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Brazil Presidential Elections: After Rio shoot out, the electoral campaign focuse on security and public safety.

Federal Police outside the Hotel in Rio - shootout could change the elections campaign

Recent polls showed that the presidential candidate of the governmental PT Mrs. Dilma Rousseff has an important electoral advantage over the opposition candidate Jose Serra, but some things could change after a “movie style” heavy shoot out in Rio de Janeiro.

Mr. Serra has been trying to put the issue of security and public safety in the center of the agenda of the brazilian electoral campaign, without any success until now. The shoot out was filmed and broadcasted to the whole nation, and that could impact public opinion. Mr. Serra´s political initiative is to unify all public efforts in a Ministery of Security, increasing the budget and getting though at the borders.

What happened in Rio?

The drug wars blighting Rio de Janeiro, the host city for the 2016 Olympics, were back on Brazil’s front pages today, after a 5 star international hotel was invaded by gunmen involved in a heavy shoot-out with police.

Ten heavily armed gang members on the run from police swept into the beachside InterContinental hotel yesterday morning, taking 35 people hostage and triggering a three-hour siege that ended with 10 arrests, one death and four policemen wounded.

“There must have been over 1,000 shots,” said Paul Ayscough, 48, a British businessman who was staying in the hotel. “It was a huge number of shots – automatic fire, pistol fire, everything.”

The violence began early yesterday, when up to 60 members of a gang involved in drug trafficking attempted to return to their base in Rio’s largest slum, Rocinha, after an all-night party in a nearby favela, Vidigal. A convoy of about eight vehicles was intercepted by police.

The 40-minute gun battle that followed was of proportions rarely seen outside the conflict-ridden favelas.  Half a dozen armed gang members taking cover behind a rubbish truck, started to fire using automatic weapons in an up-market neighbourhood.

“It was as if the shooting was happening inside our house,” the Brazilian sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares, who lives in the area, told O Globo. “The walls were shaking and we realized we were at the centre of the shoot-out.”

Writing on his Twitter account, Soares said: “Am I in Afghanistan?” No I’ve become a war reporter in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro.”

A woman was killed and four policemen injured in the lengthy exchange of fire. Some of the gang members managed to flee to Rocinha, a sprawling hilltop shantytown that serves as the drug faction’s headquarters, but at least 10 sought refuge in the hotel and were arrested after long negotiations. READ MORE HERE.