On Friday, February 23, 3200 Brazilian soldiers took part in an operation against organized crime in three favelas, Vila Alianca, Coreia, and Vila Kennedy, all located in western Rio de Janeiro. The soldiers have established security perimeters around the shantytowns, made the roads safe to travel, and are working on stabilizing the area.
Confrontations between security forces and local gangs are likely in the coming days and weeks. In addition, heightened security measures and consequent transportation disruptions are expected in Rio's favelas and surrounding areas in the coming weeks as Brazilian military and police forces continue to conduct raids as part of a wider security push. The regional Security Secretariat warned that airspace in the area could eventually be off-limits for civilian aircraft, but claimed this would not affect flights at either Santos Dumont Airport or Rio de Janeiro-Galeao International Airport.
Rio de Janeiro has been suffering from rising violence since 2016. Almost 500 shootings occurred in January 2018 alone in the city. This phenomenon is largely attributed to fighting between heavily armed security forces and criminal gangs in Rio's favelas. Major protests broke out on February 6 after a child was killed by a stray bullet during a police operation. On Tuesday, February 20, the Brazilian Senate approved a presidential decree granting the Brazilian Armed Forces special powers and control over law enforcement in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Individuals in Rio are advised to avoid any areas where security operations are taking place, to avoid all favelas more generally due to chronically high rates of violent crime, and to adhere to any instructions issued by security forces.
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