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Favelas in Brazil

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Rio’s oldest favela, Providência, was founded in 1897 within a decade of the abolition of slavery, next to the Port that received 500,000 enslaved Africans. Since the early 1980s, nearly every Rio favela was controlled by violent drug gangs or criminal organizations that operated outside the rule of law. Favelas became a de-facto safe haven for criminal elements. Police were prohibited from entering the favelas by order of senior civilian leadership. Criminals filled this power vacuum and ensured that for nearly 30 years criminal organizations controlled the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro. About 19,000 of Rio’s favela families have been forcibly removed from their homes during the last five years in Rio.