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Police units invade Rio's biggest slum in a 'Shock of Peace'

In a previous PhotoBlog post Katie Cannon pointed out how pretty this area is. I’m glad that drug gangs aren’t putting up a fight. I hope the police units are well funded, and that this is just the beginning of a permanent police presence. I’m concerned that this effort might just be for show to placate those who are worried about security as Rio prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games. It’s one thing to take ground. It’s another to keep it.

Silvia Izquierdo / AP

Brazilian armored vehicles move into Rocinha shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Nov. 13, 2011. Elite police units, backed by armored military vehicles and helicopters, invaded Rio de Janeiro's biggest slum in what experts say is the most important step yet in bringing security to Rio de Janeiro before it hosts the final matches of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. About 100,000 people live in Rocinha, the biggest drug distribution point in Rio.

Msnbc.com news services report

One resident applauded the move. "Tell the world we're not all drug traffickers! We're working people and now they're coming to liberate us," a man yelled as police rolled by.

Marisa Costa da Silva, 54, who runs a small candy shop at the base of the slum, was less sure. "Lord knows if there will be war or peace, or even if things will be better if police take this slum," she said. "We've heard they've been abusive to slum residents in other places they've taken. I have no idea what to expect." Read more

Luiza Castro / AFP - Getty Images

(Left) A paramilitary police helicopter flies over Rocinha on Sunday. Security forces peacefully seized control of Rio's largest shantytown in a major assault to expel drug traffickers who had been ruling the area for 30 years.
(Right) Police commandos patrol a street of the Rocinha shantytown in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

A policeman patrols the Rocinha slum while a boy holds a dog at the door of his house.

Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

A woman walks with her child in Rocinha slum, Nov. 14, 2011, after police units seized control of the shantytown. Officials say that peacekeeping units will be installed to keep drug gangs out.