The use of armored helicopters as a shooting platform in the favelas has been usual since the hard line governor took office. There were 34 this year. Deaths from police action rose 46%
The "wonderful city" has been living in a police state since Rio's new governor, Wilson Witzel, took office on January 1st this year. In six months, police actions became more frequent than at the time when the city was in military intervention and the pattern also changed: seeing Rio police firing from helicopters over favelas (poor neighborhoods) became routine. A routine of terror.
According to the State of S. Paulo newspaper, in the first half of this year, 120 people were killed by the security forces in Rio de Janeiro; 82 had died in the same period last year, which represents an increase of 46%. The data are from the Security Observatory of Cândido Mendes University.
The governor of Rio, coming from the extreme right and supporter of a hard line of security, ordered the Rio police (civil and military) to "shoot down" anyone armed with machine guns. The use of armored helicopters (called aerial "caveirões") as a firing platform became popular in the operations in the favelas. There were 34 in the first semester.
They are called "aerial caveirões" because the armored car of the Special Police Operations Battallion of the Military Police of the State of Rio de Janeiro is known in the slang as "caveirão" for being black and having the symbol of death stamped in the doors. The Special Police Operations Battallion was popularized by the films Elite Squad.
"What we have seen in the first months of 2019 is that, under the command of the Witzel government, police operations have changed their pattern," said researcher Pablo Nunes to the State of São Paulo. "Data from the Security Observatory show that they are more frequent and more lethal. We find that the populations of the communities are increasingly terrified."
And he concludes: "The state government has released each of the police to set the goals they want and pursue them as they see fit. This has not been good for Rio."