Friday, December 13, 2013

See you lying there, like a lilo losing air

A visible police presence is far from rare in Rio, but I was alarmed on a recent visit by the sheer number and belligerence of the community policing in the areas more popular with tourists. There is a fine line between shows of force and outright intimidation of law-abiding citizens. Combined with the clack-clacking of the military helicopters overhead, it was a scene that would not have been out of place in Mogadishu.

Along the beaches of Zona Sul (which include Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon) groups of five or six officers at a time - usually armed - are now a permanent fixture, patrolling the sands every fifty metres or so. The reason - it was explained to me - was the spate of mass robberies (or arrastões as they are known here) that took place recently. 

They are quite a phenomenon to behold: a busload (or two) of kids and young adults will arrive from another part of town, and then work their way down the beach systematically robbing everyone until the police realise what’s going on, upon which they disperse. 

For the favela kids, it’s like taking candy from a baby. I don’t want to make light of criminality or a frightening assault, but surely tourists know by now not to take their iPads (and such like) to the beach. 



A sort of murmuration of muggers.

1 comment:

Ania said...

great comparison and it made me think of this song/lyrics:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDTa7yyGgLk

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