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Monthly Digest

Latest News and Opinion on and from
Rio de Janeiro's Favelas

May 2016
Volume VI Issue 5
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Welcome to our May Digest with the latest news from RioOnWatch (Rio Olympics Neighborhood Watch), Catalytic Communities' project to bring visibility to favela perspectives on the rapid transformations underway in Rio through August's Olympic Games. For this month's RioOnWatch articles see below and for an exhaustive list of news reports and features on favelas from the full range of English-language media sources, see the right-hand column. Should this email appear clipped, please click to view the entire message in your browser.

As Rio grapples with a spike in murders, Jailson de Souza e Silva of the Favelas Observatory reflected on the 'demonization of the other' that sustains acceptance of poor, black youth's deaths. His message is pertinent to the brutal gang rape of a 16 year-old in Santa Cruz, which stoked a heated national conversation about the banality of rape culture in Brazil. 

In a period of intensified conflict police suffer too, and research shows Rio's Military Police have higher rates of suicide than the rest of the population. 
The ComPosições Políticas art exhibit responded to the question of State violence and its representation in the media, while one of the exhibits itself sparked controversy over racism in representations of violence. 

The exhibit also featured Vila Autódromo, where construction on new houses has begun and will leave very little of the original favela behind. Two great successes this month, however, were the launch of the Evictions Museum and the awarding of the Rio State Assembly's first-ever Dandara Award to former resident Heloisa Helena for her struggle.

On a visit to Parque Carioca public housing RioOnWatch heard from former Vila Autódromo residents who are frustrated with their new lives there. Meanwhile, remaining residents of Praia do Sossego faced the threat of imminent eviction without a guarantee of public housing as compensation. The right to housing is guaranteed at all levels of Brazilian law. But challenges facing ongoing urban occupations from São Paulo to Rio show that right is not truly guaranteed for all.

Occupations continue at State public schools too, with Rio student occupiers connecting in solidarity with counterparts in other states as aggression towards their activism rises.

This past month also saw rising concerns about the interim president's policies threatening key social programs including public housing and PAC investment projects.
The city's stalled Morar Carioca program may still be implemented in Pica-Pau and neighboring communities following a launch this month. But after years of waiting, however, residents hesitate to raise their hopes. Other failed Olympic legacy projects include the abandoned promise to plant 24 million trees and the collapse of the popular bike path.

In more positive community news, we profiled a tour guide from Rocinha and documented oral memories from the favela of Julio Otoni. We also spotlighted City of God's 'CDD Acontece' platform dedicated to covering good news and great community initiatives often ignored by other media.

Don't miss 
CatComm's Theresa Williamson explain in a New York Times debate why holding the Olympics in Rio was always a bad idea, and her point-by-point response to Rio's Mayor Eduardo Paes in The Nation sports journalist Dave Zirin's podcast.

In an effort to improve reporting on favelas in the lead up to the Olympics, this month CatComm launched our Olympics Resources for Journalists, which was recognized by the International Journalists' Network. Please make sure all your journalist friends take a peak!

Finally, we want to thank everyone--that's all of you--for engaging with and contributing to RioOnWatch since it launched six years ago this month. Thanks to all our joint effort, RioOnWatch was this month recognized as a Webby Awards honoree for 'best community websites.'


We hope you enjoy this month's carefully compiled digest. Please share and don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Parque Carioca has been used extensively by Mayor Eduardo Paes' administration as a model example of the Minha Casa Minha Vida public housing program. However, conditions do not reflect the administration’s rhetoric.
  "When you are fighting for your house, and your most basic needs–like safety and public health–trees are left behind. To talk to the City about the trees… I left it for last. But I should not feel bad protesting the[ir cutting the] trees. Trees should be the first [priority]… Without oxygen we have nothing.” 
  The brutal gang rape of a 16 year old girl by 33 men in a favela in Santa Cruz in the West Zone has generated widespread horror and outrage. Videos and photos of the girl’s ordeal were published and shared more than 500 times on Twitter with comments celebrating the attack before the accounts were suspended.
 
1454772_660130140779301_4059009077756857508_n-620x264Community Media Profile: CDD Acontece
by David Robertson | May 26
CDD Acontece is a successful community media platform in the City of God favela in Rio de Janeiro’s West Zone. It was created in August 2011 by resident Carla Siccos and has since grown rapidly, with the Facebook page reaching almost 40,000 likes, of which Siccos believes about 30,000 are residents.
  The Julio Otoni favela in Santa Teresa sits on one of Rio de Janeiro’s many hills, looking out towards the Guanabara Bay. From the top of the favela you can see both Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer, two of Rio’s most famous tourist attractions in one amazing panorama. The community is home to 400 families, more than 2,000 people in total. 
  Besides the risk of dying in combat, police also have a greater chance of committing suicide. Long working hours, being away from home and family, lack of professional recognition and an absence of psychological support are all contributing factors. Supporters and residents gathered in Vila Autódromo on Wednesday, May 18, to celebrate the launch of a new open air museum, the Museu das Remoções, or Evictions Museum. Seven exhibits each honor a building or home that was demolished, as well as the wider struggle that residents of the community faced.
  In their first week in office, newly appointed ministers under interim President Michel Temer announced sweeping policy changes, including considerable cuts to social policies aimed at assisting low-income Brazilians, striking devastating blows to hallmark programs of Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva and Dilma Rousseff’s administrations.
  The new homes will be professionally built, throwing Vila Autódromo’s status as a favela into doubt. It is as if the City wants to wipe the slate clean and start again, rebuilding Vila Autódromo in a way that fits with the surrounding condominiums of Barra da Tijuca.
  The occupation at the Mendes de Moraes school in Ilha do Governador, the first school to be occupied in the current wave of student protests taking place across Brazil, has been forced to disband. Students there were subject to consecutive attacks beginning on May 6 and occurring daily between May 9 and 13.
  In the favelas, the political reform required is simply the guarantee of life to enable political participation in the widest sense of social organization in favor of common demands. The fight is to stay alive when faced with a murderous Military Police and a war on drugs that victimizes people each day, including police officers.
  The truth is that after nearly 120 years of favelas being permitted to develop into the primary vehicle for social housing in Brazil, the nation has established relatively strong squatter’s rights. And yet, Brazil bears fame as one of the countries with the worst land inequality in the world. 
  On Wednesday May 11, Heloisa Helena Costa Berto, an Afro-Brazilian Candomblé priestess, also known by her Candomblé name Luizinha of Nanã, whose home and spiritual center in Vila Autódromo were demolished to make way for the Olympic Park, received the Dandara Award from the Rio de Janeiro State Assembly.
  In the center of São Paulo the Fight for Housing Front celebrated a major success: the legal rights of ownership to the grandiose building that was formerly the Lord Palace Hotel would be turned over to those who occupied it and have been residing there for almost three and a half years.
  Erik is cria, a colloquial term which describes those who were born and bred in the favela, and he wears the tag proudly. Accompanying him on a stroll through the streets of Rocinha, friends and family stop to catch up with him, students from the Fastz Language Institute greet him warmly and fellow tour guides introduce him to their foreign visitors.
  The occupants of the Vito Giannotti Occupation received news of the latest obstacle in their fight to turn a previously abandoned hotel into subsidized affordable housing units: a “writ of repossession” from a judge that would force residents to leave and would turn the building back over to the Brazilian Social Security Administration.
  Last Saturday, May 7, the City launched long-awaited Morar Carioca upgrades in the Cordovil region of Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone. Five communities will receive upgrades in this phase of the program: Pica-Pau, Brás de Pina, Bom Jardim, Roraima and Divineia. 
  Six years after the storm, the calm is still far from arriving. Of the 3,200 families displaced in the tragedy that caused a number of landslides across the city of Niterói, 2,646 still haven’t received the homes promised by authorities at the time.
  Semente do Amanhã has been providing cultural education and safe recreational spaces for children in the Vila Aliança favela in Bangu for the last 28 years. The biggest obstacle currently facing the NGO is the effect of increased violence in the local area on its funding streams.
  From April 2 through May 21, the Hélio Oiticica Municipal Art Center is hosting the exhibition Political ComPositions: Other Histories of Rio de Janeiro. The exhibit's 19 works take as their aesthetic and conceptual starting point recent images from Rio’s favelas and peripheries that circulated widely on traditional and social media.
  In the context of the greatest economic and social development of the country in decades, with a significant reduction of poverty and inequality, we have also seen an almost 40% increase in lethal violence. This buries once-and-for-all the myth that poverty is the cause of violence.
  Students currently occupying public high schools across Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Ceará took to the streets on the morning of May 4 in an act of solidarity. Street protests were staged to refute government attempts to frame issues raised by students as belonging to individual schools, rather than symptomatic of a wider problem.
  Irenaldo and his neighbors are used to waiting: Pica-Pau was selected for Morar Carioca in 2011 and interventions began in 2012, only to be abandoned, even though it may be one of the areas most in need of urgent infrastructure upgrades in Rio.
 
CidadeOlimpica-1-620x264 (1)Three Months to Go: Checking in on Rio’s Olympic Legacy Promises by Adam Talbot, Cerianne Robertson | May 5
With exactly three months to go to the Opening Ceremony and many legacy projects delivered or underway, it’s an important moment to take stock of the “social and urban transformations” promised to Cariocas.
  Starting on Friday May 6, the last house standing on Praia do Sossego, a traditional fishing community on the ocean-facing side of Niterói could be demolished. As of May 4, residents have not yet been granted Minha Casa Minha Vida public housing units or a plan for resettlement within the area.
  On April 21, a 50-meter stretch of the seaside Tim Maia bike path collapsed under a strong wave near the São Conrado neighborhood in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, killing at least two. Victims included Rocinha resident and street-sweeper Ronaldo Severino da Silva, and 54 year-old engineer Eduardo Marinho de Albuquerque.
  The anti-Olympics MonstruáRio 2016 exhibit by Rio de Janeiro comedian Rafucko, an “anti-souvenir shop” for the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games, has been accused of racism by Black activists for appropriating and exploiting the struggles of Black people in the city.
 
 

May
in the Media

 
The Guardian May 31
Rio Olympics: views from the favelas – 'I think policing is a beautiful profession' by Carla Kweifio-Okai, Beth McLoughlin

NPR May 31
As Olympics Near, Violence Grips Rio's 'Pacified' Favelas by Lulu Garcia-Navarro

IBTimes May 31
Road to Rio: As Crime Explodes In Rio, Private Security Forces Step In As Protectors by Eric Markowitz

Counterfire May 30
The Exclusion Games: what went wrong with Brazil’s Olympic dream? by Adam Talbot

The Washington Post May 30
Many Brazilians are outraged over a brutal gang rape. Others blame the victim by Dom Phillips

Yahoo! News May 30
Rio police hunt gang rape suspects by AFP

Mother Jones May 30
"No Flag to March Behind": The Amazing Story of Rio's All-Refugee Olympic Team by Ian Gordon

Thomas Reuters Foundation May 27
Award-winning architect builds 'half houses', says slums should inspire by Matthew Ponsford

COHA* May 27
Rio de Janeiro’s Bitter 2016 Olympic Evictions by Rachael Hilderbrand, Jonas Schlotterbeck

CCTV America May 27
Brazilians outraged after 16-year-old gang raped in favela by Lucrecia C. Franco

DW May 27
Mass gang rape of teen in Brazil uploaded by perpetrators to social media by Francisco Perez

The Globe and Mail May 26
Tweets of gang rape in Rio de Janeiro highlight breakdown of order by Stephanie Nolen

UK Business Insider May 26
The Olympics are 2 months away, and Rio has a huge police-brutality problem by Christopher Woody

Cognoscenti May 26
The Road To Rio Is Paved With Broken Promises by E. M. Swift

National Post* May 26
Every Olympics face predictions of doom preceding the games, but the health concerns over Rio feel different by Michael Petrou

The New Indian Express May 26
Gunmen run wild in Rio tourist spots ahead of Olympics by AFP

International Displacement Monitoring Centre*
Global Report on Internal Displacement

The Wall Street Journal May 25
Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro State Misses Debt Payment by Paul Kiernan, Luciana Magalhães

Reuters May 25
Exclusive: Brazil investigating possible corruption at Olympic venues by Brad Brooks

The Guardian May 24
From the favelas: the rise of rooftop solar projects in Brazil by Heriberto Araújo

The Economic Times May 24
Rio artists highlight city's violent underbelly by IANS

The Guardian May 23
Rio de Janeiro: Extreme City by Luiz Eduardo Soares – review by John Kampfner

Huffington Post* May 23
Everything Is Going Wrong In Brazil Ahead Of The Olympics by Travis Waldron

The Intercept May 23
New Political Earthquake in Brazil: Is It Now Time for Media Outlets to Call This a “Coup”? by Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, David Miranda

The New York Times May 22
Entrusted to Save Brazil: The Party That Ruined Rio by Simon Romero

Edge of Sports* May 20
The Olympics and the Battle for Rio's Future: Interview with Mayor Eduardo Paes and Activist Theresa Williamson by Dave Zirin

The Guardian May 20
Brazil's interim government wastes no time erasing Workers' party influence by Jonathan Watts

Yahoo! News May 20
Brazil denies suspending home subsidies, as policy signals blur by Brad Haynes

COHA May 20
Brazilian Youth in Conflict by Rachael Hilderbrand

Latin American Herald Tribune
Badminton Leads a Young “Favela” Athlete to Olympics

Insight Crime May 19
Rio Favelas Fear Police More Than Drug Traffickers: Survey by David Gagne

The Guardian* May 19
Olympic athletes must exercise their right to speak beyond their sport by Laurence Halsted

The Guardian May 19
Rio de Janeiro review – the dark side of Brazil’s ‘Marvellous City’ by Misha Glenny

International Journalists' Network* May 18
RioOnWatch launches guide to encourage nuanced news coverage of Rio Olympics by Sheila Taylor

Yahoo! Sports May 18
Countdown to Rio: Demolition derby of peoples' homes by Eric Adelson

Thomson Reuters Foundation* May 18
Meet the Brazilian man who sells property nobody owns by Chris Arsenault

The Wall Street Journal May 18
Brazilian Artist Vik Muniz Builds a School in Rio by Carol Kino

South Platte Sentinel May 18
Miles using education to help break poverty cycle by Forrest Hershberger

Open Democracy May 17
Searching for an alternative to the ‘war on drugs’ in Rio de Janeiro by Ignacio Cano


UK Business Insider May 17
Thousands of Olympics tourists will stay in these hostels that were built in the middle of Rio's slums — take a look inside by Sarah Jacobs

Reuters May 17
Tito Jackson traces brother Michael's steps in new favela video


Market Business News May 17
1bn people and 158 trillion dollars of assets at risk due to climate change World Bank by Christian Nordqvist

The New York Times* May 16
Holding the Olympics in Rio Was Always a Bad Idea by Theresa Williamson

The New York Times May 16
On With the Summer Games, and Bring on the Protests by Jules Boykoff

The New York Times May 16
Postponing the Olympics Is the Safe Course of Action by Christopher Gaffney

i News May 16
Meeting Brazil’s public enemy number one, the violent gang ‘owner’ of a Rio de Janeiro favela by Luiz Eduardo Soares

CityLab May 16
A Digital Dive Into Rio de Janeiro's Past by Tanvi Misra

Inside the Games May 15
Rio 2016 subway to open just four days before Olympics by Dan Palmer

IBTimes* May 13
Rio Olympics Crime Risk: ‘If You’re A White, Wealthy Foreigner, You’re Safe’ Despite Brazil’s Murderous Reputation by Angelo Young

USA Today May 12
WHO to Rio Olympic visitors: Don't go to poor parts of city 
by AP

The New York Times May 12
Making Brazil’s Political Crisis Worse by The Editorial Board

The Nation May 12
Dispatch From Rio: An Interview With the Activist Behind the ‘Olympic Anti-Souvenir Shop’ by Dave Zirin

The Guardian May 12
Visions of heaven and hell: life on the fringes of the world's biggest cities by Adam Hinton


Lonely Planet May 11
Olympic Games: huge demand for budget accommodation in Rio’s favela hostels by PJ Cunningham

The Rio Times May 11
Rio’s Santa Marta Favela Opens Tourist Information Desk by Charlotte Markham

Channel News Asia May 11
From violence to the Olympics, all in their hometown by Paulo Prada


Medium* May 11
4 lessons from Rio’s ‘flawed’ smart cities initiative by Eric Jaffe

Amnesty International May 10
The dark side of Rio 2016: 20 families win fight to stay in their homes

Culinary Backstreets* May 10
Pastel da Carmen: Midnight Munchies in the City of God by Taylor Barnes


Broadly* May 10
Rio Is Preparing for the Olympics with Forced Evictions and Rivers of Sewage by Mich Cardin

RioReal Blog May 10
Current events seem chaotic, but are not by Julia Michaels


The Nation May 10
Dispatch From Rio: The Muted Olympic Hype Is Deafening 
by Dave Zirin
 
The Wall Street Journal May 9

Rio 2016 May 9
Rio 2016 takes Olympic and Paralympic sports to Rocinha favela

Business Standard May 7
6 killed in shootouts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by IANS
 
The Nation May 6
Are Brazil’s Corruption Scandals Finally Hitting the Olympics? by Dave Zirin
 
DW May 5
Brazil travel on a shoestring: Favela hostels in Rio by Dagmar Breitenbach
 
The Rio Times May 4
Rio’s Gondola in Complexo de Alemão Extends Operating Hours by Charlotte Markham
 
Malay Mail Online May 4
Rio’s slum hostels offer alternative Olympic housing by Reuters
 
Financial Times May 3

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