First Things First: Out with the UPP!

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For the original article by Gizele Martins in Portuguese published on her blog A Mareense click here.

Once again, life in Maré was interrupted. We heard gunshots from dawn onwards on Monday, June 20. We were prevented from circulating our favelas yet another day, and from entering or leaving them.

In the morning, schools announced there would be no classes as they would be closed. They sent children who were able to reach school back home.

For yet another day, residents in the Complexo da Maré favelas in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro heard only gunshots. Schools and health clinics remained closed. But life outside the visible and the invisible walls of the favela goes on. Not only does it go on, it makes demands of us–demands we get to work, to school, to university on time. It demands, saying we’re to blame for all this. It demands of us and dictates rules, telling us how to think.

It must be understood that this policy of criminalizing poverty is not mine. It’s not the favela’s fault. It is a policy from the top down. Yes, a policy, politics, from the state, from the government, from the priorities that it has, to maintain its privileges and those of the wealthy few in the nation of Brazil.

Ironically, we currently have a country shouting “Get out, Temer,” “Stay Dilma,” but here in the favelas we continue to shout “Get out BOPE,” “Get out UPP,” “Get out Army,” “Down with the criminalization of poverty,” “Down with the Olympics.” In other words, we are still calling for the right to life. Life, a dream yet to be achieved by the poor, black, favela nation.

We already know why we are treated this way: we are still cheap labor, we are still the slaughterable public. We are still the public that can have the tanks, BOPE, Shock Troops, UPP on our doorsteps just because we live in these poor, peripheral favelas. There are countless favelas going through this in Rio de Janeiro alone.

There’s no way for me to shout “Get out, Temer,” “Stay Dilma.” They don’t represent me. They kill me. They allow the blood of the favela to spill. There’s no way, there’s no way for me to waste time shouting something that doesn’t include me. We already know what the government is interested in. They want mega-events, I want life! It is a struggle that is still very fundamental–it is life!

I wish I didn’t have to see all this, not feel any of this, not wash any more blood, not expose any more of this. But it’s impossible to not see it, it’s impossible to accept it, and it’s impossible to become complacent. We must shout, and keep on shouting: “Down with the militarization of the favelas!” This is the historic chant of the favela nation!

It is our blood on the ground in exchange for a mega-event!

The favela resists!

Gizele Martins is a community journalist from the Complexo da Maré favelas.