When BOPE Invaded My Favela

Favela Dona Marta
View from my kitchen

I live on the edge of Favela Dona Marta, a “pacified” slum where police operations two years ago have removed all drug gangs. There is a police outpost inside the favela and also one right outside, and it’s not uncommon to see them traveling to and from the posts with guns drawn. Once I saw a officer walking alone with a gun in each hand as if he’s seen too many Hollywood action movies, but not once did I hear a single gunshot for the first six weeks I lived there.

One night I was trying to fall asleep around 3am when an explosion went off. It seemed similar to the fireworks that the teenage boys usually set off so I thought little of it and went to sleep.

Six hours later I woke up to the sound of a helicopter circling overhead. I’ve seen helicopters before but it was so close to the ground that it felt like something out of a Vietnam war movie. The blades made a very intimidating and ominous sound, suggesting that any attempt at escape would be impossible. I looked outside my window and saw a black helicopter with the word “Policia” written on the side. It climbed up the hill and then there was a quick burst of gunfire followed by small explosions that created big balls of smoke. Then silence.

On the other side of my window in front of the building there was a tank with the BOPE insignia and fifty officers mingling nearby with their M-16 rifles. BOPE is the elite special forces of Rio that is basically a war arm of the police. They get called for special protection missions and also to extract suspected gang members. They’re so efficient at killing people, including innocents, that human rights organizations have complained about their “shoot first, ask questions later” policy and alleged use of torture during interrogations. Basically if BOPE gets called there will be loss of human life.

A plains-clothes man with shorts and a wife beater seemed to be directing the officers. He had a walkie-talkie in his hand. Maybe an informant? Then the helicopter began firing again. The soldiers started up the tank, made a terrifying war cry, and started running up the hill behind it. The helicopter continued to circle overhead. Here’s the exciting footage I managed to catch before I hid in my closet and curled into a fetal position:

The guys came back down, regrouped, and then went in again an hour later. I didn’t understand why they repeated the same procedure. Was it a training exercise or an enemy they simply could not take out? I got a little excited about living in the middle of an urban combat zone and imagined how many panties I’d make wet by the telling of this story if I somehow survived. Then my Brazilian roommate came home and I asked him what the fuck was going on. “Oh, they’re filming a movie.”

Damn.

I wasn’t the only person who missed the memo as there was a big dustup about everyone thinking it was the real thing.

For the next day I heard the sound of helicopters everywhere. My ceiling fan was a helicopter. The running shower was a helicopter. The airplane flying overhead was a helicopter. And when I thought of the helicopter I thought of gunfire. I now have a better understanding now of how post-traumatic stress syndrome works. If I am exposed to the brutalities of war for an extended period of time I’m certain I would be permanently damaged. Someone slammed a car door… fire in the hole!

Turns out they were filming Tropa Elite 2, a follow-up to an excellent movie. “I saw the filming of Tropa de Elite 2 because it was right outside my place.” I’ll take it. At the end of the shoot they took a crew picture right in front of my gate. My humble shack is famous.

In front of my shack

POSTSCRIPT: I got body searched by the regular cops two nights ago while walking home (second time it’s happened to me in Brazil). It included a very rough crotch inspection. As much talk as there is about America being Big Brother, I’ve never been searched in the States. On the bright side, Brazilians don’t have tazers—if you give them lip they merely beat you with batons.

34 Comments

  1. Atheist Almighty February 8, 2010 at 10:26 am

    LMaoooooooooooo….I went to brazil to see family and heard the horror stories. They will kill you right in the middle of the street if your a banger or dealer. I’ve heard stories where the police made a deal with one gang to help raid another gangs territory. So these poor boys were chilling on the cliffs only to look down and see a zulu charge up the hill by both their worse enemies…

  2. Atheist Almighty February 8, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Oh and I’ve heard horror stories of many Americans getting perp walked right up to the ATM by the policia to make the daily max withdrawl if you know what I mean…

  3. Chris February 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Great video, even if it was acting. You should post more videos on your neighborhood and Rio.

  4. craig | travelvice.com February 8, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Firstly, I though it was pretty damn rad that you got video of this, and even the movement of the squad behind the APC. I would’ve probably taken myself, and the family in the closet, too. There’s just too much elevation drop and shitty buildings in the area that’d allow bullets to fly much further than in a normal urban setting.

    Oh, then the movie… Well, yes, much cooler if it was an actual operation, but I suppose you gotta feel better after, no? Certainly interesting. (but sounds too fucking hot to be running around in military garb – brutal)

    craig | travelvice.com’s last blog post: Wacky Bedouin Kids, Beautiful Desert Sunset.

  5. The G Manifesto February 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    “A plains-clothes man with shorts and a wife beater seemed to be directing the officers. He had a walkie-talkie in his hand. Maybe an informant?”

    Ha.

    Maybe an assistant director.

    Good footage.

    – MPM

    The G Manifesto’s last blog post: Buenos Aires and Beeks.

  6. Carl Sagan February 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Cool story.

  7. Riff Dog February 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Well, so long as they only beat you with the baton and don’t use it on you in other ways. 😉

    That sounds like way too much action for a real film shoot, even for an action movie. Film shoots here in Los Angeles are so painstakingly slow and calculated, that no one could ever believe that any real “action” is taking place. It sounds like Brazilian film crews work a lot more quickly than their American counterparts. Maybe they’re subject to police crotch searches if they take too long.

    Riff Dog’s last blog post: Hey Fellas! Are You Ready to Get Laid?.

  8. Willy Wonka February 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Lol, that’s pretty hilarious that it turned out to just be a movie and a lot of people didn’t know about it.

    Willy Wonka’s last blog post: Date One, New Notch..

  9. Alos February 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    @Anonymous

    I’d give my left nut for free healthcare like “most people in the [developed] world have.”

  10. speakeasy February 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Damn, you weren’t joking about living right next the favela. Looks more like you live IN the favela to me.

  11. Max February 8, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    “On the bright side, Brazilians don’t have tazers—if you give them lip they merely beat you with batons.”

    And people complain when American officers apply “less-lethal” force.

    I have a collapsible baton, they’re no fucking joke.

    Max’s last blog post: Strictly Personal.

    1. Roosh February 8, 2010 at 7:12 pm

      Max: Tazers only have the pesky problem of killing people.

  12. Anonymous February 8, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Haha, then edward norton, as the hulk burst through the favela, fleeing the americans

  13. Zictor February 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    The real BOPE and the movie BOPE have different insignias. 😛

  14. Gunslingergregi February 8, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    After about the 2nd bombing it is not even cool anymore unless there is also like a massive fire where everything is burning down or some connex is on fire and 50 cal rounds are going off. After the 200th time it is like your on a blog as the rounds hit and your like allright I am getting bombed catch ya later and now gotta do reports and 100 percent accountability.

  15. Gunslingergregi February 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Plus really truthfully it is not that easy to die. We had a missile go off and it completely perforated a armored vehicle. Had plumb size holes all over it. Completely fucked all the vehicles in an area. But 25 feet away there were people in a office connex working and not one of them died or even got hurt other than a scratch. All the tires on the vehicles in the deadlined area were flat and holes punctured everywhere. So really moral to story you got to be lucky to die. I have never known anyone in iraq who did.

  16. Gunslingergregi February 8, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    LOL just remembered there were gen mechanics running gen checks and they had holes in there truck too but not hit either wierd shit really and the guy who got scratched got hit with an a/c that came out of the wall.

  17. Chris February 8, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    “The U.S. constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure, along with a few other very minor protections that most people in the world would give their left nut to have. What a horrible country…”

    Its insanely easy for cops to get around this in urban areas of the USA (I cant comment on suburban and rural areas, although I would assume it is similar), and they do get around it if they think you are shady enough to warrant a search – even if you’ve don nothing wrong. (ie: walking home late in an area that they likely think that you shouldn’t be in, as Roosh was doing in Rio). Try defending your “right” in the moment, or later in court, and see what happens. Seizure is another matter, though.

    To generalize Brazil as a “horrible” country due to this police ‘privelege’ is..well…too strange to comment on.

  18. MAC February 9, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Nice footage, what kind of camera did you use.

  19. Quasi February 9, 2010 at 5:56 am

    Hehe funny post, I just saw the number 1 of those movies recently, and it is indeed really good 😀 When I see number2 I well be seeying you in fetal position on my inner flatscreen.

    Cheers!

  20. Ghost February 9, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I can’t believe no one has made a Modern Warfare II shoutout. Favella is one of the levels. Looks like a real shit hole in the game.

  21. roissy February 9, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    “a very rough crotch inspection”

    :laugh:

    roissy’s last blog post: It’s A Trap!.

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  24. Brasileiro October 4, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Bem não vou traduzir isso aqui rsrs

    vocês tem uma ideia muito superficial do Brasil
    ,Brasil não se resume a favela, sexo e samba?
    eu moro no nordeste do brasil (acho que vocês
    pensam que não mora em São Paulo ou Rio passa fome)
    mas aqui é muito bom, não tem essas favelas do Rio,
    enfim, vamos pesquisar mais do que falar

  25. BRAZILIAN August 8, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Favelas is a big problem in Brazil. Year after year the number of favelas in Brazil has growing more and more. Citys like Sao Paulo and specialy Rio de Janeiro can be consired “Favelas cities”. In the past there weren’t no many favelas, but rigth now is what more grow in Brazil. In favelas people live like animal. The place is ugly, dirty a smell very bad. In some favelas people take a shit on the flor. You guys can imagine how horrible is live in a place like that. For this reason, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are very expensive city (they are in 10 most expensive cities in the world). Because to live like an human being in Brazil, in other words, to live in a beatiful, clean and safe place, brazilian people has to spend a lot of money. Otherwise, they have to live like pigs in a pig sty. This is true, but this is the reality. But, favelas is not the only big problem in Brazil. We also have corruption (a lot!!), violence (a lot!!) and very bad education system.

    If you guys wants to go to Brazil, I really recomend to watch this video firt:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6EqcvUUPKo&feature=channel_video_title

    But Brazil is still a good place to sex tourism.

  26. jocks January 15, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    hey man, i’m living in the same neighberhood. Actually you film my appartment in the video (rua jupira)

    I also go sometimes to casa da matriz, but I definitely think you missed some other good nightlife spots.

    feels like i’m walking in your footsteps

  27. jockss January 15, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    hey man, i’m living in the same neighberhood. Actually you film my appartment in the video (rua jupira)

    I also go sometimes to casa da matriz, but I definitely think you missed some other good nightlife spots.

    feels like i’m walking in your footsteps

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