Violence Concerns in Rio Drop

Complexo do Caju UPP Installation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

(courtesty of the Rio Times)

A recent survey by O Globo newspaper revealed that violence is a lesser concern among Rio residence, currently. The government’s established Police Pacification Units is contributed to this lowering concern, as well as to a reduction in the number of times the police have been forced to discharge fire arms.

The same survey displayed data as well that the number of stray bullets fired by police has also dropped by 81%. This further cements the standing that the Police Pacification Units are effectively lowering crime rates in the city.

Residents are saying that now that crime rates have dropped, the issues that need to be addressed are noisy bars and clubs, expanding favelas, refuse, sanitation, and waste water facilities. The Botafogo Resident’s Association President, Regina Chiaradia, states “The reduction in violence in the greatest prize that events such as the Olympics have brought us. Now we need to get our sewers fixed,”

There are also other associations that state that efforts should be prioritized in the education and health services areas of the community.

Since the effective crime drop in Rio, experts are now saying the police need to refocus operations in the Zona Oeste, which is Rio’s west zone, in order to decrease mortality rates.

State and federal security forces occupied the communities of Complexo do Caju and Barreira do Vasco in the city’s port zone earlier this month as the first preliminary step to installing Rio’s first Police Pacification Unit.

The number of homicides has been dropping in Rio, according to recent figures, however crimes and homicides elsewhere in the state have been on the rise.

Rio Favelas Getting Eco-Friendly Homes

Green homes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

(courtesy of RioTimes.Com)

The city of Rio delivered sixteen eco-friendly apartments to the citizens of the local favelas, Babilônia and Chapéu Mangueira. The buildings used sustainable materials as well as complying with construction methods in order to build homes in environmentally protected areas. This is being done as part of the mayor’s Live Carioca Green project.

The apartments feature a variety of things, such as solar heating, windows that allow for better ventilation, rainwater collection, energy efficiency, longer lasting light bulbs, motion sensor lights, insulation to keep homes cooler in the summer, and more.

These sixteen apartments are the first delivery of a project that will be delivering 117 more eco-friendly units in similar communities by 2014. Architects from the company Arquitraco Projetos, based in Rio, are in charge of the project.

One citizen that was placed in one of the apartments, Priscila Cristina de Souza Chagas, lost her home on the hillside during a mudslide in 2008. She was transferred temporarily to subsidized housing. She is happy with the new apartment and says “I’m very happy because there is no comparison between my new house and my old one. My old house was made of stucco and wood, but this new house is built right.”

When the mayor, Eduardo Paes, visited the eco-homes when they were placed last week, he said “Rio has a vocation for sustainability and the preservation of nature. This is the first model. The work is more sophisticated and that is why [the development] takes longer to complete, but our objective is to bring the project to other communities.”

Past efforts to improve the favelas have in a sense caused the city to take steps backwards and reinvest in areas that had previously fallen apart. However, these apartments now demonstrate a new standard for public housing in Rio. This is also part of the city’s plan to gear up and prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Cable Car Controversy

The teleférico in Providência Favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

There’s a new cable car system, called Teleférico, that is being planned and built for Rio’s Morro da Providencia favela community. It’s currently set to begin operation in May, and will be the second of its kind in Rio. However, Rio citizens have mixed emotions on its arrival, especially with some residents being evicted to make way for the cable car.

Three stations will make up the cable car system, all linking to Rio’s central train station. It will feature 16 gondolas and have the ability to transport 1,000 people per hour while shuttling along a 721 meter long line. This number may even increase if the demand is shown to be there.

The development is costing R$75 million and is part of a larger R$163 million infrastructure package that is being implemented in the area. The other cable car, similar to this one, was opened in the Complexo do Alemao favela community in Rio in 2011.

Providencia is Rio’s oldest favela community, at 115 years old. It was originally started by veteran’s of Brazil’s Canudos war. The community, previously a drug and crime haven, was ‘pacified’ under the government program in 2010 aimed at restoring law and order to drug communities.

Some residents are positive about the coming of the cable car, stating it will help them negotiate the steep staircases in the favela better. The local residents are even getting 2 free tickets per day for use. The pricing for visitor transportation is not yet set, but expected to be around R$1.

There’s another side to the residents of the favela, however. About 670 families face eviction over the construction in order to make way for two concrete towers to hold the wires for the cable car. The government will supply new homes for evicted residents, but they are reportedly frequently inadequate or too far away. Only a third of the families whose homes are marked for demolition have moved so far because of these concerns. They also believe the cable care line is mostly being built to serve tourists, especially right before the 2016 Olympics are set to be hosted in Rio, and is not a favela resident necessity.

Experts believe Rio is about to see a string of court cases in the months to come as residents are increasingly unhappy, and even accusing the government of not giving them prior warning or enough notice before this construction project began.


More Tourists Being Drawn to Rio’s Favelas

Visitation interest in Rio’s famous favelas has peaked recently, with half the tourists that travel to Rio de Janeiro indicating that they plan to visit one of the city’s favelas, The study done by Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) institution also suggests that Brazilian tourists are more inclined to visit the favelas than foreign tourists are.

Favelas are makeshift housing communities located with the busy streets of Brazil’s most visited city, Rio. They traditionally have been known to have a very high crime rate, as well as a significant amount of its citizens involved with drugs of some sort. Tourists in the past have been instructed to avoid these areas as much as possible so as not to risk their own safety during travels.

Success in the film area, with films such as Cidade de Deus (City of God) and Tropa de Elite (Elite Squade) have helped increase attention to the favelas, and with the government’s pacification program, which has been working on removing drug addicts, thugs, and drug dealers from favela streets, the image of the favelas is a safer and more appealing one. Currently there are thirty Police Pacifying Units (UPPs) set up inside Rio favelas. All these efforts have made these parts of town almost a haven for tourists and Brazilian residents wishing to get away from the prominent beach areas.

The FGV study concluded that 58.2 percent of the Brazilian tourists, who were questioned in Rio’s Tom Jobim airport intended on visiting one of city’s many favelas. Zezinho Da Rocinha, a local tour guide, stated“I have a lot more foreigners, and really very few Brazilians.”

One issue that was revealed in the study, however, was that tourists were not spending a lot of money in the favelas. Thus, the favelas are supporting more tourism, which was wanted by Brazil, but are not bringing in any extra income with tourists mostly just purchasing a small snack here or there. It’s not the tourist’s fault, however, as many companies inside Rio’s favelas are not equipped to cater to tourists.


Favela Communities Offer Inviting New Years Atmosphere

Brazil has been hard at work “pacifying” its favelas. An indication of successful improvement was the fact that many tourists and residents opted to spend New Years Eve 2012/2013 participating in festivities in Rio’s favelas instead of the usual Copacabana Beach. Its been four years now since the Unidade de Policia Pacificadora (UPP) has been established in order to restore peace and order to the hillside favelas, and many of these favelas are now safe enough to enjoy.

Tourists and residents who wished to go all out this New Years had several options for celebrating, including a R$1,000 a head celebration at the top of the Pavao-Pavaozinho favela community that included champagne, whiskey, paella carioca, oxtail rigatoni and more. This location also boasted fabulous views of the beach and fireworks.

Another favela that sits behind Ipanema, Cantegalo offered a similar option, but also included a menu with churrasco and caipirinhas at only E$250 a head. This event was organized by the same man that organized the celebration in Pavao-Pavaozinho and has dedicated all profits to be put towards further community improvements. He stated “The proceeds of the festival go to the residents of Cantagalo and Pavao-Pavãozinho. The party begins with a tour of the favela. For the first time in four years, we will have more Brazilians than gringos.”

The area still continues to witness outbreaks of violence and crime, including a recent shootout between police and drug traffickers, but residents remain optimistic. Creator of the web portal Voz das Comunidades, Rene, states “Christmas was relaxed, several parties took place without any conflict. It’s the first year with the UPP. Expectations are high.” she continues “Before the works under the Accelerated Growth Program (PAC) took place, it was difficult to climb up the Morro do Adeus. There wasn’t any access. Now there is a road which leads to an area with a great view.”

Brazilians expect to see further improvements and success from the UPP.