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Monthly Digest

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

September 2016
Volume VI Issue 9
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Welcome to our September digest with the latest news from RioOnWatch (Rio Olympics Neighborhood Watch), Catalytic Communities' project to bring visibility to favela perspectives on the rapid transformations in Rio through the 2016 Olympic Games and beyond. 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.

September's Paralympic Games raised a much-needed discussion around accessibility in Rio de Janeiro, and we featured the insights of a wheelchair rugby player from Rocinha and a visually impaired athlete from Complexo da Maré. On the Olympics, we reviewed both a critical HBO documentary on the International Olympic Committee and the film Olympia, which tackles corruption in the Olympic City. 

Following the Games, Rio has been swept up in campaigns for the municipal elections, with eleven candidates running for mayor. Of the eleven candidates, only five have offered specific proposals for the city's favelas and only six discuss social housing policy in their manifestos. But favelas are playing an unprecedented visible role in the elections, with mayoral debates held in Maré on September 15 and Mangueira on September 18. A number of favela-based candidates are also running for City Council positions, such as Marielle Franco from Maré.

Targeted violence against local government candidates in Greater Rio's Baixada Fluminense region was one of the issues highlighted in a recent comprehensive report on human rights violations in the region. Two creative bicycle tours have highlighted the importance of policies that serve all parts of the metropolitan area and address infrastructure failings in regions like the Baixada.

Brazil's record-high 35 political parties guarantee for complicated elections. Still more complicated, perhaps, is the country's notoriously messy tax code, which perpetuates inequalities through high tax burdens on the poor. Despite high tax rates, government services often fail to meet demands for residents of Rio's gated communities and favelas alike.

Following the official impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, many favela residents fear what the political shift means for their communities, and we published opinion pieces from community journalists Gizele Martins of Maré and Cléber Araujo of Alemão. Urbanist Orlando Santos Junior outlines the shift towards conservative urban policy that is accompanying the political transition.

One of the policies at risk is the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC) investments: 
Rocinha still awaits long-promised PAC investments in sanitation and PAC housing was recently the focus of a public audience bringing together residents of Alemão, Jacarezinho, Caju and Manguinhos. 

Minha Casa Minha Vida public housing has come under attack as residents report receiving debt notices despite receiving the homes as compensation for eviction. The psychological impacts of these ongoing eviction-related stresses may be severe, alongside other mental health risks facing favela residents. While Vila Autódromo's remaining residents continued resistance events with a cultural occupation, the eviction battle is ramping up in Horto as residents held more protests

The month has also been tense in Alemão, where the cable car will be suspended for six months, violent police operations continue, and activists have been threatened. Favela media activism has played a big role in reporting these events and, in this context, 
accessible hotlines for reporting abuses are essential.

Also this month, we highlighted the community reporting and family initiative of Girasol Comunicações as well as local memory preservation in the Sankofa Museum in Rocinha. We profiled the incredible Theater of the Oppressed's work in Maré, an Afro Spring event aimed at valuing black beauty and culture, and the community of Rio das Pedras, where autonomous local economic networks have protected some residents from the worst of the recession.

Local creativity and cooperation were key themes in the first in a series of articles on solidarity economy as well as in research on how teachers in favela schools overcome substantial obstacles. Creativity and cooperation were also focuses of The Global Summit, an event in RIo in late August that drew together individuals and organizations—including CatComm—working towards a more sustainable world. Meanwhile, individual initiatives featured in both the second installment of our series on how people build favela homes and in NPR's look at the woman who took it on herself to deliver mail in Rocinha.

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

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On Sunday, September 25, the Vila Autódromo community organized yet another occupation event entitled Ocupa Vila Autódromo celebrating resistance, memory and hope
  The cable car will not run again until 2017, which Rio de Janeiro’s state transport secretary says is due to an “atypical wearing down of traction cables,” discovered during a routine inspection.
  The goal is to decentralize wealth, root wealth in communities, and financially and politically empower stakeholders participating in these structures toward another, more just, economy. 
  Of the 11 candidates running for mayor of Rio de Janeiro, only six talk about social housing in their manifestos: Pedro Paulo Carvalho Teixeira, Marcelo Freixo, Cyro Garcia, Jandira Feghali, Índio da Costa, and Carlos Osório.
  Since its inception in 1988, Brazil's tax system has remarkably managed to impose a gross tax burden on par with countries in Northern Europe but sustains inequality rates similar to those found in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  Theater of the Oppressed is an internationally celebrated participatory form of theater invented in Rio, in which there are no spectators, just spect-actors. TO was originally created by writer, director, and politician Augusto Boal in the 1960s, first in Brazil, and then further developed during his dictatorship-era exile in Europe.
 
JR_senado-sessao-deliberativa-ordinaria_06032015016-620x264Backgrounder: Demystifying Brazil’s Web of Political Parties [REFERENCE] by Ciara Ní Longaigh, Eli Nemzer, Rodrigo Arantes | May 20 
Brazil’s political system is characterized by a large number of political parties–35 in total, more than double the number of any other country–that are forced to form a constantly-changing maze of alliances and coalitions in order to govern.
 
collage-2016-09-222-768x193How do Rio’s Mayoral Candidates Stack up on Favelas? by Ciara Ní Longaigh | September 25
Most of Rio de Janeiro’s mayoral candidates pay lip service to the city’s favelas somewhere in their housing policy proposals, but of Rio’s 11 mayoral candidates only five have offered specific proposals for favelas.

rsz_14344223_973221696133330_3537430569824069605_n-620x264 (1)Rio Mayoral Candidates Meet the Favelas at Public Debate in Mangueira by Laura Bachmann | September 24 
Over 400 people came to hear the candidates respond to questions from favela residents. All 11 candidates were invited to the event, with eight confirming and six actually attending the debate.

collage-2016-09-22-1-620x264 (2)Meet Rio’s Mayoral Candidates by Ciara Ní Longaigh | September 23
Here are the candidates running for Mayor presented in order of most to least popular according to a recent poll data published by DataFolha.
  With the elections fast approaching, the non-profit organization Rede Livre recently launched the #VereadoresQueQueremos campaign to provide visibility and media resources on select candidates running for city council in various municipalities throughout Brazil.
  According to Casa Fluminense, more than half the residents of Japeri spend more than an hour commuting to work each day, contributing to a life expectancy for Japeri residents that is two years shorter than for residents of Rio city. 

1-620x264 (2)Visually Impaired Maré Resident Edivandro Rosa Makes Athleticism His Profession by Maria da Conceição Rodrigues, Thaís Cavalcante | September 21
Anyone walking around Maré’s Olympic Village in the morning already knows who trains there: Edivandro Rosa, 38, who made the space a stepping stone in learning how to live with blindness.

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State Teachers in Rio’s Favelas Describe Challenges and Hope for Change by Raven Hayes | September 21
While many gaps exist within the education system in Rio de Janeiro, teachers and school professionals are creating their own solutions to ensure students’ success.
  At this time, no further action has been taken by the the Botanical Gardens or the federal government, but residents expect the Gardens to take steps towards evicting the community after municipal elections on October 2, or, if a runoff is also held, after October 30.
 
14370266_1172806452789559_1735997529976710834_n-620x264Complexo da Maré Hosts Debate with Rio’s Mayoral Candidates by Laura Bachmann, Laura Fairman | September 20 
The debate was organized by A Maré que Queremos (The Maré That We Want), a collective of community leaders representing the 16 favelas that constitute Maré. While all 11 mayoral candidates were invited to participate, on Thursday evening three were present.
  The report “A Brazil within Brazil Calls for Help: Watchdog Report on State Negligence in the Baixada Fluminense and Possible Urgent Solutions,” highlights the dire human rights situation within the region.
 
rsz_img_4875-620x264 (1)Is There a Paralympic Legacy for Rio’s Favelas? by Lisa Hollenbach | September 17
The Paralympic Games were supposed to be a turning point for the estimated 45 million Brazilians with a physical disability, leaving “a legacy of accessibility,” as announced by the Brazilian Olympic Committee.
  The event took place in Campo de Santana park in Rio’s downtown area, where about 150 people gathered throughout the day to discuss institutional racism and black identity, display fashion created by black designers, practice capoeira, dance to hip-hop and black Brazilian music, and support local black entrepreneurs and artists.
 
Cleber-620x264 (2)We Are Bleeding Together with Democracy [OPINION] by Cléber Araujo | September 15
A collapse is imminent, the masses did not accept this nonsense silently and we are on the streets in crowds shouting loud and clear: LEAVE… Out with the overthrowing and thieving government.
  Dr. Leonardo Custódio shares results of his doctoral research on the growth in political organizing thanks to favela media activists since Rio was announced host to the 2016 Olympic Games.
  Not formally mapped online, the expansive community of Rio das Pedras sits in Rio de Janeiro’s West Zone between the neighborhoods of Itanhangá, Jacarepaguá, and Anil. Despite the prevalence of “Tijuca” in defining its space and in its history, Rio das Pedras has created its own distinct identity.
  The report “A Brazil within Brazil Calls for Help: Watchdog Report on State Negligence in the Baixada Fluminense and Possible Urgent Solutions,” highlights the dire human rights situation within the region.
 
Fogo-Cruzado-620x264 (1)Rio Hotlines: Denouncing Rights Violations by Alix Vadot | September 12
This article provides a brief summary of some of the rights guaranteed by laws in Brazil, and how violations of these rights can be denounced in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
 
Constitution-1988-e1471715783842-620x264 (1)In Brazil, No One Seems to “Earn” Their Human Rights by Christian Kuitert | September 12 
In a series of interviews with residents of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and gated communities on the subject of basic services that should be guaranteed as human rights some interviewees described a social contract in which contributing to society is expected or even required in order to “earn” rights to basic services.
  Olympia is a jarring new documentary-fiction film that explores the nature of corruption in the lead up to the 2016 Olympic Games. The film, which was successfully crowdfunded and completed in just six months, is set for release on September 15.
 
Girasol-Comunicacoes-Natalia-Urbina-and-her-daughter-620x264 (1)Community Media Profile: Girasol Comunicações by Mikayla Ribeiro | September 9
“Girasol Comunicações arose as a family initiative of autonomous popular communication addressing the need to disseminate what happens in favelas, such as different cultural and political activities."
  But I know that there is a difference between the PT and the current government. At least the PT offered us crumbs. The current government doesn’t even offer us that.
  This is Part 2 of the Building the Favela series, a collection of stories of how people build their homes. The informality of Rio’s favelas means residents use their creativity and own know-how to build almost every structure that exists there.
  From August 23 to 30, Rio de Janeiro hosted the 5th The Global Summit at the Earth Sciences Museum in Urca. The event sought to give voice to diverse people and organizations that work toward a more sustainable world.
  On Wednesday August 31, the senate approved the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party with 61 votes for and 20 votes against, despite the fact that there was no crime of fiscal responsibility.
  The mayor, Eduardo Paes, promised free compensation housing, leaving the responsibility of repaying the property loan to the municipality instead of the owners. But in Colônia, residents continued to receive debt notices from creditors and are now being labeled as “bad payers.”
 
August-Digest-1-620x264 (1)Favelas In the News: August 2016 by Cerianne Robertson | September 6
August 2016: the month the city of Rio de Janeiro had prepared for for seven tumultuous years. To help our readers digest the major news and themes of the month, we’ve summarized the stories we published here on RioOnWatch along with a few other must-reads in the media on favelas.
  The hearing was organized by the Land and Housing Nucleus of the Public Defenders Office along with community leaders from Alemão, Jacarezinho, and Manguinhos. 
  The museum emerged in 2008 from a series of discussions around the Cultural Plan of Rocinha, but the desire to document and share Rocinha’s rich history is nothing new.
  The ride helped kick off the organization’s #Rio2017 campaign, which has harnessed the dialogue and participation of numerous civil society groups into its Agenda 2017, a list of actionable ideas to improve life in the city in the post-Olympic period.
 
BS_prefeito-Rio-de-Janeiro-Eduardo-Paes-inauguracao-Transolimpica-Rio-2016_004-620x264The Political Coup and the Conservative Shift in Urban Policy in Brazil by Orlando Alves dos Santos Junior | September 2
To understand the coup and its impact on urban policy, it’s useful to identify the changes in political climate that have taken place over time.
  Cenira was one of approximately 800 families who lost their homes in the Vila Autódromo favela because of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Ever since, her life has taken a dramatic turn. She entered into a state of deep depression and confesses that she lost the will to live.
  Three years after government officials announced that Rocinha would be the third favela in Rio to receive a cable car transport system, community activists continue to demand that the funds for the project be redirected to address more urgent priorities.
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September
in the Media

 
Ozy September 30
A favela-born political up-and-comer in Brazil by Anna Jean Kaiser 

RioReal Blog September 30
2016 Elections: looking for what we’ve already found by Julia Michaels

Children Win September 29
Child rights violations at Rio Olympics exposed

NPR September 29
For Affirmative Action, Brazil Sets Up Controversial Boards To Determine Race by Lulu Garcia-Navarro

The Daily Taxan September 29
Visiting professor from Brazil discusses favela tourism after Olympics by Wesley Story

Winnipeg Free Press September 29
Jennifer Hudson inspired to become environmental campaigner by son by Bang Showbiz

Net September 28
Yemi Alade is shooting a music video at the same location Micheal Jackson did 20 years ago by Adedayo Showemimo

NPR September 27
Postal Worker Faces Unusual Challenges Working In Rio's Favelas by Lulu Garcia-Navarro

The Wall Street Journal September 26
Killings of Candidates Cast a Shadow Over Rio Elections by Paul Kiernan, Benjamin Parkin

Reuters September 25
Local candidate killed in Rio suburb, highlighting crime woes by Paulo Prada

Al Jazeera September 25
Brazil racism: Police killing of favela residents increased during Rio games [VIDEO]

Medium* September 24
We need to talk about mental health in Rio’s favelas by Felipe Araujo

The Globe and Mail September 23
As Brazilian economy sputters, 'Class C' families lose hard-won gains by Stephanie Nolen

Children Win September 23
Breaking Records: Child Rights Violations during the Rio 2016 Olympics [VIDEO]

Bleacher Report September 22
The Fierce Urgency of Melo by Lars Anderson

star2 September 22
How Google Maps is changing Rio de Janeiro's urban slums by Elroi Yee

BNamericas September 21
Rio favela water, sewerage PPP plans advance by Daniel Bland

The New York Times September 19
Brazil's Olympic Legacy: Teenage Girls Tackle Taboos Through Sport by Reuters

BBC September 19
Rio 2016: What legacy means to next generation by [VIDEO]

Metro September 19
I spent a month in ‘the dark heart of Rio’ during the Olympics – and would go again by Michael Cantillon

The Washington Post September 18
Outside Rio’s Paralympics, Brazil’s disabled battle to be seen by Dom Phillips

The Conversation September18
‘Grotesque spectacle’? Rio has a long way to go to become more accessible by Tracey J Dickson, Jorge Knijnik, Simon Darcy

First Post September 17
Paralympics 2016 athletes, Rio favela children teach each other about overcoming obstacles by AFP

Deutsche Welle September 16
Paralympics: The fastest man in the favela by Bianca Kopsch


Vice September 15
Inside the Rio Rap Scene Calling Out Police Brutality by Angela Almeida, John Surico

Geostadia September 15
A long and short goodbye to the country of the eternal present by Christopher Gaffney

Vice September 15
Land of Black Milk by Stefanie Moshammer

Black Women of Brazil September 14
Black Rio: Exposition, documentary and book recover the history of the ‘bailes black’ (black soul dances) of 1970s Rio de Janeiro by Silvio Essinger

Forbes September 14
Brazil Government Won't Let Rio Go Broke As Bailout Seems Likely by Kenneth Rapoza

Global Construction Review September 13
Are the Olympics … evil? by Rod Sweet

Reuters September 13
Brazil launches privatization plan to rescue economy by Leonardo Goy

New Statesman September 12
On the road in Rio: will the Paralympic legacy bring equality for Brazilians with disabilities? by Felipe Araujo

InSight Crime September 12
Political Killings in Rio Raise Fears of Crime Infested Elections by Mike LaSusa

National Post September 12
Unmanned hot-air balloon rams into Paralympic arena, likely after floating over from Rio favela: organizer by AP

Forbes September 12
A Look At Brazil's Poverty Rate After 14 Years Of Workers' Party Rule by Kenneth Rapoza

The Economist September 10
Slavery’s legacies

The Guardian September 10
Rio's favelas to Brighton's North Laine: the entrepreneurs tackling food waste by Emma Fowle

JOE. ie September 10
An Irishman's footage from inside one of Rio's most famous favelas by Joe Harrington

Independent September 9
Revealed: What Donald Drumpf has really been up to in Latin America by Martín Sivak, Thiago Domenici, Ariel Riera, Sandra Crucianelli

PRI September 9
The Paralympics are on. But here's what it's really like to live with disabilities in Rio by Will Carless

Christian Today September 8
Can a postcode change a life? Yes, if you live in a São Paulo favela by Laura Ouseley

Reuters September 6
The botanical garden poised to swallow a Brazilian favela by Angela Almeida, John Surico

Transparency International September 5
The role of the press at the Olympic Games: A first-hand account by Jamil Chade

The Telegraph September 5
'Life is extremely difficult for disabled people in Rio' by The Telegraph

The Wall Street Journal September 5
Conservative Brazil Leader Michel Temer Shies Away From Cutting Social Aid by Benjamin Parkin

BBC September 5
Brazil: Police use tear gas at anti-Temer protest

cool mom picks September 4
The Favela Art Project: bettering the lives of kids in Rio through art

Thomson Reuters Foundation September 2
The woman behind Brazil's domestic violence law: 'I can't give up the fight' by Jo Griffin

Geostadia September 2
Scorched earth by Christopher Gaffney

The Atlantic September 1
A Favela's Funky Farewell to Brazil's Ousted President by Catherine Osborn

CBN Globo Radio* September 1
Rio impõe ao próximo prefeito o desafio de lidar com a questão habitacional [PT] by Lucas Soares

journalism. co. uk September 1
The Financial Times' first VR experiment shows viewers around Rio's favelas by Mădălina Ciobanu

LRB blog September 1
After the Olympics by Kathleen McCaul Moura

Columbia Journalism Review September 1
The best and worst journalism of August 2016 by David Uberti
 
*CatComm supported/quoted

RioOnWatch is a project of Catalytic Communities

September Highlights from CatComm

CatComm Logo

  
Now Booking 2016 University Tour

Catalytic Communities' Executive Director and urban planner, Theresa Williamson, Ph.D., will deliver lectures on a variety of topics in North America November 2016, January and April 2017.

As the first of Theresa's talk series following the Olympics, all talks have been redesigned from scratch, with subjects including: Rio's True Olympic Legacy, Realizing Favelas as a Sustainable Model, Community Organizing and Keys to Resistance in Pre-Olympic Rio, and RioOnWatch: How Hyper-local to Global News-making Has Changed the World. 

100% of proceeds fund community efforts on-the-ground. For more information or to arrange a lecture on your campus, click here. 


@RioONWire Wraps Up After 17 Months of High-Intensity News Alerts

After 17 months of 24/7 hourly news from Rio’s favelas in the lead up to the Olympics, the @RioONWire Twitter account was retired on August 31.

On April 1, 2015, @RioONWire was launched as the world's first favela wire service, a resource offering hourly content on favelas, mega-events, public policy and urban developments in Rio de Janeiro through the 2016 Olympics.

In its 17 months of reporting favela news, @RioONWire tweeted 14,400 times, averaging 28 tweets per day. In addition to tweets breaking news or events announcements, each news item was supported through tweet-series that dissected stories and emphasized the complexity of media narratives on human rights violations, mega-events and community organizing, featuring favela resident voices as often as possible. Through these additional contextual tweets, followers--mainly journalists--were offered more nuanced perspectives on favelas that supported more productive and nuanced reporting globally in the lead up to the Games. 

With the conclusion of the Rio 2016 Olympics, RioOnWatch will transition from its Olympics watchdog focus to a more solutions-oriented approach supporting the socio-environmentally sustainable development of Rio’s favelas. We are still considering what form, if any, @RioONWire will take going forward.

As we prepare this transition, we want to hear your feedback. How did you use @RioONWire? What did you find most useful? What would you like to see from it in the future? Let us know at feedback@catcomm.org.

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