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Pacified Favela

Daily Life, Honorable Mention prize stories

May 18, 2012

Youths play on a football field built under a pacification program, in La Mineira favela, Rio de Janeiro.

The favelas (slum quarters) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—many just a street away from rich neighborhoods—have for decades been no-go areas ruled by drug lords and vigilante militia.

With the football World Cup coming to Rio in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016, authorities have made a concerted effort to clean up the favelas. The Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (‘Pacifying Police Unit’, or UPP) was set up in 2009 to see this through.

The approach is twofold. The first stage, UPP Policing, sees elite forces storming a favela and establishing a permanent police presence there. Then UPP Social is supposed to follow up with an improvement of services and infrastructure, such as in education and electricity supply.

The initiative has met with partial success. Police units have been established—often for the very first time—in a number of communities, with positive results. But critics say that the UPP has concentrated on favelas closest to rich areas, that the social follow-up has not been effective, and that a true tackling of the problems in favelas needs a broader approach to the reduction of poverty.

Commissioned by: for De Standaard

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Photo Credit: Frederik Buyckx

Frederik Buyckx was born in 1984 in Antwerp, Belgium.

He received a master’s degree in advertising design at Sint-Lucas Antwerp in 2007. He has been studying photography since 2008 at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium.

In addition to his personal projects, he has worked for National Geographic Magazine and the Belgian Newspaper De Standaard.


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