TABOÃO DA SERRA - It was Tuesday, 2 a.m., and D. was lying on her sofa, trying to get some sleep. Bang...Bang...Bang. “It sounded like somebody was shooting inside here,” she recalled.
D. crouched, waited for the shots to stop, and left home to check the street. She opened the front door and, three meters away, lay her friend Fernando Pereira de Melo, 23, eyes wide open: the spear-shaped spiky edge of his home’s front gate sticking through his throat.
“Fernandooooooo..." Her scream froze the late night. Her friend took a glance at her one last time, moaned and died.
The self-employed Melo was born and raised in this same neighborhood of Taboão da Serra, a town in São Paulo’s suburbs. He was known for his friendliness. "If he ran into me ten times, he would greet me ten times”, a neighbor says. His grandmother lives on the same street where he died -- all the neighbors are sure he was not involved in any kind of criminal activity.
His death is just one of several cases to hit the towns surrounding to São Paulo ever since a police officer was killed last week nearby. There are strong rumors that there is a war between the police and a criminal organization called “PCC”, the largest in São Paulo state.
The state has put an extra 15,000 officers on the streets, beyond the regular 30,000. The government denies there is a war. “We are just responding to the peaks of criminality”, says police chief Roberval França. However, other individual officers told Folha anonymously that there is a list of 48 officers on a PCC hit list.
The crimes show signals of revenge. Officer Hélio Miguel de Barros, 36, died after being shot 15 times at around 9:50 P.M. on Tuesday, his day off, also in Taboão da Serra. Other crimes have occurred in the coastal towns of Santos and Guarujá, about one hour from São Paulo.
Luckier than Melo were his two friends, who managed to escape from the attack. One of them was shot five times, but was able to run away and is now in the hospital, but expected to survive. The other friend hid under a car. Nobody, however, saw what happened.
When Melo tried to jump over D.’s gate, he was shot on the back, hip and elbow, falling onto the spiky edge. His mother, who lives nearby, found his body hanging on the gate. She tried to take him off, but the police officers kept her away. “Murderers! You killed my son,” she screamed until she fainted.
D. and his friends were told by the cops not to leave home after 10 p.m. Other young men got the same warning in other places where crimes have occurred. One location to be avoided was in front of a school in Jardim Clementino, in Taboão da Serra, where three men and one woman were shot — two of them died.
In a small circle, the teenage daughter of Camila Grossi Monteiro, 30, who was shot in the neck, shoulder and arm, was talking to her school friends when Folha’s car approached.
A girl ran away, in fear. Later, after calming down a bit, she came back to talk. "Now we have to stay at home, like in prison," she said. "Is this justice?”
With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.
CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.
Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.
It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.
Abundant sunshine, low temperatures
The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.
Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.
It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.
Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park
Chinese want to expand
The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.
The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.
The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.
The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.
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