Brazil’s main opposition party demanded responsibility from President Lula da Silva in combating the wave of violence rocking Rio do Janeiro and which has left at least 35 killed in shootings with the drugs’ gangs that even downed a police helicopter.
“The government’s security policy is a joke; what’s the use of sending another helicopter”, which was shot down last Saturday in Rio’s shanty towns (favelas) said Jose Anibal, head of the powerful Social-democrats block in the Lower House.
The helicopter was gunned and crashed landed, killing three police sharp shooters, only two kilometres away from the Maracaná stadium where the main competitions of the 2016 Olympics are scheduled to take place.
President Lula da Silva promised funds and a new armoured helicopter so the Rio police can continue with its deployments in the high risk areas of the city.
Jose Anibal argued that the role of the federal government is not supplying arms and funds but rather taking head on the responsibility of combating drug related crime which is rampant and apparently out of control in Brazil’s most famous city for its beaches and Carnival festivities.
Justice Minister Tarso Genro has been summoned to Congress to inform what is happening in Rio do Janeiro and the government’s plans to address the situation.
Meantime the president of the Federal Supreme Tribunal Gilmar Mendez reiterated that it was imperative to send the Armed Forces to help combat crime and lawlessness.
“The Federal Police and eventually the Armed Forces must articulate and act” against the organized gangs of drug dealers that dominate Rio communities and terrorize the good law abiding citizens, said the country’s top judge.
The participation of the Armed Forces in internal security affairs is specifically banded under Brazilian legislation, however under “exceptional circumstances” they can be ordered to take action.
Thousands of police and special forces have been sent to the favelas where the gang shootings took place over the weekend. Police is determined to find those responsible for shooting down the helicopter and recovering the weapons used in the attack.
Most high calibre guns and short range rockets are smuggled into Brazil from neighbouring Paraguay and Bolivia.