Safety in parts of Rio are a real issue, but any incident when it is under spotlight gets amplified more than it is worth. This might be one of those instances.
A German tourist was shot and seriously wounded in the stomach on Friday in one of Brazil’s largest slums, where drug traffickers still control areas despite a crackdown in 2011.
Frank Daniel Benjamin, 25, was shot in an alley of the poorest section of the Rocinha slum on Rio de Janeiro’s south side, a police statement said. A local resident picked him off the ground and carried him to a police unit from where he was rushed to hospital with a serious wound to the liver.
The shooting added to a recent wave of violence that has hit visitors to Rio, including the brutal kidnapping and rape of an American tourist that shocked the tourist trade.
The violence just weeks before Rio hosts soccer games in a warm-up for the 2014 World Cup has raised alarm over the city’s ability to control crime and ensure the safety of visitors in a city that will also hold the Olympic games in 2016.
In July, hundreds of thousands of Catholics are expected to descend on Rio to see Pope Francis on his first trip abroad as pontiff.
The recent violence has raised questions about the effectiveness of efforts to “pacify” Rio’s large slums by sending in troops and police to dismantle drug-trafficking rings.
The Rocinha slum, part of a shanty town perched on steep hillsides, was “pacified” in November 2011 and now attracts visits by foreign tourists on guided tours.
The German tourist, however, was shot in the poorest part of the slum known as “Dirty Clothes,” where drug traffickers still rule a maze of back alleys that are hard to patrol and tourists normally do not visit, a police source told Reuters.
A friend who was with the wounded man told police they were surprised in an alley by an armed man who shot at them when they ran off.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by David Brunnstrom)
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Photo credit: A policeman patrols the Rocinha slum during an operation against drug dealers in Rio de Janeiro. Ricardo Moraes / Reuters