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April 23, 2014

Violent Protests Erupt Near Rio's Tourist Attractions

by VOA News

Residents of a Rio de Janeiro slum rioted and clashed with police late Tuesday in reaction to the death of a popular local figure.

The violence broke out in the Brazilian's city's Pavao-Pavaozinho favela, perched in the hills overlooking the famed Copacabana oceanside tourist attraction. Residents set fires throughout the neighborhood and threw bottles on the streets, forcing police to shut down traffic heading into Copacabana. The violence also pilled over into nearby Ipanema, another Rio tourist attraction.

Local news outlets say at least one person was killed in Tuesday's violence.

The rioting was sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a dancer on Brazil's Globo television network, had been discovered in the favela. Residents blame the 25-year-old's death on police, who have launched a "pacification" effort to rid Rio's slums of notorious drug gangs as the city prepares to host the World Cup in June and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro has been plagued by protests over the last several months by residents who have accused the government of neglecting public services such as transportation, health care and education, in favor of projects related to the upcoming World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.