National Geographic : 2012 Oct
of a straight-talking gaucho from Brazil's south- ern plains. "I understood that we had to have a plan, not a bunch of opinions," says Beltrame. " e solution, without any doubt whatsoever, is what I am doing." In other slums now occupied by police, life has improved. Children are playing again in the streets. Friends will come for a visit. Yet people are still suspicious. One of Fabio's fel- low preachers, Sérgio Souza de Andrade, led me to the church basement to explain. "People don't want to say so, but our greatest fear is that tomorrow will be like yesterday," he says. "What will happen when the police leave?" Consider Cantagalo, an amphitheater-shaped favela with sweeping views of Rio, where drug tra ckers made the rules for roughly 35 years. eir spray-painted slogans, on building walls now covered with less violent gra ti by local artists, announced: "We are the crazies" or "Psy- chos are born here." Since police took over in December 2009, gang members have no longer been carrying unconcealed weapons. But they may not all have le either. " ey're up there somewhere," says Luiz Bezerra do Nascimento, the community association president, waving a hand toward the top of the hill. Everyone is still sorting out the new roles. "We had to respect them before because they were the authority. Now I tell them, 'You don't rule here anymore. e police do.' " e police are more welcome, if not beloved, in Cantagalo these days, partly because of a big publicity e ort. It's a strategy as old as military A drug dealer holding bags of cocaine worth a few dollars apiece is one of a disappearing breed in Vidigal. Police officers who now occupy the favela are working to eradicate all such activity.