Not a shot was fired as the Mare complex of 15 slums became the latest impoverished area to see security forces invade in an effort to push out heavily armed drug gangs that have ruled Rio’s shantytowns for decades.
In the coming days, soldiers will begin patrolling the virtually treeless, flat area of about 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) in northern Rio that hugs the main road to the airport and is home to about 130,000 people. Security forces will eventually set up permanent posts in Mare as part of the “pacification” programme that began in 2008 and is meant to secure Rio ahead of the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Police have installed 37 such posts in recent years in an area covering 1.5m people. Yesterday’s operation comes at a critical time for the security effort. In recent months, gangs have brazenly attacked police outposts in other shantytowns on orders from imprisoned gang leaders who want to stymie the spread of “pacified” slums.
With each area police occupy, gangs lose valuable territory for the manufacture and sale of drugs.
Brazilian authorities say the initial investigation into the accident that killed a worker at the stadium that will host the World Cup opener in a few months showed he likely wasn’t wearing a required safety cable.
The worker died on Saturday after falling about 8m while helping install temporary seats at the Itaquerao stadium, marking the seventh death in accidents at World Cup venues in Brazil.
The police official in charge of investigating the accident said initial witness accounts showed Fabio Hamilton da Cruz was not connected to his safety cable because he only had a “quick thing” to finish at the site.
“The informal hearings that I made with employees who were next to the victim at the time of the fall show that he neglected to use the security equipment,” Inspector Rafael Pavarina told SNTV.
“By the time he broke free of the safety cable, he was alerted by his colleagues, ‘Connect yourself to the safety cable’, and he replied, ‘It’s a quick thing’.”
The 23-year-old sustained multiple traumas and severe head injuries. He was pronounced dead just before he was expected to undergo surgery.
Construction company Fast Engenharia, in charge of the installation of the temporary seats, said in statements released after the accident that the worker was “trained” and “carried all the required safety equipment” for his work.
“It seems that it was not a lack of equipment,” Pavarina said. “Apparently he was a victim of his own negligence.”
It was the third workers’ death at the Itaquerao stadium, which will open the World Cup on June 12.