Brazil Army Occupies Shantytowns, Fights Violence Ahead Of World Cup
The Brazilian Armed Forces "occupied a massive compound of slums north of Rio de Janeiro early on Saturday without firing a shot, securing a focal point of violent crime" two months ahead of the World Cup, according to Rodrigo Viga Gaier of REUTERS. Wresting control of the area from drug gangs "was a priority for authorities" because it surrounds the expressway to the Galeão Int'l Airport, where tens of thousands of fans will land in June for the World Cup. Rio de Janeiro state authorities "requested the occupation after a spree of attacks against police in the area." About 2,050 army troops and 450 marines in armored cars and helicopters took over the so-called Complexo da Maré, "reinforcing police presence" where 130,000 people live in 15 shantytowns. The troops plan to remain there until July 31, "a little more than two weeks after the end of the World Cup" (REUTERS, 4/5).