Chris Gaffney Comments On The Issue

Tropa do Elite III

The forced evictions in Rio are accompanied by two major resettlement projects, Morar Carioca and Minha Casa, Minha Vida. The majority of these settlements are in the far, far western suburbs where the presence of milícias is particularly strong. Milícias are the Rio equivalent of 19th century New York ward bosses that control the provision of water, gas, electricity, cable, security, drugs, and transportation for poor neighborhoods. Comprised of off-duty cops and other civil servants, the milícias were the subject of the Tropa do Elite 2 film. They are clearly a major problem and represent a parallel state structure that is completely intertwined with the democratically elected government. Given the more generalized confusions it came as a shock to hear the Municipal Secretary of housing, Jorge Bittar, announce that there is no way to get rid of the milícias operating in the Minha Casa Minha Vida projects. This is an admission that the state has failed in a large geographic area and has allowed that vacuum to be filled by armed gangs who are much more powerful than the drug trafficking factions that have been the target of the UPP installations throughout the city.

-Chris Gaffney

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