Reporters: Living in fear of the militias in Rio

In Rio de Janeiro, dozens of neighbourhoods and favelas are under the control of militias. All of them use terror to control locals and businesses, and resisting them can be fatal. FRANCE 24 reporter Fanny Lothaire met officials, reporters and victims who bravely spoke out against the militias‘ controlling their city.

Marielle Franco, a popular councilwoman in the city of , was in March of this year. The 38-year-old activist had spoken out against corruption, as well as Rio’s militias: criminal groups made up of former soldiers, police officers and firemen. In the “Marvellous City”, as Rio is nicknamed, it is estimated that they control more than 37 neighbourhoods and some 160 favelas.

The militias are much more discreet than the drug trafficking gangs, who make headlines but are confined to the favelas. With Rio de Janeiro squeezed by debt and gradually abandoned by public services, the power of the militias is growing daily. This sprawling mafia operates using a code of silence, and makes the drug gangs look almost upright by comparison. Speaking out against the militias, or exposing them, is dangerous, as Franco’s assassination shows.