RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Michel Temer launched on Monday a social program offering training, recreation and sports to some 50,000 minors to keep them away from the wave of violence besetting Rio de Janeiro ever since the 2016 Olympic Games, which the city hosted.
The “Emergency Social Action Program for Rio de Janeiro” was presented on Monday as a complement – in terms of its objective of reducing violence – to the operation whereby Temer sent about 10,000 military troops to strengthen security in Brazil’s most emblematic city.
“We have an enormous military force helping confront organized crime. The experience of recent years showed us that that is not enough. If we don’t improve the social structure and the lives of people, (military action) will have a fleeting effect,” said Social Development Minister Osmar Sierra at the ceremony launching the program in one of Rio’s vast shantytowns, or “favelas.”
The head of state, who presided at the event in a high school where teens are receiving assorted sports instruction and in the presence of dozens of young athletes, said that practicing sports is a way of integrating kids into society and an exercise in cooperation that transmits “the basic idea of peace.”
The initiative, which will involve several ministries and Rio’s regional and municipal governments, will require an investment of some 157 million reais (about $49 million) in several of the city’s main favelas.
The objective of the project is to offer programs to train young people in different jobs, encourage them to develop their own projects and plans and involve them in sports activities and educational campaigns, including promoting human rights.
The first phase of the project is designed to benefit kids and teens in the Rocinha, Cidade de Deus, Alemao, Mare, Penha and Salgueiro favelas, where violent clashes among rival drug trafficking gangs occur and ongoing police and military operations to fight crime are under way.
The minister said that Rio hotels have made a commitment to train teens in assorted tourist-oriented jobs and reserve 10 percent of the jobs they offer to that group.
So far this year, civil organizations say that some 4,000 people have been murdered in Rio de Janeiro state, including 119 police officers.