Starting in 2008, the Brazilian government began commissioning nearly forty police pacification units (UPP) in over two-hundred of Rio de Janeiro’s shantytowns, known as favelas. This pacification project aimed to maintain security in territories after Rio’s special police unit (BOPE) cleared the communities of gang leaders and drug traffickers who, for decades, controlled the favelas and inspired their violent reputations.
The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to 6 million people with approximately 1.5 million residents living in favelas. These residential communities, named after the favela trees native to the region, are commonly misunderstood by outsiders. Although 32% of favela residents belong to the lower-class, a 2013 study found that 85% of people residing in favelas like where they live. Some favelas have high crime rates, but many are high-functioning, self-governing communities.
In 1964 the military took control of the Brazilian government in a coup d’état and began a twenty-year military rule. The government often had disagreements with the Catholic clergy in Brazil, especially foreign missionaries and priests, which made up about 40% of the Brazilian clergy. During that time many of these clergy members were espousing Liberation Theology, a use of biblical teaching for the purpose of improving and liberating the oppressed and the poor, especially the lower class in rural Brazil. However, this radical teaching often put clergy members in confront