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AfroReggae | Rio to the Rescue

AFROREGGAE-INCENDIO-RJ-914-size-598

Arson fire damages NGO hostel in “pacified” RIo shantytown. Drug trade is suspected.

Source: O Globo|  Clipping-MP,

Mayor Paes visits shantytown and announces that the city will continue the work of ofAfroReggae, which closed its doors recently on the orders of the drug traffic.

For background on the threat to one of Brazil’s highest-profile NGOs, see

New Address. Paes brought Renê Silva, editor of Voz da Comunidade – Voice of the Community — to the location on Morro do Adeus where the newspaper will establish its new headquarters.

Meanwhile, the city government will take over the social projects that have been run by the NGO AfroReggae in the Alemão complex, which serve 350 children.

The announcement came during a visit by the mayor to the area, where Paes donated a plot of land for the installation of the local newspaper , Voz da Comunidade (Facebook). The day before yesterday, AfroReggae coordinator José Júnior announced the NGO would close up shop in the Alemão on the orders of drug dealers in the community, which is ostensibly pacified under the UPP program.

The program`s Web page informs that the UPP program has been in force since May 2012.

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Voz da Comunidade is actually one channel in a network known as  Voz das Comunidades. It has different editions for the various neighorhoods of the sprawling slum.

José says he is receiving threats.

— I do not want the community center shut down, the Mayor said.  Let us make sure that nothing gets shut down. I will telephone Júnior today and make this possible. I will discuss the matter with him. He is a great guy and will continue to enjoy our support.  No one will impose silence on the Alemão — said Paes.

NGO Coordinator Records Video

The mayor ascended the hillside of the Morro do Adeus, one of many in the Alemão complex, with the young Renê Silva, editor of Voz da Comunidade. There, Paes showed residents the lot where the newspaper will be headquartered.  The new premises will be located in an area belonging to the city government, running alongside the cable car.

– We have been talking with Renê over the past three weeks about the new editorial offices.  I am here to day to donate the land and show the people that every Alemão resident can come and go as they please.  Before, you had to ask for permission. But now there is no going back; the pacification process is here to stay – the mayor said.

Pleased with the new workspace, Renê said that his newspaper, along with a community radio station and online social media associated with the Voz, will remain active.  According to René, newspaper staff continue their work at home, on computers.

Regarding the threats received, the AfroReggae director recorded a video that he showed to students of the NGO.  The video was recorded a day after the announcement that the Alemão offices of the NGO would be closed.  In the video, Júnior announces that despite having to close the site, no employees would be laid off and that the 350 children served by the NGO would no go without assistance.

– After talking with a lot of people, I decided it was time to take a breather.  So if it is time to shut down, then we shut down.  The AfroReggae credo is mediation, and mediation sometimes means having to walk away. I cannot promise that  AfroReggae will return some day to the Alemão complex. What will happen? I don’t know. But we are going to continue our work.

Today, the head of DCOD, the anti-drug division of the state judicial police, Márcio Mendonça,  will take a statement from the AfroReggae coordinator regarding the threats. The policeman said he will talk with everyone who worked at the NGO and with the 22nd Precinct in Penha in order to learn the details of the investigation into the arson fire last week at the hostel run by AfroReggae in the Alemão.

— We will also examine the alleged link between Marcos Pereira, whom Júnior accuses, and these events —  the Dcod official said, referring to the case of an evangelical minister imprisoned for rape whom the AfroReggae coordinator accuses of ties to the drug trade and of making death threats against him.

Meeting with PM Commandant

The AfroReggae coordinator will meet this morning with military  police commandant Colonel Erir Ribeiro Costa Filho, who wants to know whether traffickers are threatening the NGO despite the fact that the Alemão complex is “pacified” – i.e., with a Police Pacification Unit (UPP) installed.  The PM said he would not comment until he has heard José Júnior.

Yesterday, of Rua Joaquim de Queiroz Street, in the Alemão, where the AfroReggae  headquarters is situation, everything was normal.  Residents, however, avoided commenting on the departure of the NGO.  Some said they had not even known that AfroReggae had left the complex..

Founded in 1993, AfroReggae moved into the Complexo do Alemão in 2005. Initially, the NGO functioned in workshops alonside the Urban Connections — Conexões Urbanas — project on Canitá Street.  In August 2007, the group obtained a headquarters of its own on Joaquim de Queiroz Street, in Grota. At the Complexo de Alemão Community Center, 350 children were provided with courses in art, dance, percusssion, theater and graffiti, among other activities.