Bullets rather than samba in Rio!

Violence in Rio is a major problem, especially if you are an innocent bystander at the wrong place at the wrong time.  This is a report by Sebastian Smith:

While the fighting in Rio de Janeiro's crime war is done by commando-style police and heavily armed drug traffickers, a growing number of the victims look quite different: innocent, joyful children like Maria Eduarda.

Firefights erupt in densely packed, poor favela neighborhoods, leaving thousands of people with nowhere to hide each time the shooting, involving Kalashnikovs and other military grade rifles, begins.

AFP has investigated the stories of those caught in the middle, like 13-year-old schoolgirl Maria Eduarda, in a new multimedia report: "Stray Bullets: violence and broken lives in Rio."

With around 60,000 murders a year, Brazil is among the world's most dangerous countries. 

Rio, host of the 2016 Olympics, has long been one of the hotspots.

But as AFP's investigation highlights, stray bullet incidents add a cruel twist to the wider crisis.

People are shot outside church, in parks or in restaurants, in daytime or at night. Since the cheap construction of favela houses will not necessarily stop a bullet, even staying at home can be dangerous.

As Mr. Smith points out, victims of stray bullets often go unreported.  Nevertheless, 60,000 murders is a mammoth number.

Rio de Janeiro has a population of 6.5 million, second to São Paulo.  It is also the sixth largest city in the Americas. 

Not long ago, a Brazilian friend introduced me to the Rio Times, an English newspaper.  My friend said the reporting on crime stories would shock me, and it did.  For example, a story from this week tells us that 126 police officers have already been killed this year.

The violence in Rio has had a major consequence in state prisons, where gangs are constantly at war with each other.  Just recently, the federal government sent troops to control the violence in many of the worst prisons in the world.  As my local friend told me recently, they kill each other in Rio or at the state prisons!

Very bad for Rio, a city once known for samba rather than stray bullets!

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