Mob violence sundered the Marconi barrio of Montevideo - the capital of Uruguay - from October 14 to October 16. When local police came to the impoverished neighborhood looking for alleged criminals, they were met with stones and brickbats as well as firearms by residents. When police officers fired back, the neighborhood became a virtual war zone, according to local reports. The butcher's bill in the affray was the life of a 25-year-old man who was not involved in the fighting. His death escalated the violence as residents set private vehicles alight. Local police and Uruguay's Republican Guards sealed off the neighborhood to restore order, forming road blocks and check points.
In the Marconi area 160 000 people (about 12% of the population of Montevideo) live. Rampant crime has made this area the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. Unemployment is estimated to reach 40%, while approximately 70% of children become school leavers. Christian charity and secular nonprofits are engaged in alleviating the poverty in the barrio.
The Vicariate of Solidarity of the Catholic archdiocese of Montevideo called for reflection on the causes of violence in Montevideo. In a statement, the conference of Catholic bishops of Uruguay, joined by Catholic organizations and parishes of the barrio stated, "It is not the first time that violence is experienced in the neighborhood, among the inhabitants and the police; no violence is justified under any circumstances; this fact is a consequence of others, that occurred a long time ago, and unfortunately, it will generate more in the future. "
Saying that "all of us are afraid," the document recalls that "violence in Marconi has many causes " but denounced Uruguay's socialist government of having made insufficient efforts, especially as with regard to police intervention. "The same population of Marconi should be the protagonist of change" says the document, wondering, "If a lot of resources have been invested, why doesn't this disturbing reality change?"
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