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Two weeks later, the article was published, sparking a genuine effort to curb the groups' power. [...] the gangs had been assured of benign neglect from Rio's political establishment. [...] many groups enjoyed powerful support from politicians who perceived them as a lesser evil to drug gangs.
DispAtches From the FielD Milícias and Police corruPtion in rio’s Favelas AP Photo/RicARdo MoRAes 90 Americas Quarterly s p r i n g 2009 A m e r i c A s Q u A r t e r ly . o r g A U.S. academic discloses the seamy network of politics, paramilitaries and corruption in Rio de Janeiro. by enrique Desmond arias On the night of May 14, for security in the conti- 2008, a reporting team nent’s poorest neighbor- from O Dia, one of Rio de hoods can prove danger- Janeiro’s major dailies, was ously counterproductive. taken captive in the Favela The milícias are so firmly do Batan in the West Zone established that, until re- neighborhood of Realengo cently, any substantive dis- by a group of armed men. cussion of political alterna- The reporters were inves- tives in many parts of the tigating the phenomenon city was silenced. of milícias, which have im- The journalists were re- posed a brutal form of or- leased by the milícianos der on a broad swath of with a warning that they the city’s poor neighbor- would be killed if they ever hoods since emerging publicized what happened eight years ago as a coun- to them. Two weeks later, terforce against Rio’s noto- the article was published, riously violent drug gangs. sparking a genuine effort But the journalists soon to curb the groups’ power. found themselves part of Until then, the gangs had the story. Their captors, been assured of benign including men who were neglect from Rio’s politi- obviously police, beat the cal establishment. Much reporters and subjected of their violence was di- them to electric shocks. rected against the poor, The torture sessions but with the assault on the
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