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On air: Is this the best way to deal with drug problems?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 13:55 UK time, Friday, 26 November 2010


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 26 November 2010. Listen to the programme.

After five days of violence and at least 23 deaths, Brazilian police have now taken control of the Vila Cruzeiro slum in Rio from drug gangs.

The authorities are trying to clean up the city by seizing the slums or Favelas from dealers as it prepares to stage the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. So far more than 150 people have been arrested in raids.

The city of 6 million has high crime and murder rates. Heavily armed drug trafficking gangs control many of Rio's poor areas, making the city among the most violent in Latin America.

This Brazilian blogger Danielle says

"Police have been criticised by human rights groups for too often using lethal force without justification in Brazil's favelas and many of the poorest communities came to fear those who were meant to protect them.

The introduction of Police Pacification Units (UPPs) in Rio two years ago has seen the first sustained attempt to break this cycle, enforce the rule of law in favelas and win the hearts and minds of the next generation."

Is this the right way to tackle the problem? Is it better to do something, rather than nothing? Or does this approach fail to tackle the heart of the problem and just move it to a different area?

In an interview with local radio, Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes, said,

"These are terrorist actions that seek to corner the authorities … We will not retreat one millimetre. Rio is on the right path in terms of public security."

Reports from Rio say that many of the gunmen from the drug gangs fled into nearby shantytowns. So will this be the start of a battle the police can never win? Is it a fight worth starting?

If you're in an area affected by drugs or crime, would you welcome your police forces taking this action? What is the best way to deal with drug problems?

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