Residents of Angra dos Reis condemn the link between state corruption, joblessness and rising violence

The flowery graffiti on the wall of the narrow lane that leads into this quiet rural community reads “Welcome to Água Santa” and “good vibes”. The name means holy water. But when the Dixon family from Bromley, south-east London, turned off the main highway around 4.30pm last Sunday afternoon, it turned into hell.

The Dixons – Eloise and Maxwell and their three young daughters – were looking for a rest and a restaurant on the long drive from Rio de Janeiro to Paraty, a colonial tourist town farther down Rio state’s “Green Coast”. They were nine miles from the port of Angra dos Reis, and had no idea that armed men were manning a drug sales point on the stone steps that climb steeply up a narrow alley that faces the graffiti.

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