Sunday, January 7, 2018

A once-trendy Rio slum is now ‘at war’

By Washington Post, Jan. 05, 2018

RIO DE JANEIRO — High on a hill in South America’s largest slum, Samantha Almeida startled at the latest volley of gunfire. It was close. Too close. She knew she had to get her girls moving.

The shootout had woken them an hour before. Killings in Rocinha, once the showcase shantytown in Brazil’s showcase city, had quadrupled in less than a year. In recent weeks, it had taken on the feel of a war zone as drug traffickers battled with police.

Suddenly the bullets were buzzing just above the roof. The family members had started sleeping in one room because they felt safer together, and Samantha, a 33-year old who sold coffee in a park, had drilled her girls on an escape plan. When she gave the sign, they would move fast, keeping low, to a windowless, bunkerlike terrace.

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