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View Diary: My Take On The Brazilian Olympics (120 comments)

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  •  quibble (24+ / 0-)

    Favelas are not "government housing" - they are shanty towns (hoovervilles if you will).

    They are incredibly violent, Doctors Without Borders has set up psychiatric clinics there to help the massive number of sufferers of PTSD who dwell there.  

    I think it's great that Rio won for many reasons (one of which is that I'm a Chicagoan and I don't trust Daley as far as I can throw him), but the shantytowns are a big problem in many ways.

    They're unsafe, piled up on hillsides on Forest preserves that were illegally cleared, they're subject to collapse due to mudslides.  There are no real government services there, as a result they are dirty, bad sanitation, little access to fresh water, bad roads, no police presence (except when SWAT teams go in there to arrest some drug baron).  Crime from the shantytowns does make it into the streets of Copacabana and Ipanema (not to mention elsewhere) fairly frequently, but that's mostly muggings and property crime.  The huge murder rate is mostly confined to the shantytowns.  Unfortunately, a lot of people who should be able to afford a better lifestyle are forced to live there (including middle class people) due to the way Rio is designed.  Transportation in Rio is bad - Rio threads its way between mountains and bays, so the city is very spread out.  Traffic is a nightmare (especially if there's a shootout on the highway) often times, and there are only 2 subway lines.  So, people who work in Copa or Ipanema, but can't afford Copa or Ipanema end up living in the Favelas.  They can't live in some other part of Rio, or out in a suburb because the length and unpredictability of the commute.  Whats normally a one hour commute could easily balloon to 3 hours due to a shootout or a car wreck or whatever.  

    And, being late to work is cause for termination.  Not routinely showing up late, or anything like that that could indicate a disciplinary problem.  Just once.  So, if you work in a tourism industry or some other low-skill job, you have to live close by.  

    I hope that Rio can somehow start cleaning up the shantytowns between now and 2016.  Some quality government housing projects and a massive expansion to the subway system would be a great place to start.  Improving the absurdly low pay of the police forces would help (better paid cops are less likely to take bribes and it may be easier to convince them to police the mean streets of the Favelas if you paid them more than $20k a year).

    Overall though, I'm thrilled Rio won.  The Olympics have never been held in such a spectacular location.  The natural beauty of Rio is nigh incomparable.  

    "Yes we can." - President Barack Obama

    by Jerry 101 on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 10:48:32 AM PDT

    •  Great comments, and pretty accurate (5+ / 0-)

      My dad lived there and I visited several times for a month or two.  

      "Just relax and let the hooks do their work." -- Ned Flanders

      by Pangloss on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 10:54:17 AM PDT

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    •  Rio may apparently wall them off (6+ / 0-)

      From the media.  I hope NBC doesn't ignore them as they did China's problems but I fear they will.

      "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

      by skywaker9 on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 10:58:40 AM PDT

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    •  Thanks for this (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SLKRR, skywaker9, cph, Jerry 101, Larsstephens

      I was going to say the same thing.  The Favellas are basically "Squatter" towns where people illegally erected their houses.  As more and more people moved in, little "communities" grew up.

      "Out, out, you demons of stupidity!" ~ Dogbert

      by husl piper 11 on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 11:01:04 AM PDT

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      •  Oops, somehow posted too soon! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skywaker9, cph, Jerry 101, Larsstephens

        anyway, while favellas are slowing growing legitimacy in the Brazillian government, "law enforcement" in the squatter towns are still basically run by gangs who get their funds through bribes and illegal activities as the majority of the legitimate government simply tried to ignore it.

        "Out, out, you demons of stupidity!" ~ Dogbert

        by husl piper 11 on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 11:03:59 AM PDT

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    •  Question (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skywaker9, Jerry 101, Larsstephens

      When we went on our tour of Rio, I thought our guide said that the Favellas were set up by the government, almost as a ghetto, to deal with the poor population.

      "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

      by dmsarad on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 11:05:17 AM PDT

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    •  Excellent comment (5+ / 0-)

      I was going to mention that about the favelas, but you covered the topic thoroughly and accurately.

      There are a few favelas that were set up by the government.  As I recall, Cidade de Deus (City of God) was one of them that was built as a housing project in the '60s or '70s which later descended into the same type of situation as other favelas.  Most of them are exactly as you describe - squatter communities.  And as you said, many are near the rich parts of the city because they are where the domestic workers (maids) live who work in Zona Sul (Ipanema, Leblon, Copacabana, etc.)  And it's also where the drug dealers live who sell drugs to the rich of Zona Sul.

      For the record, I've lived in Brazil for 6 1/2 years now, 5 months of which was in Rio.  I'm ecstatic that Brazil is going to host both the World Cup and the Olympics.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." -- Dom Hélder Câmara

      by SLKRR on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 11:26:11 AM PDT

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      •  I appreciate the kind words (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SLKRR, bronte17, dmsarad, Larsstephens

        I recently read that Chile has been having a great deal of success in clearing its own shantytowns and moving the people into better accomodations.  Perhaps Brazil can look to their example for a path toward getting people out those places.

        Interesting to learn that some did start out as government housing projects.

        "Yes we can." - President Barack Obama

        by Jerry 101 on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 02:03:30 PM PDT

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