Processes of neoliberal urban planning, understood as a comprehensive governmental action, incorporate violences and result in the imposition of new political territorial units, impacting on citizenship formation. Taking the Porto Maravilha project as a case study, this paper offers an exploration of how security bodies, the municipality, and private parties work together to re-shape power structures and the urban political economy of Rio de Janeiro’s Port Region. In anticipation of hosting mega sports events, Rio de Janeiro is currently going through accelerated parallel processes of urban transformation and pacification, respectively implying the implementation of neoliberal urban developments, and a change and strengthening of security and public order policies, particularly with the deployment of Pacifying Police Units in favelas. Drawing from a historical perspective of planning practices based on accumulation by dispossession, the paper connects current neoliberal planning with violent pacification and public order policies in the context of police and state-induced gentrification.
Results are drawn from a blend of ethnographic exploration of the field based on observations, and in-depth interviews with residents, policy-makers, police officers and other members of the civil society. The study shows how, effectively, both the pacification process in the favela Providência, and the Porto Maravilha Public Order Unit not only secure spaces within the favela and the surrounding areas for capital investment, but also reinforce historical forms of segregation, and control the productive lives of residents, attempting to turn them into model citizens.