Category Archives: Demotix

What a police-occupied favela looks like

My images, of UPP police in Chapeu Mangueira and Babilonia favelas, from June 2011. AFP story from this weekend.

Sgt. Vagner Luis de Assis of the UPP (Brazilian Pacification Police Units) stands in front of a graffiti-painted wall in Rio de Janeiro’s Chapeu Mangueira favela.


UPP police interact with the community at a recreational spot in the Chapeu Mangueira favela, Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian marines and paramilitary police stormed one of Rio’s most notorious shantytowns Sunday, as the city cleans up ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

It took just 20 minutes for the security forces to take over the Manguinhos slum in the predawn raid involving 1,300 police assisted by helicopters hovering overhead, and armored personnel carriers carrying 170 marines that plowed through road obstacles set up in the narrow streets.

No shots were fired, but three people were arrested. Police said that five alleged drug crime bosses that had fled to a nearby favela were killed on Saturday.

Authorities said they had seize 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of cocaine in the raid.

Police also increased their presence in Jacarezinho, a nearby favela and a major crack cocaine consumption center. Some 1,300 heavily armed police participated in the operations, officials said. More >


PHOTOS: Global Voices/Brazil: Deeper Media Coverage of Belo Monte Dam Needed

Protesters against the Belo Monte dam, Altamira. (Photo by Karen Hoffmann, 19/08/2011)

About 150 families from neighborhoods that will be flooded by the construction of the Belo Monte dam were violently evicted by police in Altamira, Brazil. (Photo by Karen Hoffmann, 17/06/2011)

(Text by Priscila Kesselring, translated by Sara Moreira)

A lot of information is shared everyday around the world about controversy surrounding the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric powerplant in the Amazon. At the same time, however, it is unclear how well circulated the concerns of those to be directly affected – the river-dwellers, ‘caboclos‘ and indigenous peoples – by what some have labeled ‘pharaonic’ construction work.

For Verena Glass, journalist and communications coordinator for the social and environmentalist collective Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre, “Belo Monte is not a matter for Brazilians only, as it deals with human rights violations”.

In April 2011, after several traditional communities complained to the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Commission on Human Right (IACHR) asked the Brazilian government to immediately suspend the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project in order to safeguard indigenous rights. Since then, mainstream media has started giving more attention to the coverage of the events related to Belo Monte.

More at Global Voices >

Gingrich calls Obama ‘Food Stamp President’ at South Florida stop

After three hours of waiting in the sun, supporters of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich were relieved to hear the piped-in sound of swelling strings, signalling something was finally about to happen.

Then the music stopped, and still no Newt.

“I was expecting him to rise up!” says one man.

“Yeah, pop out of a cake or somethin’!” a woman says.

The strings began again, and this time a giant Gingrich visage slowly rolls into view. His bus has arrived.

Gingrich begins with comments on last night’s State of the Union address by President Obama. He says the president wants to double capital gains tax, which would “kill job creation in the United States.”

One woman shouts at him about Freddie Mac. According to an agreement released to the media last night, Gingrich began receiving payments from the mortgage giant in 1999 under a contract that paid his consulting business $25,000 a month to work with Freddie Mac’s chief lobbyist.

Gingrich responded, “The only record of my talking to Congress about Freddie Mac — you can look it up in the New York Times — I was opposed to giving them more money.” The crowd cheers.

More protesting shouts from the woman, drowned out by chants of “Newt! Newt! Newt!”

He makes a reference to the “noisy Left.” A man near me says “Someone slug ‘er in the mouth!”

Newt is more diplomatic, saying, “We’re not gonna let HER disrupt us from having a rational conversation.”

He takes a shot at Romney: “Governor Romney has an enormous amount of money, but if you look around here, we have an enormous amount of people.”

“I believe people power beats money power every time in the United States of America.”

Then he goes on to preach the virtues of unchecked capitalism.

If Newt is the nominee, he says, he will challenge the President to seven three-hour debates. “I will accept the President using a teleprompter,” he says. “If you had to defend Obamacare, you’d want a teleprompter too.”

More shouting. He lets it go on and then finally says “You guys are cruel!”

Gingrich spoke of his history “helping to develop supply-side economics” in the 1980s, creating 16 million jobs in the 1980s, 11 million in the 90s, and reforming welfare, which he called “the biggest entitlement reform of your lifetime.”

He called Obama “the best food stamp president in American history” and referred to himself “the paycheck candidate.”

Gingrich derided “Saul Alinsky European left-wing intellectual radicalism” and said, if he wins the GOP nomination, he’ll be “the American candidate.”

Callista Gingrich, wife of GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, signs a box of Girl Scout cookies. Some conservative groups have called for a boycott of the cookies, citing the organization's pro-choice and pro-GLBT record.

He said he would make domestic energy a priority. “We want an American energy program, because never again should any American president bow to a Saudi king.”

Though the event was held at Wings Plus restaurant, long a favorite of GOP candidates, Gingrich did not enter the facility nor partake of any chicken wings.

// More photos at Demotix >

Ronaldinho’s team gets warm Bahian welcome

(Can you spot THE soccer player?)

Hundreds of Salvadorans turned out to welcome Flamengo, football team of thefamous Ronaldinho, to their city.

At about 5:30 this afternoon, the team were greeted with cheers and nonstop singing and drumming from red-and-black fans in the lobby of Salvador International Airport.

About 40 Military Police and the security team of the club had some trouble keeping the crowd in line. But there was no malice — the crowd hugged, took photos like mad, and requested autographs from the players.

Ronaldinho was the first to embark. In dark shades and a hat, he smiled and waved to the fans.

As the bus left for the team’s hotel, the melee didn’t let up for a moment. Fans continued to sing and jump up and down until the bus was well out of sight.

Flamengo will play Bahia on Sunday at Brasilerao stadium. (More >)

Election Day, Bogota

Ubiquitous popsicles

The people of Bogota turned out to vote for Colombia’s congressional elections today. Seats are being fought for in both houses of congress. It was the most peaceful election in recent memory. More >

And more photos in my Flickr set

Looking at the list of voter tables

Bogota bus strike brings city to a standstill

Packed Bogota TransMilenio

Bogota bus drivers called a strike today. In the afternoon, commuters tried fruitlessly to get home, many trying to hitchhike, as traffic snarled the roads and the remaining taxis and cars could only crawl. The strike was called by the Association of Small Transporters after they couldn’t come to an agreement with the Bogota mayor’s office. The disagreement stems from what the government is charging for new buses. More >