Favelas in Rio de Janeiro

27 Mar

On Sunday we took a tour of Rio’s famous (or infamous) favelas. Favelas are shantytowns of poor people who build up illegal residences in the hills of Rio. These areas are all controlled by drug lords and provide security for the residents. Favelas are unofficially recognized by the government–the citizens have a vote and access to healthcare, but they don’t pay any taxes.

During our tour of Favela Rocinha, we never felt threatened because the government recently raided the place and eliminated the dealers in this particular favela 3 months ago. The process is called “pacification.” This favela was full of people going about their ordinary business (in this case, buying groceries at the Sunday market). It actually didn’t look too different from regular poor areas in Oakland or Los Angeles, except the housing is much, much denser.

Random facts: our tour guide told us that many famous Brazilian soccer players come from favelas. Scouts visit favelas and pick out kids that show talent, bring them into the city to train. After playing locally, the players end up in Europe where they become rich, retire, get fat, play golf, and enter politics. Example: Ronaldo and Romario. (side note: Jerry told me that Brazilian players go by one name- for example, Pele).

Favelas can pop up overnight sometimes on an unclaimed mountain side.

The favela population makes up 2 million of Rio’s 7 million population.

They are an integral part of Carnaval. They make the costumes and perform in parades. Our guide said the hottest and prettiest girls that perform in Carnaval come from favelas.

The biggest problem in the favela is not drugs, but alcoholism.

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There is only one road in and out of favelas. Makes access very controlled.

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Everyone has satellite TV. The highest priority for all residents in favelas is to have a big screen plasma tv in order for them to watch soccer games.

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Somehow the wires work!

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Very narrow hallways.

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One Response to “Favelas in Rio de Janeiro”

  1. Oscar March 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM #

    very interesting tour….I like the spaghetti wiring–must be difficult to untangle and troubleshoot.

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