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Surveillance cameras in the favelas (4): more from the other side

October 22, 2009

The mainstream Bazilian media outlet, O Globo, is reporting that Fabiano Atanázio da Silva (AKA ‘FB’ or ‘Urubu’), allegedly a leader of the Amigos dos Amigos (‘Friends of Friends’) on Morro de Macaros, who recently tried  to take control of the neighbouring favela, Morro São João, resulting in many deaths and even bringing down a police helicopter, had also installed a video surveillance system in his favela, which monitored the entrances of the favela and watched the movements of police and residents. So, it seems that it is clearly the traficante gangs who were first to install CCTV in the favelas of Rio for the purposes of helping to maintain a violent authority over the local area. The form of surveillance is what Bruno Latour perceptively called ‘oligoptic’ – a spatially limited vision but one which is very powerful within its limits. And of course, given the massive extent of private security and both legal and illegal surveillance equipment available in Brazil, it’s hardly surprising that gangs with disposable cash would invest in security like this. However, what is particularly interesting is that by doing the same thing and installing a video surveillance system in Santa Marta against the wishes of the local community, the military police are seen as effectively operating like a gang. This isn’t such a startling statement and was one which was quite frequently put to us by community representatives who we interviewed in the favelas of Rio earlier this year.

(thanks, again, to the invaluable Paola Barreto Leblanc for the information).

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