A Private War Among Brothers
Police and Drug Traffickers in Rio De Janeiro are born into the same poverty, they are often raised together, share the same neighborhoods, frequent the same parties, and even in several cases are either friends or family members. They are fighting a war against each other fueled by drugs and a lack of government support and basic services inside the poor favela communities of Rio. Many police officers born in and who continue to live inside the favela, often do so because they cannot afford to move out into a better neighborhood. With very low wages almost 95% of Military and Civil Police officers of Rio hold second or sometimes even third jobs to support their families and many live in violent neighborhoods, sometimes even controlled by drug lords. This lack of compensation creates an easy environment as well as a tolerance for corruption and police involvement in drug trafficking. Brazilian police officers, specifically in Rio De Janeiro have a long history of brutality and corruption yet very rarely has the reality of this violent war been revealed. Police intervention within favelas is limited to violent operations carried out in war flanked tanks and heavy machine guns. As a result the drug lords have taken it upon themselves to provide a sense of protection and authority for the people living inside the favela communities. They see themselves as vigilantes of their people, giving medicine to young single mothers who cannot afford it as well as litigating domestic disputes. Both police and drug traffickers come from environments that have offered them very little by way of opportunity and have found themselves on opposite sides of the fence in an escalating gun battle that has taken the lives of thousands of young boys and men in the past 20 years and continues with no end in site.