If the government does not have the capacity to fix it,
organized crime solves it."
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across Brazil, organized crime gangs in Rio de Janeiro have stepped forward to enforce their own lockdowns in a bid to minimize damage to the city's favelas or slums.
The move comes as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro faces a wave of criticism over his handling of the novel virus, which he has dismissed as a "little flu" and a "fantasy" - sparking demands from the left for his resignation as well as rumblings about a military plot to oust the notorious head of state.
Brazilian media have reported that gangsters have been circulating messages through WhatsApp and other platforms demanding that locals comply with an evening curfew or otherwise be taught a lesson in "respect" that they wouldn't forget.
Brazilian digital newspaper G1 reports that one message read:
While a similar message read:
Extra also reported that in the western Rio-based Cidade de Deus, or "City of God" - the sprawling favela made famous in the 2002 blockbuster film of the same name - gangsters have been driving around issuing warnings to residents to obey the lockdown or face disciplinary measures.
One message said:
Social media posts also show community organizations and civic associations conducting outreach activities in poor neighborhoods in hopes of raising awareness about the need to stay at home and be conscious of hygiene.
The message comes as residents prepare for the pandemic to reach monstrous proportions in neglected urban zones where basic sanitation has been described by locals as "terrible."
Jefferson Maia, a 27-year-old resident of the City of God slum complex, told Reuters:
Edmilson Migowski, an infectologist at Federal University in Rio, said that the favelas could become a hotbed for the virus in the coming days.
In the meantime, Bolsonaro has been accused of recklessly denying the facts about the novel virus, even going so far as rebuking his own health minister's appeal for social distancing on Sunday with the declaration:
On Monday morning, a range of opposition figures and intellectuals published a statement in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper denouncing Bolsonaro's irresponsible management of the crisis.
The declaration, Brazil cannot be Destroyed by Bolsonaro, said:
Continuing, the statement read:
The statement concluded: