The drug gangs and militia gangs that control some of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro fear the spread of COVID-19 and that is why they have decreed a curfew at night in their neighborhoods, according to the account of some of its inhabitants.
The “invisible enemy” that has already infected more than 2,200 Brazilians threatens to affect their businesses, scare away customers, knock down their kingdoms and put the lives of millions of people living in the suburbs of the Brazilian city at risk.
Accustomed to enforcing their rules by force among the inhabitants of the favelas they dominate, narcos and militiamen (paramilitary groups made up of police and ex-police) now use their power to impose a curfew in some communities starting at 8:00 p.m. local time.
Inhabitants of some favelas of the “wonderful city”, who asked not to be identified, confirmed to Efe that the messages alerting about the restrictive measure began to circulate on social networks since the weekend and that people are “picking up” early to avoid problems.
Jacarepagua, Cidade de Deus, Río das Pedras, Guaratiba, Rocinha and Maré are some of the favelas where these events have been recorded.
“In all the favelas they are making a curfew. Several messages have come to my WhatsApp,” said one of the sources.
“Here after 7:30 at night you don’t see a soul,” said another.
The events began to echo on social networks where some residents published photographs showing the early desolation of the streets in communities such as that of Cidade de Deus (west) and even videos of cars with alarms and loudspeakers asking people to comply with the order. .
“Attention all the inhabitants of Río das Pedras, Muzema and Tijuquinha !!! Curfew starting today at 8:00 p.m. Whoever is seen on the street outside these hours will learn to respect others! “Order one of the messages released in an area where the militias have influence.
The Rio de Janeiro authorities, for their part, determined the closure of the shops and only allow supermarkets and pharmacies to operate throughout the city.
Bars and restaurants can only operate at home and the restriction of public transport has also been notorious, especially to control the entry of inhabitants of neighboring municipalities to the “wonderful city”.
Unlike Sao Paulo, the largest and most populous city in Brazil, with 12 million inhabitants, Rio did not implement a quarantine period, but did recommend its inhabitants to stay at home, suspended classes in public schools and universities, and ordered the closure of parks, theaters, movie theaters and tourist sites.
CORONAVIRUSES IN FAVELAS: A TIME PUMP
The actions of the outlaw groups stem from fears that the coronavirus will spread rapidly in favelas, narrow-street communities and small houses, where overcrowding prevails and essential services such as water are scarce.
The spread of the pandemic in these communities would bring a noticeable drop in the businesses of the drug trafficking groups and the markets that control the militias in the communities, but it could also send them to isolation and in the worst case, make them require hospital care, a luxury that cannot be given due to its clandestine condition.
In Rio de Janeiro, about 1.4 million people reside in favelas, that is, 22.03% of the city’s 6.3 million inhabitants.
Most share tiny residences between four and five people, which would quickly spread the disease among its residents.
So far, a single case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Cidade de Deus, where some 36,500 people live, but more than 60 are under study, according to the city’s health authorities.
GOVERNMENT OPPOSES CONFINEMENT
Although regional governments insist that the population remain safeguarded to prevent a further spread of COVID-19, the President of Brazil, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, has insisted that the country “cannot stop” and demanded that the confinement measures social are restricted to the elderly and sick, amid criticism from almost all political sectors.
According to the president, radical measures – such as quarantine – must be avoided because it is necessary to keep the Brazilian economy afloat and preserve jobs.
Therefore, Bolsonaro defended confinement only for those people over 60 years of age or with health problems, considered as risk groups, and minimized the consequences of the virus, which has already left at least 46 dead and 2,201 cases.