12 couples in mass wedding in Rio de Janeiro - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mass wedding held as symbol of security in advance of World Cup

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Twelve couples participated in a mass wedding under the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. (Source: APTN/CBS) Twelve couples participated in a mass wedding under the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. (Source: APTN/CBS)

RIO DE JANEIRO (APTN/CBS) - Twelve Brazilian couples tied the knot in front of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue on Thursday night.

The mass wedding was held to mark the first anniversary of a special police unit that was set up to reclaim territories in the city's favelas (shanty towns).

The Pacifying Police Units are key to the Rio state government's strategy for lowering crime in critical areas of the city before the start of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Members of the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) and residents of the Cerro Cora shanty town participated in the ceremony organized by the police and the archdiocese.

The event was organized to show the integration between the police and the residents of the favela.

"The meaning of this is that this is not just a wedding of 12 couples but a wedding between the UPP and the community," said Lt. Carlo, in charge of the UPP Cerro Cora.

One of the brides, Monique Falcao, described the wedding as "a dream come true."

According to local authorities, this is the first time a mass wedding has taken place by the statue that is a symbol of the city.

The record of the UPP is mixed. Widely praised for having made many communities safer, it has also been criticized for alleged corruption and hard-handed tactics.

Copyright 2014 APTN via CBS. All rights reserved.

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