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"Uprising in Favela Violence"

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It’s exactly 6.15 am. This morning I had an unfamiliar wake-up call, a loud rumble that instead of being above my head seemed right on top of my house. It was the famous besourão. ‘Besourão?’, you ask. That’s the nickname that we give to the police helicopter, which when it comes very early in the morning opens fire on the communities. Soon after I also hear the strange sounds of the caveirão. ‘Caveirão?’, you ask. Yes, that’s what we call the huge armored vans that the police send in that are like tanks.

Then the noise of firecrackers start, the way in which the drug traffickers, the soldados, tell each other that there are a whole load of police in the favela. It could perhaps seem like the start of a surprise party, but no: it’s a police operation to arrest or kill the soldados.

However a lot of the time many of those who are arrested or, worse, killed are good people who at that time are going out to work and are mistaken for being a soldado. Soon after, an immense and never-ending gunfight starts up with weapons of all types and calibers.

This part is the worst of the worst, as the bullets from the guns go in every which direction and sometimes happen to stop deep in the body of an innocent person. It gets worse as the majority of times it’s the innocent body of a child who has awoken early to play in the yard, or to go to school, and sometimes they even get hit right in their own home.

Most of the time, this exchange of gunfire does not have a set time to end, but it always starts around the same time. In every community it starts at 6am with no set time for it to end. I am terrified that something might happen to my family.

The sensation that I have is that it is us, the poor, who suffer from discrimination. My impression is that they want us to think that their orders are to enter the communities and get rid of the people who make our city dirty.

Unfortunately we do have bad types in the communities, but the well-to-do or the high classes are the worse bandits, taking from people who have nothing. Yet the police never go to the luxury apartment blocks or the mansions at six in the morning with all that uproar; instead they send a smartly-dressed justice official to give them an invitation to the station.

By the way in which I tell this story, it seems unlikely that I am referring to a neighborhood that is noble and world-renowned for its charm and beauty, Santa Teresa. But it is not just in my neighborhood that there are communities of favelas, but all over the Cidade Maravilhosa, Rio de Janeiro. Every day we know that innocent children or well-to-do citizens are laid out on the ground, be it in their own home or on the street, with a bullet that was not meant for them.

Although we have men who love war, we have a God who loves peace.

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Gemma's picture

Ivaldete: As I read your

Ivaldete: As I read your post from my office in the United States, I can hear the sounds you write of and I am gripped by fear for you and your family. Your writing is descriptive and real - it brings the reader to your experience and allows them to empathize with what you are witnessing.

As to the content, my prayers will be with you and your family. It is important to put our faith in the plan that God has for each of us. I will hold you in my heart as a beacon of peace.

Gemma

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