Met Mauricio Hora, a photographer who was born and raised in Morro do Providencia, Brasil’s first favela.  He is the son of one of the first traffickers in Rio de Janeiro.  The system of banditry endemic in Rio was normal to him when he was growing up; that was just the way things were.  According to him, the greatest scenes of violence he ever saw growing up in the community was always when the police entered the favela.
Mauricio said that all of the favelas in which the UPP have been implanted to date are the territory of Comando Vermelho, one of Rio’s three main drug trafficking factions.  He says the current Mayor of Rio, Sergio Cabral, has always had a particular distaste for this faction.  All the guns in the favelas come courtesy of the police in the first place, he claimed.
He says the police have close ties with Terceiro Comando, another of the factions.  Hora’s worry is that once the international spotlight is removed after the Olympic Games and World Cup, that the occupied favelas will be devolved to the control of this drug faction.  He fears that things will go right back to the way they were before UPPs were implemented.
We spoke of Parada de Lucas, the favela I visited on Sunday, and a mutual friend we have there. Mauricio says he cannot risk going to visit her there, or to any other favela controlled by rival factions, even though he has no links with drugs trafficking gangs personally.  He face is too well known, he says, and he would fear for his safety in many parts of the city. While he lives in Rio de Janeiro, he will continue to be linked to the legacy of this father, and the community he grew up in.
Mauricio explained how the traffickers effectively police the favela communities.  There are no courts of law, so if someone needs to be punished, and a lesson sent out to others in the community, killing them is often seen as the easiest solution.
Mauricio spoke of the high number of young people who are being summarily executed by the police.  He complained of a loophole that allows this practice to continue unabated.  If a police officer says there was resistance, and that shots were fired in a confrontation, then they are effectively exempt from prosecution.  He mentioned a specific incident last year, where police killed three youngsters, and carried their bodies elsewhere, so it wouldn’t be on their beat.
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