Militia Groups Targeting Housing Programs In Rio de Janeiro

Ricardo Teixeira da Cruz aka "Batman"

At least eleven sets of housing blocks in the program “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” (My House, My Life), are being targeted by the actions of paramilitary groups in the western area of Rio de Janeiro. According to information published on Saturday by the newspaper O Globo, the militia loyal to former military police officer Ricardo Teixeira da Cruz, Batman, were exploiting gas services, cable TV, and”private security”, making threats to residents in condos in Campo Grande, Cosmosand Realengo.

Currently Batman is being held in a maximum security federal prison in Mato Grosso do Sul. According to the report, criminals invade the internal areas of the housing complexes and charge “taxes “. Failure to pay and the members of the gangs cut off the water supply of occupied condominiums. Out of fear, residents are reluctant to speak about these matters. The few who speak complain about the association between the police officers with the militiamen.  Many residents are already talking of returning the apartments obtained by the housing program back to the government.

“This is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed not to jeopardize thecontinuity of the program, ” said municipal secretary of Housing, Jorge Bittar, heard by the newspaper. “Trafficking is a serious problem, no doubt, but the militiamen working along with the direct participation of the police, are making it much harder to fight.”  Last week he met with Minister Miriam Belchior (Planning) and National Secretary for Housing, Inês Magalhães, to talk about these issues. Their intention is to involve the Federal Police in an action for returning the occupied condominiums back to the state.

Source: Milícia atua em conjuntos do Minha Casa, Minha Vida, informa jornal

Here is what Chris Gaffney had to say on his blog concerning Militias

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.

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