Police Try to Bring Back Peace to Rio de Janeiro's Slums

 

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most dangerous cities on earth. For decades the slums of the city have been home to drug dealers, youth gangs and crime. The police have been unsuccessful in turning the favelas into peaceful districts.

For many years the city has refused to patrol the streets of the favelas. It was too dangerous and many police officers were killed. As a result drug gangs took over and ruled the slums on their ownResidents became dependent on gang leaders and cursed the police for leaving them.

But this is beginning to change. Rio de Janeiro is hosting two big sports events in the next decade: the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Summer Games in 2016. The city wants to get rid of crime and present itself as a peaceful metropolis.

In the past year the police and army units started moving into the City of God, one of Rio de Janeiro’s most fearsome slums, in an attempt to bring peace to its residents and restore law and order. This time they are here to stay but they are taking a somewhat different approach. Policemen are talking with the residents and trying to make them feel safer.

Police patrol the streets of Rio de Janeiro

Police patrol the streets of Rio de Janeiro - Wilson Dias/ABr - Eleições 2008


Some of the neighborhood’s 120,000 residents find it hard to accept the police officers as their friends. They think that the police will leave, as they have done so often, after the big events are over.
Today normal life is slowly returning to the streets of the City of God. Children can play on the streets without being afraid of getting killed by bullets. Pupils are returning to school again and more and more trucks are coming into the area to get rid of mountains of waste. Crime has also gone down: 6 murders in 2009 compared with 34 the year before.

Gang leaders are fleeing the City of God and moving to neighboring areas. They are waiting for the police to leave, like they have done previously.

One of the big problems the police units are facing is money. They do not get enough financial support from the city. Millions of dollars are pouring in from companies like Coca Cola and rich businessmen who are interested in showing the world a safe Brazilian city.

There are over 1,000 favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Seven of them, including the City of God, are in the city’s new program to bring peace to the slums. In the next years many more will be included.

 

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Words:

  • accept = believe, understand
  • approach = method of doing something
  • army unit = a group of soldiers working together
  • attempt = try
  • bullet = a piece of metal that you fire from a gun
  • compare = put side by side
  • crime = illegal activities; things that you are not allowed to do
  • curse = here: to say bad things to someone and be angry at them
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • dependent on = if you need someone or something to exist or survive
  • district = area of a city
  • face = to deal with a difficult situation
  • favelas = slums in South American cities
  • fearsome = terrible
  • financial support = money
  • flee = run away from
  • get rid of = do away with; to make something disappear or go away
  • host = to be the place where an important event is happening
  • include = to be a part of
  • including = as well as , together with
  • law and order = a situation in which there is peace and safety
  • metropolis = a very big city
  • on their own = by themselves
  • patrol = to walk around and check to see if there is no trouble
  • police unit = policemen that work together
  • pour in = come in very quickly
  • present = show
  • previously = before
  • refuse = to say no
  • resident = a person who lives in a place
  • restore = bring back
  • safe = not dangerous
  • slum = a place in a city where very poor people live; houses are in a very bad condition
  • somewhat = a bit
  • truck = big car that carries goods and products ; lorry
  • unsuccessful = if you do not get or reach what you have planned
  • waste = unwanted materials that you do not need any more
  • youth gang = group of young people who spend their time together and are often involved in drugs and crime or fight against other groups