, Freixo has has to leave the country with his family as a result of plans to assassinate him.  Seven separate plots were recently discovered, and at the behest of Amnesty International, the councilman who plans to run for mayor next year fled to an undisclosed European location.  The committee he headed investigated the work of militia groups, and this led to the arrest of hundreds of these crooks.

A female judge that was sending them to prison was assassinated outside of her suburban home only a few months ago, and no-one has yet been brought to justice.  A public anti-corruption campaign was launched over the weekend at Copacabana beach, with a crucifix being erected on the same spot where a plaque detailing Rio’s Olympic bid used to stand.  City officials are not happy and want the crucifix removed.

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