By Damien Gayle on May 2, 2013—
“The largest city on Brazil’s north-east coast, Salvador is a major tourist destination and the site of a 56,500-seat stadium being readied for next year’s World Cup. It is also in the grip of an unprecedented wave of violence that has seen murder rates soar by more than 250 per cent.
The dense slums of the city, capital of Bahia state, are an impenetrable warren ruled by gangsters, who control the terrified and impoverished residents with intimidations, beatings and summary executions. Express kidnappings, where individuals are abducted and forced to withdraw funds from automated teller machines to secure their release, are common, as are muggings, robberies, pickpocketing, bag snatching and drug dealing.
Brazilian drug gangs regularly recruit minors to carry out their dirty work, because they often get lesser sentences, meaning that the most innocent face can hide a deadly killer.
With just over 13 months until the start of the World Cup and an expected mass influx of football fans, police in Salvador face a battle to take control of their city. But in a force notorious for brutality and corruption, they face opposition not only from criminal gangs but also a sceptical populace. These pictures show the brutal reality of life in the streets of Salvador’s slums.”
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