Latest Crime Reports: Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Needless to say, the upcoming Summer Olympic Games has drawn some serious attention to Rio’s current situation. A review of the latest news from Rio, reports on crime, take precedence.

By NADIA SUSSMAN | Nov. 10, 2015 | 8:23

Muggings (purse-snatchings) and gun crimes are among the most common crimes in Rio. Needless to say, travelers are particularly at risk of being attacked by robbers especially during the evening and at night in areas close to the major attractions in the city. For example, quite a few incidents have already occurred along the trails that lead to the gigantic statue of Christ the Redeemer which is located on top of the Corocovado Mountain and the Tijuca Forest which is located below the Mountain. Both are highly travelled by visitors and tourists. Warning: In such a situation, travelers are advised not to fight back and/or resist but to surrender their belongings in order to stay safe. But what is most advisable as suggested in our Travel Do’s and Dont’s article, is to travel in groups, leave most of your money and your valuables at home or at the hotel and remain focused at ALL times while you are in public places.
The good news is that the city’s homicide rate has reportedly decreased by almost 50% from 2005 – 2012. Rio’s rapidly expanding Police Force has worked hard to drastically reduce the city’s murder rate by introducing an innovative crime fighting strategy about 6 years go. This new approach, which is considerably different in comparison to the shock-troop approach which prevailed for many years, has proven to be highly effective.
Nevertheless, travelers are continuously being issued warnings to ensure their safety. The favelas of Rio de Janeiro are a source of curiosity for travellers from developed countries. In 2008, a favela pacification program was instituted in certain favelas such as those in the Zona Sul. Why? Because many favelas in Rio exist beyond the limits of the police and other city officials. So what does it really mean to say some favelas are considered ‘pacified?’ According to Wikipedia, the Pacifying Police Unit (Portuguese: Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, also translated as Police Pacification Unit), abbreviated UPP, is a law enforcement and social services program pioneered in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which aims at reclaiming territories, more commonly favelas, controlled by gangs of drug dealers. So travelers can visit at their own risk, but visitors are therefore encouraged to steer clear of favelas that are not pacified by the Government and to exercise extreme caution when visiting pacified favelas.
Some local companies in Rio offer hostel facilities, and room rentals in various favelas, and even offer favela jeep tours to allow tourists an opportunity to explore the areas. However, be aware that even in the pacified favelas, police protection may be limited, especially at night. According to local news reports, there has been violence related problems in pacified favelas such as Rocinha and Complexo de Alemao. If you choose to tour or to stay in a favela, neither the city police nor the tour company will be able to guarantee your safety.
Currently, in preparation for the 2016 Olympics, the Government of Brazil is working hard at cleaning up the favelas of Rio before the games start and the visitors start pouring in. The State Government of Rio issued a statement on the 3rd of April, 2015, about a possible military occupation of the Complexo do Alemao favela in an attempt to reduce crimes. However, there has been some controversy surrounding how this move could pose a threat to the lives of innocent residents and their daily lifestyle.
All in all, travellers are once again, recommended to exercise extreme caution when it comes to going out at night in Brazil. There have even been reports of carjacking incidents on Linha Vermelha, the road that links Rio’s southern zone, to the airport. Therefore, motorists are not exempt from exercising caution at night as well. For the moment, public transportation is also quite risky and one of the the best ways of getting around is the yellow taxis on which the company information, red license plates and phone numbers are openly displayed. When it comes to choosing accommodations, it is best to look for reputable establishments that are located in safe areas and provides adequate safety measures to protect you, your family and your belongings. Rio de Janeiro is a place for the street savvy and quick thinker. If you intend to explore the city’s many beautiful attractions and you desire to stay safe, be careful and alert at all times.

World Cup scandal! The unbelievable plot to eliminate Brazil

By Piers Edwards, CNN
June 18, 2014 — Updated 1042 GMT (1842 HKT)

It’s a story of brazen deceit and shameless subterfuge and had it not been for the photographic skills of just one man, Brazil’s unimpeachable record of being the only side to have competed at every tournament would have been put into serious jeopardy.

Victory for either Brazil or Chile in their final qualifier at the Maracana Stadium would have taken them to the 1990 World Cup. With 20 minutes left, Brazil were 1-0 up and looking good for qualification, especially since a draw would also take them through.

Then, their world suddenly fell apart.

In the Chile penalty area, goalkeeper Roberto Rojas was prostrate on the floor, seemingly hit by a flare that was still fizzing and pumping smoke into the sky just inches from him.

As legendary Brazilians Bebeto, Dunga and Careca looked on, Chile’s players rushed towards Rojas — furiously beckoning the medical staff once they had reached him.

With the blood leaking from his head turning his jersey crimson, Rojas was soon carried off the pitch and, as booing filled a bewildered Maracana, the match officials soon abandoned the game.

With the flare having been thrown from a Brazilian section of the stadium, football’s greatest superpower — Brazil has won the World Cup five times — was facing an unprecedented elimination.

“I was terrorized,” Ricardo Gomes, Brazil captain on the day, told CNN. “I thought immediately of losing the chance to go to the World Cup. It was something really bad.”

Now a football agent, Paulo Teixeira was working as a pitch-side photographer that day.

“Amazing as it may sound, no TV camera caught the moment the flare flew over and supposedly hit the goalkeeper,” he told CNN.

“We photographers were sitting along the side line and saw the flare come over. I was amazed to see Rojas rolling over and bleeding from an eye, as the device had hit the ground about a meter from him.”

With neither TV nor photographic evidence to prove otherwise, Brazil were in deep trouble but, wholly unbeknown to them, they were on the wrong side of an enormous hoax.

In a planned incident, Rojas — a highly-respected goalkeeper who was playing for Brazilian side Sao Paulo at the time — had used a razor blade hidden in his gloves to cut his own head while lying on the floor.

It was the most Machiavellian play to ensure Brazil’s elimination, but no one in Brazil had any hope of proving that.

Unless evidence could be found.

(Read the rest of this article at:

Brazil 2014: Black Blocs to provide black mark?

(CNN) — It’s not just fans traveling to the World Cup who should be worried about the looming demonstrations — but the players too, says a leading researcher into one of Brazil’s main protest groups.

Even though millions took to the streets to campaign against social injustice during the 2013 Confederations Cup, the protests at this month’s finals are expected to be both bigger and more violent.

While the vast majority of demonstrators will do so peacefully, a hard core element will be represented by a group commonly referred to as the ‘Black Blocs.’

Read: World Cup protests hit 18 Brazilian cities

Regularly clad in masks, balaclavas or bandannas, their behavior — which often includes smashing windows, damaging buildings and committing arson — has become common to Brazilians during the ongoing protests.

“The Black Blocs are low middle class youngsters who tend to follow an anarchist ideology, but they are more concerned about the problems of Brazil, such as poor education and public health,” Professor Rafael Alcadipani told CNN.

“Their main focus during the World Cup is to make trouble, and they will make strong protests. “I think they will try to target the buses and hotels of delegations.”

A February post on a Facebook page called ‘Black Block Brasil’ even lists the hotels that each team will use World Cup, which starts on June 12 and ends on July.

Like many Brazilians, the Black Blocs argue that the $11 billion spent on staging football’s greatest event could have been spent on improving social areas such as health care, education and housing stock instead.

Although six people died during the Confederations Cup protests, which snowballed from a protest over a transport price rise in Sao Paulo to a nationwide movement against corruption and poor governance, they were seen as largely peaceful.

The expectations for next month are very different.

“For the Black Blocs, the massive demonstrations in June 2013 had no political answers, so the way of non-violent demonstrations is over,” says Professor Esther Solano, who works at the Federal University of Sao Paulo.

(Read the rest of this article at:

Drive-By Shooting in California

Video taken from CNN International News
By Ray Sanchez, Paul Vercammen and Joe Sterling, CNN
May 25, 2014 — Updated 0107 GMT (0907 HKT

Isla Vista, California (CNN) — [Breaking news alert, published 9:07 p.m.]
— Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said that “it would appear as if” Elliot Rodger — the suspect in a deadly rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara — “took his own life” after he was wounded by officers. Rodger was found “obviously dead” in a crashed car, after he allegedly killed six people and injured 13 others.
— After leaving his residence Friday, Rodger apparently fatally shot two female students from the University of California, Santa Barbara, while a third person “suffered multiple gunshot” wounds, Brown told reporters. The suspect then went into a delicatessen, where he shot and killed another USCB student, Christopher Michael-Martinez, according to Brown.
— In addition to the six victims and the dead suspect, 13 people “were injured during this melee,” Brown said. Eight of those suffered gunshot wounds, four were hit “by the suspect’s vehicle” and one has a “minor injury of unknown origin.”
— The suspect “had over 400 remaining rounds of ammunition” when he was found “obviously dead” in his crashed car. Brown said that more people could have been killed if not for the actions of law enforcement.
— All the weapons used in Friday’s rampage “were legally purchased” and registered to the suspect, Brown told reporters.
— Rodger appears to have “fatally stabbed” three males within his residence before embarking on the rampage, Brown said.
— Brown said that authorities had “three contacts” with Rodger. In one of those, Rodger called the sheriff’s department and accused one of his roommates of stealing candles. The third was a welfare check, initiated by a family member, Brown said. “The deputies cleared the call,” the sheriff said.
— Brown on Saturday confirmed that Elliot Rodger, 22, is the suspect.

(See the remainder of this article at:

Investigator: Failed clamp caused circus accident

By Michael Pearson, CNN
May 6, 2014 — Updated 0329 GMT (1129 HKT)

(CNN) — The weekend accident that injured nine members of a circus troupe, along with two other people, during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performance in Providence, Rhode Island, was caused by a 5-inch D-ring that snapped, the lead investigator for the city’s fire department said Monday.

“It was a single piece of equipment that failed,” fire investigator Paul Doughty told reporters.
The steel caribiner was part of a rig designed to hoist performers by their hair into the air above the audience, where they would perform acrobatics. When it snapped, the rig fell to the ground to the confusion and horror of the audience.
What caused the D-ring — also called a caribiner — to snap remains under investigation, Doughty said.

The caribiner was rated for about 10,000 pounds, and the weight of the performers and the rig that fell was about 1,500 pounds, he said.

Doughty declined to say if the rigging appeared safe. But Providence Fire Chief Clarence Cunha said his crews would not rely on a single caribiner for safety.

First responders described a gruesome scene, with performers scattered on the floor, some suffering from compound fractures in which the bone protrudes through the skin. Many appeared to be in shock, they said. (To read the rest of this article, go to

Federal Police Threaten Strike During World Cup

Federal police officers across the nation want better working conditions, higher wages and clear functions.   By Maria Lopez Conde on April 15, 2014

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – Federal police in Brazil staged a protest on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach on Sunday, April 13th, calling for better working conditions, higher wages and restructuring of their career paths. The group vows to strike during this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament, which will be held in twelve cities across the county, and runs from June 12th to July 13th.

Federal police strike in Brazil , Rio de Janeiro, Brazil NewsFederal police in Brazil threaten a strike during the World Cup
photo by Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil.

Close to two hundred agents, registrars and fingerprint specialists from the professional services of the federal police marched on Rio’s Avenida Atlântica to contest, what they deem, a “failed” public safety system on Copacabana on Sunday.

André Vaz de Mello, the president of the Union of Servers of the Federal Police Department of the State of Rio de Janeiro, said, “We will wait until the World Cup, but we stand with Brasília’s and the other states’ proposal: stop [working] during the World Cup, mainly at airports,” according to Agência Brasil.

Besides investigating crimes against the federal government, the federal police play a key role in airport and border control services. They are in charge of issuing Brazilians’ passports and conducting border control enforcement at frontiers and airports across the country.

A federal police strike during the World Cup, when half a million visitors are expected to arrive in Brazil, could create bottlenecks and delays at airports. “At the airport, it’s complicated because only federal police know how to do border control service work, so no one will replace us easily.”

“Unless [the government] opens the gates and lets in terrorists, fugitives of law and all. It’s the government’s call, if it wants to maintain safety during the World Cup or open the gates,” threatened Vaz de Mello, as reported by online portal G1.

Vaz de Mello explained to Agência Brasil that the the federal police’s protest in Copacabana on Monday was meant to spotlight the federal police’s precarious working conditions. He threatened a strike if the federal police’s demands are not met before the international tournament, while promising to maintain “essential” services.

Deemed the “March of the Elephants” after the five oversize white inflatable elephants the police officers carried on the streets, the demonstration aimed to raise awareness of the inefficiencies of the police’s current model.

“The white elephant is the inefficiency of our current public safety model, in which 96 percent of cases do not go anywhere, and only two percent truly punish those guilty for them. This [model] does not exist anywhere else,” Vaz de Mello said.

In 2009, a delegate from the Rio Grande do Sul state police estimated that around eighty percent of the cases brought to the federal police are not solved. This is partly due to the fact that the number of federal police investigations has risen by 2,000 percent in the last twenty years, according to data from Brazil’s Court of Auditors. In 2003, the federal police opened 50,220 investigations and two years later, in 2005, there were 66,492 cases.

“We ask for a restructuring of the career, with the attributions of roles such as fingerprint specialist, agent and registrar defined by law, because there is not that at the moment and at the very least, an inflationary readjustment [of salaries] so we can sit and talk,” Vaz de Mello said. According to him, federal police officers have not received a pay raise in seven years.

In November 2013, the professional categories of the federal police, defined as those that serve as registrars and fingerprint specialists, staged strikes and protests to demand better salaries. Federal police delegates receive salaries that range from R$16,000 to R$22,000 per month, while those serving as professionals in the federal police, make R$7,000 to R$11,800 per month.

Cuba: U.S. using new weapon against us: spam

            By Patrick Oppmann, CNN – April 10, 2014

Havana (CNN) — Cuban officials have accused the U.S. government of bizarre plots over the years, such as trying to kill Fidel Castro with exploding cigars. On Wednesday, they said Washington is using a new weapon against the island: spam.

“It’s overloading the networks, which creates bad service and affects our customers,” said Daniel Ramos Fernandez, chief of security operations at the Cuban government-run telecommunications company ETECSA.

At a news conference Wednesday, Cuban officials said text messaging platforms run by the U.S. government threatened to overwhelm Cuba’s creaky communications system and violated international conventions against junk messages.

The spam, officials say, comes in the form of a barrage of unwanted text messages, some political in nature.

Ramos said that during a 2009 concert in Havana performed by the Colombian pop star Juanes, a U.S. government program blanketed Cuban cell phone networks with around 300,000 text messages over aboutfive hours.

“It was a platform created to attack Cuban networks,” Ramos said.

As first reported by The Associated Press last week, the U.S. Agency for International Development created a cell phone-based “Cuban Twitter” program, known as ZunZuneo.

It allowed U.S. government officials to send blast texts to Cubans and allowed people on the island to message each other independent of Cuban government restrictions on communications.

Under Cuban law, all Internet and communications services on the island are controlled by government-run entities.

USAID officials envisioned the program being used to organize “smart mobs” that could challenge the Cuban government’s control on power, according to documents obtained by the AP.

U.S. defends ‘discreet’ program

Just this month, Cuba started a government e-mail service that allows people to receive e-mails on their phones.

In the country, which has the lowest rate of Internet access in the Western Hemisphere, the vast majority of people communicate via text message rather than using e-mail.

ZunZuneo — Cuban slang for erratic, zigzag movements — counted around 68,000 users at the height of the program’s popularity, USAID said. The program ended in 2012 after U.S. government funds for it dried up.

Cuban officials have blasted the program as part of a long-running campaign by Washington to destabilize the island’s single-party communist government and said other similar mass-messaging programs still exist.

U.S. government officials have defended the program, saying they were trying to foster free expression in Cuba.

Last week, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf denied accusations that the program aimed to push a particular political agenda.

“We believe that the Cuban people need platforms like this to use themselves to decide what their future will look like, and that’s certainly what we did here,” she told reporters. “We were trying to expand the space for Cubans to express themselves. They could’ve expressed … anti-American views on it. We didn’t monitor or … choose what they say on these platforms. That’s up to them.”

But other U.S. officials have been less positive about the program’s value.

During a USAID budget hearing Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, called ZunZuneo “a cockamamie idea” that the Cuban government had little difficulty tracing back to the United States.

USAID administrator Rajiv Shah said that ZunZuneo had been carried out “discreetly” to avoid Cuban government detection, but it wasn’t a covert program that would have required congressional approval.

“Creating platforms to improve communication in Cuba and in many parts of the world is a core part of what USAID has done for some time and continues to do,” Shah said. “Our administration’s policy is to continue to support efforts to allow for open communications.”

Shah said that USAID “continues to support platforms” like ZunZuneo, but he didn’t go into details.

Alan Gross’ attorney: Program is ‘shocking’

Attempts by USAID employees and contractors to get U.S. government technology into the hands of Cubans has been at the heart of a high-profile case that’s been a flashpoint in Cuba-U.S. relations in recent years.

Former USAID subcontractor Alan Gross is serving a 15-year sentence in prison on the island after his 2009 arrest for importing banned communications as part of a USAID program to connect Cubans to the Internet.

He was charged by a Cuban court in 2011 of being an American spy. USAID has said he was in the country working on a U.S. government project setting up satellite Internet connections.

Shah said the U.S. government continues to push Cuban officials to release Gross.

But Gross, 65, announced Tuesday that he had begun a hunger strike on April 3 from his cell at a Cuban military hospitalto protest the way both countries’ governments are treating him.

His lawyer said he was shocked to learn about the ZunZuneo program.

“Once Alan was arrested, it is shocking that USAID would imperil his safety even further by running a covert operation in Cuba,” attorney Scott Gilbert said in a statement.

Gross has lost 10 pounds since beginning the hunger strike, a spokeswoman for his attorney said Tuesday.

A statement issued Wednesday by Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “concern” about news of Gross’ hunger strike but said he “was in good physical condition and his health was normal and stable.”

Cuban government officials have offered to discuss trading Gross for three Cuban intelligence operatives serving lengthy prison in the United States. But U.S. officials have said that there will be no swap, saying Gross was not spying in Cuba.

Former Cuban counterintelligence official weighs in

A former member of Cuba’s secretive State Security unit, which hunts what Cuban officials perceive to be internal threats, said he wasn’t surprised to hear about the U.S.-funded ZunZuneo program.

It’s just the sort of thing that Jose Manuel Collera Vento says he was tasked with stamping out when he worked as a counterintelligence official.

“My job was to discover and neutralize these plans against my country,” said Collera, who’s also a cardiologist and a top official in Cuba’s Masonic community.

Stretching back centuries, the Freemasons describe themselves as one the world’s oldest and largest charitable and fraternal organizations. The organization has offices, or “lodges,” across Cuba and counts important Cuban historical figures like revolutionary Jose Marti among its members.

In 2004, Collera says he came face to face with Gross.

“It’s impossible that he didn’t know he was carrying out clandestine and illegal activity,” Collera said.

Gross, Collera said, visited him to deliver camera equipment and money. At the time, USAID officials and representatives from other U.S. agencies proposed setting up satellite, Internet-based centers at the Masonic temples that Collera oversaw.

“Alan Gross as a person was nice, very friendly,” Collera said. “He communicated by making gestures because his Spanish was very limited.”

What Gross did not realize, according to Collera, was that Collera was a 30-year veteran of Cuba’s State Security and was informing his superiors of the USAID contractor’s activities in Cuba.

In 2007, a cable signed by the then-head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana described Collera as a likely Cuban government “pawn,” following “instructions from the Castro regime to penetrate, weaken, and divide the Masonic community.”

The message also said that only 100 members of Cuba’s 25,000 Freemasons had Internet access and called the organization’s Havana headquarters a “neutral space” where Cubans could “participate in civil society.”

U.S. diplomats in Havana, the cable concludes, “and Miami-based donors have supported the Freemason movement in the past and should continue to do so.”

The cable was among the trove of U.S. government documents obtained by WikiLeaks and published in 2010.

It is unclear if Gross was ever warned that by meeting Collera, he had crossed paths with a possible Cuban counterintelligence operative and was now on authorities’ radar.

In 2009, Gross was arrested as he arrived at a Havana airport carrying satellite communications gear.

According to a Cuban sentencing document from Gross’ trial, he was traveling to the island to begin a project of connecting Masonic lodges to the Internet.

The next time Collera saw Gross was in a Cuban courtroom. Collera testified against Gross at his 2011 trial and revealed himself as “Agente Gerardo,” a foot soldier in Cuba’s vast State Security apparatus.

Gross was convicted of threatening Cuba’s national security and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

His cover blown, Collera says Gross’ arrest was his last case. But in an interview with CNN, Collera said Cuba’s domestic intelligence capabilities make any United States-directed program, from the CIA’s alleged exploding cigars to USAID’s “Cuban Twitter,” nearly impossible to keep secret.

“There are 11 million Cubans,” Collera said. “That means there are 11 million people who could be State Security.”

Kentucky beats Wisconsin, will face Connecticut for NCAA title

The Wildcats won on a three-point shot by Aaron Harrison with five seconds left in the game.

“Whoever had the ball last who could make a shot would win this game,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a post-game interview.

On Monday, Kentucky will face Connecticut in the championship game. Connecticut beat top-ranked Florida 63-53 in the first game Saturday.

Attendance was 79,444 Saturday night at the Final Four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, breaking the previous record of 78,129, according to the NCAA March Madness Twitter feed. The championship game will be played at the same site.

Kentucky finished their season strong but ended up as a No. 8 seed in their regional tournament. Wisconsin was a No. 2 seed in their region.

Florida was the top seed for the entire tournament and held a 12-point lead midway through the first half.

Connecticut, a No. 7 seed in its region, roared back, taking a slight lead at the half and expanding the bulge early in the second half.

“They showed us some true grit and toughness,” Connecticut coach Kevin OIlie said in the post-game press conference.

Shabazz Napier said he and his teammates didn’t panic when they trailed 16-4 early in the game.

“We’ve been through a lot of dog fights and continue to believe in each other,” he said.

Florida coach Billy Donovan praised the Huskies’ comeback.

“Once they got their defense set I think we had a hard time handling their pressure,” he said.

Scottie Wilbekin of Florida, the player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, only scored four points. “On offense we couldn’t get anything going,” he said.


Brazil tackling child prostitution for World Cup

By Shasta Darlington, CNN April 2, 2014 — Updated 0624 GMT (1424 HKT)

Fortaleza, Brazil (CNN) — The newly-renovated Castelao football stadium looms into sight up ahead. Driving just past it, we see women standing on street corners, leaning into cars and flashing nearly naked bodies in the low light.

We’re in Fortaleza in the northeastern corner of Brazil, one of the World Cup host cities but also known as a magnet for sex tourism.

Prostitution is legal in Brazil for those 18 or older, but government and soccer officials are trying stto crack down on the child sex trade before the tournament kicks off in June.

Antonio Carlos da Silva, a social worker with O Pequeno Nazareno, says the prostitutes around the stadium now cater to truckers but dream about big bucks from visiting fans.

“Ever since Brazil was selected to host the World Cup in 2014, it created these huge expectations,” he says as we drive down a darkened avenue.

“The girls keep asking me “where can I take English classes so I can get more clients?””

We pull up to chat with Taina, an 18-year-old transsexual who has been working the streets since she was a minor. “Sometimes people want trannies, sometimes they want girls,” she says.

Hiding down side streets

She says that child prostitutes hide down side streets or behind bus stops.

According to critics, officials have pushed the child sex trade out of sight, but haven’t done enough to eradicate its root causes. They warn underage prostitution could explode during the World Cup.

“These girls come from extreme poverty, a culture of social exclusion and a tradition of profound disrespect for women,” says Antonia Lima Sousa, a state prosecutor.

She says the desperation is so great, some parents even put their own children on the street.

But there is also a serious problem with organized crime.

“It involves a whole tourism network, from agencies to hotels to taxis,” she says. “With these mega events, sexual exploitation is also going to be organized much more via the Internet.”

Despite promises to eradicate child prostitution, the number of estimated child sex workers in Brazil stood at about half a million in 2012, according to the non-profit National Forum for the Prevention of Child Labor.

Experts: Strict building codes saved lives in powerful Chile earthquake

By Ray Sanchez, CNN – April 3, 2014– Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)

(CNN) — Strict building codes and the preparedness of millions of Chileans who live along an arc of volcanoes and fault lines likely kept the death toll — only six by Wednesday afternoon — low after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake rumbled offshore and prompted a tsunami, observers said.

Officials said four of those whose deaths were blamed on the quake late Tuesday that triggered landslides, power outages, and a tsunami suffered heart attacks, while two others were crushed.

“They’re a seismically active region of the world and they are very good at implementing their building codes similar to California,” John Bellini, a Denver-based geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey told CNN on Wednesday.

He added, “Because of that, you would see less damage than in other places that have poorer building codes …. that’s probably one of the reasons there haven’t been as many casualties as there could have been from a magnitude earthquake of this size.”

Nearly 928,000 people were evacuated, said Ricardo Toro, director of Chile’s office of national emergency.

More than 2,500 homes sustained serious structural damage in the region around the northern port city of Iquique, the mayor of Alto Hospicio, Ramon Galleguillos, told reporters. Most of the homes were built with poor workmanship through government subsidies, Galleguillos said. Alto Hospicio is about a mile from Iquique, 60 miles southeast from the epicenter of the quake.

A 7.6-magnitude aftershock struck the region late Wednesday. There was no immediate word on damage or injuries.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who toured the region Wednesday, praised local authorities for responding in an “exemplary manner” to a powerful earthquake and the tsunami that followed.

“This is a great example to all of us that when we work together in an adequate manner and we when we follow the plans that have been established in the region, we work well,” Bachelet said.

Chile is in one of the most earthquake-prone regions in the world.

The country sits on an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Ocean known as the “Ring of Fire,” according to Mark Simons, a geophysicist at Caltech in Pasadena, California. This area sees frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Since 1973, Chile has had more than a dozen quakes of magnitude-7.0 and above.  (Fr more details on this article, go to:

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Asks for Help to Fight Crime

Crime in Rio

Crime in Rio

Brazil will send federal troops to Rio de Janeiro to help quell a surge in violent crime after attacks by drug traffickers on police posts in three slums on the north side of the city, government officials said Friday. Less than three months before Rio welcomes tens of thousands of foreign soccer fans for the World Cup, the attacks cast new doubts on government efforts to expel gangs from slums using a strong police presence. The city will also host the Olympics in 2016. On Friday, the governor of Rio de Janeiro State, Sérgio Cabral, asked President Dilma Rousseff for federal troops to help stop the attacks on police units overseeing slums across Rio de Janeiro. Shooting erupted on Thursday between drug traffickers and the police near the Manguinhos complex of shantytowns. Three police officers were wounded, the local news media reported, and the attackers set fire to a police post and knocked down power lines.

Taken from Reuters – March 21, 2014

2014 Brazil World Cup under threat from violent organized crime…

Brazil: World Cup 2014 – crime and drugs: What the current …

The 2014 World Cup: Favela Housing for Tourists in Brazil