The headline here in Rio this morning:
'We're ready for what's going to happen'
And the text...
On the eve of the occupation of the favelas of Rocinha and Vidigal, putting an end to decades of dominance by violent drug barons and opening the way for the establishment of the 19th Police Pacification Unit, the Secretary of State for Security, Jose Mariano Beltrame, said yesterday that the police are ready for any confrontation, if necessary, and asked all the residents to take precautions, 'You never know what the bandits are going to do. We're ready for anything. If there's no confrontation, that would be better for everyone. We're hoping that it will be peaceful'.
All the access points to the two favelas will be closed from dawn by the Police Disturbance Batallion and 19 Navy armoured vehicles and the air space will also be closed for 24 hours.
The leading drug baron of Rocinha, 'Nem', was arrested two days ago when he was found in the boot of a car, in his own words, being smuggled out to see his football team in action; an expensive ticket. He also has claimed that half of his income from the drug trade (US$50 million last year), went on police bribes. The two policemen who arrested him yesterday refused an immediate pay off of US$500,000; would that there were more of them.
Rocinha is the most famous and latest of the favelas to be pacified. In every aspect from health provision, to education, freedom of movement and to apply for jobs, and basic daily services and leisure facilities (street cleaning, pizza deliveries and cinemas), life has blossomed in all the pacified favelas. People can congregate without fear, and the cream of every youth can rise.
Therefore, as occupations with different motivations take place around the world (see KendallisHere), I wanted to share the local version here, literally around the block. One armed occupation brought to an end by another, through the use of state armed power, with a pacific objective of ending violence in hundreds and thousands of peoples lives.
So questions arise: Is this an example of a justified use of force? Why has there not been 'A Favela Spring'? Can arms give peace a chance? Or will their continued presence, albeit held in others' hands, ensure that the local society can never truly come to know and value what it is to live in peace? And, I suppose, what is the extent of the right of a democratically elected government to defend with reasonable force the rule of law based on natural law principles and inalienable human rights within its own elective constituency? And, then, the older chestnut of the right or imperative to intervene in other constituencies in the face of clear breaches of those same rights?
It reminds me of the Atkin legal dictum: 'The Bible says, 'Love thy neighbour', the question here, in law, is 'Who is thy neighbour?'.