Drug Gangs in Brazil Impose Curfew To Aid Coronavirus Fight

Drug trafficking gang members in one of Brazil’s best known favelas have set up a curfew to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Red Command or Comando Vermelho , who control the Cidade de Deus ‘City of God’ favela in Rio de Janeiro are ordering the 40,000 residents to stay indoors after 8pm. This comes as fears grow for the health of some of the poorest people in Brazil.

The community was made famous in 2002 by directors Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund in the movie City of God. It follows the fortunes of two young men with different aspirations in the poverty-stricken favela during the 1970s.

These gangsters are not the only outlaws attempting to stem the threat of coronavirus in Rio’s densely populated favelas, which are home to around 2 million of the city’s 7 million residents. In the Morro dos Prazeres, gang members have told residents that they must only meet in groups of two, while in Rocinha, one of Latin America’s biggest favelas, traffickers have also ordered a curfew.

“The gangsters have said that after 8.30pm everybody must stay indoors and if they don’t there will be reprisals,” said a street hawker who lives there. “I’m staying at home – filled with fear and smothered in hand sanitizer,” the man joked.

“The traffickers are doing this because the government is absent. The authorities are blind to us,” one resident told the Guardian.

A banner in  Cidade de Deus (City of God) favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Photo credit: Mauro Pimentel/AFP

According to Brazilian newspaper Extra, the traffickers circulated through the favela with a loudspeaker.

”I come here at the request of the directors of areas 15, 13, AP and Karate. We will do a curfew because no one is taking it seriously. Anyone who is on the street will receive a punishment and will be an example. It is better stay at home and chill. The message has already been given “, said the recorded message (approximate translation from the original Portuguese).

In Rocinha, where there is a suspected coronavirus case, residents received messages via messaging apps last week prohibiting movement in the favela after 8pm. “Whoever is caught on the street will learn to respect others”. 

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