Partially as a result of the work developed by the Group AfroReggae, Vigário Geral has become a well-known favela in the North Zone. Before this project began, there was a culture of war in the streets of the city, fed by drug gangs, where children of all ages carried heavy weapons. Today, Vigário Geral is still controlled by the Comando Vermelho (CV) criminal group and still suffers from drug trafficking, but its residents have the opportunity to choose other paths in life.
The favela began with the development of the Leopoldina railway, at the end of the 1940s. During the 1970s, the Vigário Geral Housing Development was inaugurated, and several industries began operations in the neighborhood. The region became a hub for products imported from China, dishes, plastics, glass and school supplies, both retail and wholesale.
In 1993 the great tragedy of this community made headlines in Brazil and abroad. Thirty police officers entered the favela, killing 21 innocent unarmed residents. This attack became known as the Vigário Slaughter. All the police officers involved in the crime were arrested, but only five were convicted. In response to this terrible episode, the AfroReggae Cultural Group was created, with the publication of a newspaper that promoted the ideas of its founder, José Junior.
Besides the police invasions, residents of Vigário also deal with the fear caused by conflicts between different criminal organizations. Parada de Lucas, the neighbor of Vigário Geral, is controlled by a rival group. Both groups have been at war with each other for almost three decades. There was a cease-fire that lasted seven years, due to the horror of the murders of 1993. But in 2000 Lucas invaded Vigário, killing many people.
Today the streets of Vigário Geral are no longer dirt roads, nor are there any more speed bumps placed by drug traffickers. However, the community still has high levels of violence. The population also suffers from the actions of militia groups, who negotiate with drug gangs in exchange for money.
Fighting against this reality, AfroReggae grew, and today offers classes in circus, arts and percussion, as well as educational activities, to offer fun activities and guidance so that young people choose a path far from violence and drug trafficking.