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Brazil: "Marta," a woman, named as police chief

Rio de Janeiro named a new civil police chief on Tuesday — Martha Rocha, formerly in charge of a special division of precincts that focus on crimes against women.

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Municipal police officers talk by their handies in front of the entrance to the DRACO police office, closed for investigation of its members, allegedly involved in a scandal including high officials, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb. 15, 2011. The Chief of Rio's civilian police, Allan Turnowski, resigned Tuesday. (Antonio Scorza/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Rio de Janeiro named a woman as its new civil police chief on Tuesday — Martha Rocha, formerly in charge of a special division of precincts that focus on crimes against women.

GlobalPost correspondents Solana Pyne and Erik German report that she is the first woman to lead a police force in Brazil and, according to profiles in the press, her 28 years on the force have been marked by stands against corruption.

In her acceptance speech, she talked about the importance of strengthening the department's internal affairs division, which has been widely criticized as unable to prosecute dirty cops.

Perhaps as a sign of her distance from prior leadership, the press release that announced her ascension to the post misspelled her first name as "Marta," which in Portuguese is pronounced the same way.

The misspelled name is high on Twitter trends in Brazil, and some sexist fun is being had on Twitter with the fact that the name is shared by a type of very edible cake. In Portuguese, to have "eaten" someone is slang for having slept with them.

Meanwhile, the newspaper O Globo reported that Marta's predecessor, Allan Turnowski, is about to be indicted for tipping off a cop who was the subject of a federal investigation.

That officer, Christiano Gaspar Fernandes, was later arrested and charged with being part of a militia, gangs, generally of law enforcement officers, who violently control slum neighborhoods and extort local residents and businesses.

Meantime, the government announced Tuesday that Barack Obama's Brazil visit was confirmed for March 19 (in Brasilia) and March 20 (in Rio).

Correction: This story was updated to reflect that Martha Rocha has been named chief of the civil police in Rio de Janeiro, not for the entire country of Brazil.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/brazil/110216/brazil-police-chief-woman-marta