The New York Times: November, 2011
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: About 3,000 police officers
and soldiers moved into one of
the largest slums here on Sunday in a pivotal effort
by the government to assert control
over lawless areas of the city ahead of the 2014
World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.
In an operation that began before dawn, military
helicopters buzzed the sky, and tanks
rolled through the narrow streets of the Rocinha
slum. Elite police squads patrolled the
alleys, and snipers perched on rooftops. The
authorities said the occupation was an effort
at the “pacification” of the sprawling slum, or
favela, and it was carried out peacefully.
By early Sunday evening, the police, accompanied by
contingents from the Brazilian Army
and Navy, had not fired a shot. Officials said the
operation’s success was made possible
by months of intelligence gathering and by the arrest
last week of Antônio Bonfim Lopes,
the drug lord known as Nem, who was said to have
effectively ruled Rocinha and adjacent
Favela Vidigal on the Two Brothers Mountain and was
known as one of Brazil’s most wanted
and dangerous drug lords.
gangs of Rocinha, Brazil controlled the hillside squatter enclave for 35 years
between the late 1970s and late 2011. This book is
about the unusual street
photography project that for three weeks in the Rio winter of 2011 boldly
documented what that everyday place was like.
Out in the wild of that
extraordinary time; under the leery glare of violent, yet ultimately urbane Rio
gangsters at the pinnacle of the Amigos dos
Amigos dangerous rein at the
height of the favela gangs’ storied and fabled criminal epoch. The pages of this
book document what it was like
at the end of that unique age of territorial
toleration and just before the 85-year Rocinha squatter experiment became less
and less community
inventive and more and more just like any place else.
What this unlikely, peculiar and most surprisingly content of places was like
pacification took hold - - - just before the tanks moved in from
the asphalt below and the criminal element went underground; just before the
criminal justice system and global TV cameras moved in; and just as Brazil was
expressing its global leadership in the
Twenty First Century in so many
different ways at once...