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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 16:54 UK

'Crime rules our attitudes and our lives'

A police officer patrolling in the Jacarezinho slum in Rio de Janeiro

Days of violence in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have left 21 people dead.

The violence was sparked by the shooting down of a police helicopter by gunmen on Saturday - three policemen were killed in the attack.

Here, residents of Rio de Janeiro react to the violent clashes in their city and express their concerns over whether it will impact on the image of a city preparing to host the World Cup and the Olympics.

CARLOS RABELLO, RIO DE JANEIRO

Carlos Rabello

I live in the north of the city, near where much of the violence has been taking place.

A lot of businesses closed down in the area due to the violence and many are still closed.

Unfortunately we are very used to this and a lot of these kind of occurrences are normal.

However, it is awful to see people worrying about security in Rio only because we are about to prepare to host the Olympics and receive tourists.

Our government does not care if an average of 40,000 Brazilians die every year, but they worry over whether one tourist will possibly be killed.

Our government does not care if Rio is like a warzone, it only cares about the image it conveys to the international public.

Are Brazilians worth less than tourists? Is our image to the international public more important than our everyday security?

It seems that the international public also does not care about the bad conditions of this country. They only care about their security as tourists.

But that is ok, because this country is not really their concern. Nevertheless this should not be the attitude of a government towards its own countrymen.

Are Brazilians worth less than tourists? Is our image to the international public more important than our everyday security?

Of course we can prepare a beautiful fantasy for the Olympics.

We may make the city rather secure, clean and structured just for receiving guests and to show how "developed" we are to the rest of the world.

For Brazilians however, once the Olympics end, it is highly likely that everything will return to the way it was before: mass killings and widespread insecurity - just as it is now.

S HENRIKSEN, SAQUAREMA, RIO DE JANEIRO

We all know what an enormous security problem the crime-ridden favelas [slums] pose.

However, during the last few years it seems like the normally passive politicians have braced themselves and decided to finally do something about the escalating gang problem.

Increased policing and more money spent on new police stations, as well as investments in schools and infrastructure have in my opinion radically improved security in most of Rio.

No doubt this extra effort will be increased leading up to the Olympics.

LINA RAQUEL DE OLIVEIRA MARINHO, RIO DE JANEIRO

I have been living in Rio de Janeiro for two months now. Despite this little period of time here, my husband and I have already been affected by the violence.

I had my cell phone stolen downtown, near one of the most famous churches in Rio de Janeiro, Candelaria, where there was a gunfight between beggars and homeless people.

We must accept that crime rules our attitudes and our lives

The real impact of all of this on our lives is that we are ruled by the crime.

We are not allowed to behave and act naturally in public areas, because the security system is corrupt and so we must accept that crime rules our attitudes and our lives.

Hosting the World Cup and the Olympics will not be easy, that is for sure.

People from all over the world will have simple problems like using their phones in public or stopping to change a flat tire, for fear of being robbed.

KIM MIGUEZ, RIO DE JANEIRO

It's important to remember that the street violence is limited to the favelas [slums].

The Olympics will be held away from these areas and personally I think the terrible traffic jams we have to deal with every day will affect the Games more than any violence.

However these kinds of incidents are undoubtedly bad for Rio's image.

This is a shame because it's a fantastic and beautiful city.



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