Day 519: Violence Begets Violence

The Brazilian government has deployed forces to one of Rio de Janeiro's largest slums - in a clean-up operation which aims to reduce crime in the city ahead of the World Cup.

Federal forces are here pictured entering the violence-plagued Complexo da Mare - one of Brazil's biggest slums - 'favelas' in Portuguese.

These pictures show troops storming the favela bearing guns in bullet-proof vehicles while a helicopter circles above.

The faces of the 130,000 residents who live on the Mare complex have also been pictured. Mare is formed of 16 separate communities and has been riddled with drugs and dominated by gangs and militias.

It is close to Rio's international airport, which means that visitors must drive past it on their way into the city.

Senior officials have denied that the Mare clean-up is related to the World Cup - claiming that they aim to improve the lives of Rio favela residents. - Daily Mail

No one can claim that there is an easy solution to the living conditions and mind set in a place like this. Changing the social dynamics and phasing out drug cartels and militias doesn't come and the flick of a wand. What is certain is that sending in a bunch of guys with guns and tanks does not address the cause of the problem in any way, it is rather more likely to escalate conflicts and decrease living standards for those in the slums more.

There is no one cause that you can point to that created the living conditions and social ills in slums. Lack of financial security is certainly one of the larger contributors, maybe the largest. There have been more studies of late linking poverty, lack of education, lack of financial stability and other related "lifestyles" to an increased disposition to criminal activities, drug use, depression, lower IQ and so on. Unfortunately, the reality is that there are so many people who are living in poverty and whose families have lived in poverty for so long now that the consequences have reached far and wide and will be difficult to reverse.

I am not saying that it is impossible. I am also not proposing to know exactly how the problem could be solved in every single case. I am proposing that those people who are in positions that make them capable of  assisting should investigate different approaches instead of opting for tanks and guns. There have been cases where a government creates opportunities and training for people to help themselves which were successful - proof that it is possible.

Why would anyone think that violence, or that the threat of violence would be a viable solution to the consequences of poverty? Sure, there is crime and drugs in "nice neighbourhoods" - but it is far less than in slums. No one should live in those conditions - is it at all surprising that those living conditions have a negative effect on the nature of people? Living in poverty like that gives a person the distinct impression that they are worth nothing, that their society has deemed them as having no worth - this is bound to cause psychological problems at the very least.