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Nem’s arrest was followed swiftly by what the authorities termed the “pacification” of Rocinha – part of a wider crackdown on crime and drug‑dealing in the favelas, originally launched in 2008 but stepped up significantly in advance of the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup, both held in Brazil. As many as 1,000 troops moved into Rocinha before daybreak, the use of armoured personnel carriers only confirming the sense that this was in many ways an army of occupation. Once the military police had established control, pacifying police units (UPPs) moved in, supposedly to pave the way for social programmes – the Brazilian government apparently aware that any attempt to deal with the drug gangs would have to have a positive component, offering the residents at least some of the many basics the state has thus far failed to provide. But, as Glenny points out, in Rocinha and in other favelas, pacification has all too often involved the continuing extortion, abduction and killing of residents by the police. An August 2015 Amnesty International report calculated that since 2010, one in six homicides in Rio has been committed by on-duty police officers; three-quarters of these victims have been black men aged between 15 and 29.

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