Friday April 29, 2016

Documentary exposes human cost of cleaning up Brazil's favelas before Olympics

Young black males make up the majority of the 38,000 disappearances in Rio de Janeiro between 2007 and 2013.

Young black males make up the majority of the 38,000 disappearances in Rio de Janeiro between 2007 and 2013. (In the Shadow of the Hill film )

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Deep in the heart of the largest slum, or favela, in Brazil, it's hard to be heard by the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world.  But people are yelling as loud as they can to protest the disappearance of one of their own, Amarildo de Souza, a local brick layer. 

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The population of Rocinha has been estimated to be anywhere between 70,000 and 300,000. Rocinha is nestled between two of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the city. (In the Shadow of the Hill film)

De Souza was a victim of Brazil's attempt to clean up its favelas and the drug trade inside them. In advance of the 2014 World Cup of soccer, a new militarized police force was set up to flush out the drug trade at the time.

According to de Souza's family, Amarildo was last seen when the police took him for questioning and they believe de Souza was tortured and murdered by the police.

The demonstrations for justice and the media's attention triggered by Amarildo's disappearance, ultimately led to the conviction of the major of the police squad and the 24 officers in de Souza's death.

Since the conviction of officers in the de Souza case, more people from the favelas  — once too terrified to speak up —  are now coming forward looking for their own justice.

Between 2007 and 2013, about 38,000 people have disappeared in Brazil.  In about 10,000 of those disappearances, there is suspicion of police involvement — only a handful have been prosecuted.

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In November 2011, a combination of military and special-forces seized Rocinha without a single shot being fired. (In the Shadow of the Hill film)

A new documentary, In the Shadow of the Hill, explores how the security force has a devastating impact on the lives of the people in the favela of Rocinha

Dan Jackson, the film's director, joined Friday host Piya Chattopadhyay to discuss how the disappearance of bricklayer Amarildo in the Rocinha favela became a tipping point for the fight for human rights.

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A young boy plays with a kite in Brazil's largest slum, Rocinha. (In the Shadow of the Hill film)

In The Shadow of the Hill is screening in Toronto at the Hot Docs festival as part of the Spotlight on Australia.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry.