- Gangs at the Rio de Janeiro favelas are once again taking over the streets to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Instead of peddling drugs and weapons, they are delivering food and medical supplies.
- Despite threats from the police, the gangs are also helping people from breaking curfews and restaurants from putting out tables.
As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to ravage the world, the gangs which Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro pledged to crush “like cockroaches” are taking over the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Instead of peddling narcotics, however, they are now out and about to push curfews, social distance, and food packs for the needy citizens.
“We fear the virus, not Bolsonaro,” says an unnamed gang member. “We can’t count exactly how many have already died. The hospitals kill more than if you stay home and take care of yourself.”
The drug-smuggling gangs are giving food and medical supplies to one of Rio’s most socially isolated and inaccessible communities. With Brazil’s COVID-19 casualties continually going up, alcohol gel, medication and cash handouts are all necessities.
An unnamed gang member said:
“Doctors from the community are helping the sick people voluntarily. We can’t ease it… we’ve seen a lot of death.”
He likewise added that the “isolation is going well” despite the fact that enforcing quarantine is not easy. “It’s not a small thing” and even the president is “disregarding it.”
They think the local communities should have access to some support since the poor re often deprived of much-needed assistance.
In response, they have taken to delivering goods to the people. Their first deliveries had been to a manicurist who has been out of work for months. They also brought supplies to a street vendor who is having a hard time due to lack of sales. They barred the restaurants from putting out their tables, too.
Locals said the Rio de Janeiro favelas have become much quieter since people are still afraid because of the numerous deaths.
However, many residents who mostly work for the wealthier neighborhoods are likely to spread the virus.
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