Brazil: Police War Operation Kills 25 in Rio de Janeiro Favela

By David Martinez

An operation of war by Brazilian police in the Jacarezinho favela in Rio de Janeiro has resulted in the deaths of 25 people and many more injured. With the excuse of conducting a drug raid, 200 police officers entered the favela around 6 a.m. on the morning of May 6 with armored cars and helicopter support and began shooting wildly. The death toll represents the highest number of dead in a single police operation in the history of Rio de Janeiro.

The police shot into homes and forcefully entered residences, allegedly in pursuit of drug traffickers. Some residents reported that police executed a wounded and unarmed man in a young girl’s bedroom. Two people in a passing metro were shot by stray bullets as the train car passed through, bringing transportation in the area to a halt.

One resident stated, “I think [the police] think they are in Iraq.” During the operation, police were confiscating the phones of favela residents and accusing them of warning drug dealers of the police incursion. Residents began to protest in the area after the shootout had ended.

One deceased young man was found sitting in a chair, with his finger placed in his mouth. Lawyers with human rights organizations suspect that it was officers themselves who desecrated the body. Bloody and disfigured corpses were strewn throughout the streets of the favela following the assault, after which residents spent the remainder of the day demanding answers and checking on their loved ones. Video on social media shows some residents pouring buckets of water onto the pavement in order to wash the blood from the streets.

According to the Old Brazilian State’s own judicial decree, operations such as these are prohibited during the pandemic, but this did not stop the criminal police and their masters from launching the operation on the flimsy pretext of preventing the recruitment of children to the drug trade. Commentators have pointed out the absurdity of this motive, in that the minors’ recruitment for drug trafficking is already well-known.


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