The Economist’s coverage of Complexo do Alemao comes after two earlier pieces in 2010 on Brazilian peace-keeping. The fighting in Alemao would be familiar to US Marines who served in Ramadi or other places in Al Anbar, Iraq, or in Helmand, Afghanistan. The parallels between what the Americans call COIN (short for counterinsurgency) and the Brazilians call peacekeeping should be noted because of the potential to work together in Latin America or Africa. The so-called UPP’s (see below) are the same as what the Americans call Combined Action Platoons (CAPs) (see Bing West, The Village, or West’s other books). In a week when Koreans killed 4 Koreans with artillery barrages, the body count of 37 a sub-way ride away from Petrobras’ headquarters and the site of future Olympic games may attract unwanted attention; yet, in 1992, the Los Angeles Rodney King riots caused the Los Angeles Police Department to call in the federal United States Marine Corps from nearby bases to maintain order. One hopes the work is done by the opening ceremonies in 5 years.
“Many cariocas, as residents of Rio are known, saw these events as a turning point for a city which has suffered decades of misgovernment. Mr Cabral, who recently won a second term, has set out to provide proper policing in the favelas. Since 2008 the state government has set up police stations known as UPPs (“Pacifying Police Units”) in 13 favelas, covering 200,000 people; another 27 are planned by 2014.”