Friday, April 23, 2010

GATE, no not GATO.

So, picture the SWAT team-then times it by 100. And you get GATE....the intense police SWAT-like team in Brasil.

These guys mean business. If you see them around--chances are the person they are after they are out to kill. No handcuffs required.

Let me set up the scene for this post.
For those of you that arent familiar with Brasil let me paint a quick picture. There are MANY neighborhoods in Brasil called "favelas"--which basically translates to "slums". And they are EVERYWHERE. Brasil is a "Developing country"--meaning they are climbing their way out of Third World status. It is very hard to make a living here, so a huge population lives in a favela.

WEEELLLLL--this is also where the Drug Dealers reside. I toured one of these neighborhoods once and they are like mazes. The streets are extrememly narrow and if you get in and dont know your way around--youre pretty much stuck. The drug dealers do this on purpose. Once the police get in there (if they can get in) its hard for them to get out.
Favelas start by people just finding material and building their own houses. They dont buy land..they just take it. Because of this most favelas are located on the side of a hill or something. You can have a rich fancy schmancy neighborhood--and a block away is a dangerous drug infested favela.
Rio De Janiero is one of the most dangerous cities in the world because of these Drug Lords and the people that live around them helping them.

"On with the story Shea" is what youre saying. Ok ok ok.
So, just down the street from Berns' parents house is a favela. From what I understand from talking to them it's usually a pretty "boring" favela in terms of any ruckus or things happening.
Well, a couple days after arriving--late at night there was a loud helicopter noice. Being that Berns is a very curious little critter he went out on the porch to see what the hub bub was about. He came running inside telling his mom and I to "Come quick"!
The helicopter was a police search helicopter. The spot light was right over the favela that was a football field away. All of the sudden we saw some regular police guys coming up the street on foot and entering the favela.
A few minutes would pass and some more would pass buy, then police cars would zoom past...after about 10 minutes Berns just said, "Mae-GATE!"
I said, "cat? huh?" (GATE, GATO...they sound the same)....Berns proceeded to tell me who the GATE were...and how intense they were.
There was a slew of them coming up the street entering the favela--helicopter still buzzing around our heads.

I told Berns to hurry and go turn on the news. He replied with a "Shea, this is an everyday thing in Belo. It wont be on the news. They wont even mention it in the paper.--It's never happened over here...but it's too normal for it to make the news"

My thoughts: "uh....*silence*"

The thing that shocked me the most were the people that lived in the favela just coming and going as they pleased and the whole event not even phasing them. How sad.
Being that Berns is interested in ANYTHING that has to do with the law, accidents, etc etc etc he decided that that incident made the trip.

We didnt see anything come out of it. The helicopter eventually flew away...I dunno what happened with the rest of the slew and hoards of police and GATE..maybe they caught their guy...maybe they didnt.

Experiencing a favela in and of itself is quite the eyeopening experience...add this to it and it just gives Suburbia USA a whole new glory light.


grandma debi said...

Oh lovely! Not my favorite part of Brasil -- probably not yours either. Hope you enjoyed your trip and are safely home! Sorry we missed you in Belo.

grandma debi said...

Oh lovely! Not my favorite part of Brasil -- probably not yours either! Ugh! Hope you enjoyed your trip and are home safely. Sorry we missed seeing you in Belo!