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Monthly Digest

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

September 2015
Volume V Issue 9

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. 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, you can click to view the entire message in your browser.

September wrapped up with a video of police tampering with a shooting scene in Providência to incriminate the boy they had just killed going viral on social media before drawing national and international news coverage. Earlier in the month, residents took to social media en masse to denounce the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Cristian Andrade in Manguinhos on September 8. This incident came only a few days after the final event of Coletivo Papo Reto's 'Everything is Wrong' campaign to demand freedom from violence for Complexo do Alemão, where, as of August 20, residents had heard gunshots on 81% of days in 2015. One Alemão resident lay out his vision for an alternative, utopian UPP—a Unit for Potentializing the Poor. It was in this context that we published the final article in our series documenting all 38 of Rio's UPP installations so far.

September also saw a growing conversation around the stigma faced by favela residents, who are judged even by the language and dialect they use. A community leader from Borel argued the exclusion of favelas from Rio's celebrations of its 450-year history shows they remain 'undesirable' parts of the city. Street vendors protested the exclusion and violence they experience as a result of their informal status.

Responding to unjust stigmas, however, are favela residents like the members of the Antiéticos rap collective, who aim to counter racism by promoting love in the black community. Alemão's new comedy YouTube channel also aims to disrupt preconceptions of favela life. Both these projects rely on the Internet to reach their audiences, which is fitting given the high rates of Internet use among favela residents.

The psychological stress suffered by evictees was made clear through Heloisa Helena Costa Berto's intensely emotional testimony of her experience of removal from Vila Autódromo. Remaining residents of that community are still determined to stay, and continue their creative resistance, most recently by producing an updated aerial map of the neighborhood to help their cause. 
CityLab photo essay on inequality shows how Vila Autódromo and favelas in need of basic amenities are excluded from the biggest Olympic infrastructure investments. 

Low-income residents of the Port region have cause to celebrate following the approval of a plan for subsidized affordable housing in the area. It's still unclear what the new plan means for upgrading projects in Providência, where residents have repainted the central, historic staircase with song lyrics demanding solutions to the favela's structural and environmental problems.

Finally, out in Paraty, Rio State, traditional communities and advocates met to discuss how community tourism could be a tool to protect residents' territorial rights and preserve the environment from encroaching unorganized tourism. 

In parallel to the official Rio2016 press briefing October 5-8, CatComm will hold an alternative Rio 2016 press event for international journalists in Santa Teresa at 7pm on Sunday, October 4, to be repeated Wednesday, October 7. International press are invited to attend to hear different perspectives on the city's transformations brought about by the Olympic Games, with a focus on the experiences of Rio's favela residents. Please email for more information or to RSVP.

September marked CatComm's 15th birthday! Thanks to everyone who made it an extra special one by coming together during our most successful fundraising campaign ever to raise over $50k! To celebrate, we want to know what the people who've made CatComm and RioOnWatch a success over these years—YOU!—are up to today, and how we can best support our collaborators going forward. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts on our brief questionnaire! They're very important to us!
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.

Antiéticos’ translates literally to ‘unethical,’ but the idea behind the collective’s name is not about “a lack of ethics or unscrupulous people,” the group explains on its website. Rather, the name is meant to represent a challenge to “the standard ethos imposed by society—the group that controls the world today will see us as transgressors, nonstandard because we endanger their sense of comfort.”
  A study launched at the Green Gallery in New York by the president of the Data Popular Institute and founder of the Favela Data Institute shows that favela residents are more technologically connected than those living on the “asphalt." “The number of Internet users is larger in the favelas than in the formal city because, for favelas, the Internet has first of all an income generating function.”
Academia_brasileira_de_letras_2-620x264 (1)The Language of the Favela Part 2: Dialect & Stigma
by Gitanjali Patel | September 29
Different dialects spoken within the city immediately indicate the social class of the speaker, meaning that those who speak peripheral dialects such as the language of the favela must bear the negative stigma associated with their community whenever they open their mouths. Wealthy speakers of the standard dialect in a region are able to mask their prejudice by invoking a language standard, which excludes the non-standard dialects spoken in poor communities.

policiamento_favela-da-mare05-620x264 (1)Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) Installations Part 5: 2014
by Patrick Ashcroft | September 25
In 2014, with priorities focused on the FIFA World Cup and with the entire Pacifying Police Unit program in somewhat of a crisis, the implementation of new UPPs slowed dramatically. Mangueirinha and Vila Kennedy received new UPPs, while Complexo da Maré was occupied by the army just months before the start of the World Cup.
  We cannot imagine a Rio de Janeiro without its direct association with the favelas that surround it. However, the point is that whilst this is true, favelas have not had any presence in the celebrations of 450 years of the city. Nothing is innocent or without motive. The absence of favelas in the call to celebrate the anniversary of our city has the clear intention of showing just how undesirable this part of the city really is.
  The construction of subsidized housing for low-income families in the Port Region of Rio de Janeiro has been advocated by urban planners and social movements for six years, since the port regeneration project that goes by the name of Porto Maravilha was launched in 2009. The plan, however, was only developed now due to a requirement launched by the Ministry of Cities. A total of 5,100 units will be built by 2026.
  On Saturday September 12, residents of Vila Autódromo met at the community’s Catholic Church where they were presented with an aerial map of their community. The map was composed of 20 photographs selected from 1,238 taken 200 to 300 meters high between 9am-11am on August 15, 2015. The objective of the event was to explore the possible uses of the aerial map and how it could benefit Vila Autódromo during this intense moment of transformation.
  Police brutality in Rio’s favelas triggered a new wave of outrage on social media this month. On September 8 at 11:30am a police raid in Manguinhos, in the North Zone of the city, carried out by the Civil Police’s Special Operations Unit and Homicide Division, resulted in the death of 13-year-old Cristian Soares Andrade who was playing soccer in a nearby field.
  Following is an urgent and important explanation–from both a personal and social standpoint–given the blasphemy, heresy, and general disruption caused by actions taken against the dogmas of the Afro-Brazilian religions resulting from the removal of the sacred space of “Yle Axe Ara Orun Yaba Jiri” from Vila Autódromo, Jacarepaguá. I also describe the entire negotiation process that took place over the period of a year and a half, including the many humiliations and religious prejudices which I suffered.
  On Saturday, September 5, residents gathered for a night vigil in the Bulufa Plaza to remember the family, friends and neighbors who have perished in the violence so far in 2015. The following day, residents joined together in the small plaza of Areal for a lively ‘cultural occupation,’ filled with families, music, food, and activities.
UPP1-620x264 (1)Unit to Potentialize the Poor: The New Utopian UPP by Cléber Araujo | September 9
After various meetings and revisions given the countless errors committed by the government, the public authorities have just created a new UPP. That’s right, with this very nomenclature. It is the UNIT to POTENTIALIZE the POOR. Hostility towards the former UPP project led to the emergency creation of this new attempt to give significance to the polemic and failed project of the State, that recognized its mistakes and therefore decided to give life to this new Unit.
  It was Sunday morning when the team met up at Palmeiras, a cable car station in Alemão, to record another episode of The Adventures of 100g and Jurubeba, the first YouTube comedy channel created by Complexo do Alemão residents. The idea is to portray the lives of young people in the community and show as much of normal everyday life as possible so viewers identify with the comedy.
  The first Green Coast Community Tourism Meeting took place in the traditional fishing community of Tarituba in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro state, from July 23 to 25. Community tourism is characterized by community participation in the development of tourism activities, which contributes to the appreciation of local identity and preservation of the territory. It is an alternative to the traditional model of tourism which focuses solely on economic growth and can negatively affect destinations by excluding local culture. 
  On Saturday August 15, members of the community project Providência Sustentável organized an event to repaint the historic central staircase in Morro da Providência, Brazil’s first favela. Starting early afternoon, a group of over twenty participants worked until sunset to clean and repaint the stairs in efforts to raise public awareness about the structural and environmental problems in the community.
  Thursday, August 24, a rally organized by the United Movement of Street Vendors (MUCA) was held in the center of Rio to protest against systematic State violence against street vendors. The rally comes barely one week after the intensification of clashes between the Municipal Guard and informal workers, which are particularly common surrounding Rio’s Central Station.
  The war routine in Complexo do Alemão has left residents confined to their homes on 81% of the days this year. Since January, there have been shootings on 190 of the 232 days [up to August 20]. There was only a 42 day truce after the death of a boy hit by a rifle shot at the door of his home. These data were collected by a couple that lives in Alemão so as to portray the reality of the community.

Recommended Videos


in the Media

The Rio Times September 30
Police Arrested for Altering a Crime Scene in Rio Favela by Chesney Hearst

BBC September 30
Brazil police accused of planting gun on shot teenager

Folha de S.Paulo September 30
Video Shows Police Fabricating Evidence of Gunfight after Death in Rio Favela by Marco Antônio Martins, Bruna Fantti

The Telegraph September 30
Brazil police officers arrested after 'tampering with fatal shooting scene' by James Badcock

Fox News September 30
Brazil police officers arrested after video appears to show them altering crime scene by AP

Reuters September 30
Brazil slump risks leaving taxpayers with Olympic real estate bill by Stephen Eisenhammer

The Rio Times September 29
Brazil’s Government Reducing Investments in Social Programs by Lise Alves

Scuttlebut Sailing News September 28
Rio Olympics: The Brazilian Way

Global Kiratiana September 27
9 Beautiful Photos That Show Young Black Boys Enjoying Brazil's Beaches by Kiratiana Freelon

The Rio Times September 27
Police in Rio Start Summer Security Operation at Beaches by Lise Alves

Truthout September 27
Fiscal Austerity May Jeopardize Brazil's Poverty Alleviation Program by Fabiola Ortiz

Fox News Latino September 24
Brazilians protest death of boy from police gunfire by EFE

Witness September 24
Witness + Coletivo Papo Reto Receive Award from BrazilFoundation

Rio Times Online September 23
Rio Vigilantes Raise More Security Challenges for Police by Chesney Hearst

AOL September 23
Rio's forgotten downtown, a window on Olympic city's past by Jenny Barchfield

Million Hoodies September 22
From Brazil to the United States: Building Solidarity in the Movement for Black Lives by Brittany Williams

Buzzfeed September 22
This Woman’s Racist Rant From Decades Earlier Went Viral And Her Response Was Perfect by Ryan Broderick, Clarissa Passos

BRIC Plus September 22
Favela Gay: How the LGBT Community Live in Brazil's Slums by Ana Paula Picasso

Tech Insider September 20
These haunting photos show a Rio neighborhood being bulldozed for the Olympics by Ariel Schwartz

BBC September 20
Misha Glenny - Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio: Omnibus [RADIO]

PBS September 20
Shadowed by fear and violence: One student’s story from a Rio slum [VIDEO]

The Spectator September 19
Life in Rio’s most infamous favela — where you have to pay the cops to arrest criminals by Andreas Campomar

Global Post September 19
Two crazy statistics show Rio’s gross water problem isn't going away by Will Carless

Inside the Games September 19
Rio 2016 claim several Olympic venues are approaching completion by Michael Pavitt

Financial Times September 18
'Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio', by Misha Glenny by Joe Leahy September 18
Bullseye! Rio youngsters take a bow!

Newstalk ZB September 18
Remarkable encounters in Rio by Mike Yardley

Boston Globe September 17
Fighting Olympic eviction by Reuters

Sports Illustrated September 17
Swimming federation demands virus testing in Rio Olympic water by SI Wire

Huffington Post September 17
Would You Sleep in a Slum? by Katy Gough

Vice: Fightland Blog September 16


YouTube September 15
From Rio to NYC: Can eyewitness video end impunity for police abuse? [VIDEO] by Witness Media Lab

The Rio Times September 15
New Police Training Program Aims to Prevent Violence in Rio by Shalina Chatlani

Global Kiratiana September 15
10 Reasons Why You Should Support by Kiratiana Freelon

Pacific Standard September 14
Punishment Wins Over Prevention in Brazil by Gary Barker, Tatiana Moura, Victoria Marie Page

Worldcrunch September 14
Rio 2016: What A Shame That Brazil Is Hosting The Olympics by José Henrique Mariante

The Economist September 12

NPR September 12
Brazil Enslaved by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

The Guardian September 12
The day I met Rio’s favela master: the drug lord who championed the poor by Misha Glenny

New York Magazine September 12
9 Amazing Moments at the Givenchy Show, Not Including the Clothes by Stella Bugbee

Folha de S.Paulo September 11
Folha Witnesses Shootout Between Drug Traffickers and Military Police in Rio Favela by Eliane Trindade, Fernanda Mena

Evening Standard September 10
Nemesis: One Man and the Battle For Rio by Misha Glenny - review by Ian Thomson

The Intercept September 10
Do Adults Have a Privacy Right to Use Drugs? Brazil’s Supreme Court Decides by Glenn Greenwald

AP September 10
Away from Olympics, sewage blights vast swaths of Rio by Jenny Barchfield

CityLab* September 9
Rio's Olympic Inequality Problem, in Pictures by Matthew Niederhauser

Worldcrunch September 8
The Tragic Rebirth Of Sao Paulo’​s Favelas by Leandro Machado, Emilio Sant'anna

Amnesty International September 8
Brazil: Killing of 13-year-old boy in police shootout shows reckless security strategy September 8
Transforma helps to spread Olympic fever in Rio

Rappler September 6
Favela art eyed to boost tourism in Benguet village
by Jessa Mardy N. Polonio

Channel News Asia September 5
Favela tourism exploding ahead of Rio games [VIDEO]

Witness Media Lab September 4
Dispatch From Brazil: If Killed By Police, Guilty By Default ... Unless There's Video? by Priscila Neri

ABC News Australia September 4
Rio Olympics: How host city is using 2016 Games to become a better city
by Ben Knight, Amy Sherden

The Telegraph September 4
Rio attempts to tackle widespread homelessness ahead of Olympics
by Donna Bowater

The Japan News September 2
Olympics Shines Light on Rio's Favelas
*CatComm supported/quoted

RioOnWatch is a project of Catalytic Communities


Highlights from


CatComm Logo

Rio Favela Olympics Media Package crowdfunding campaign raised $50,091!

Thanks to 433 unique donors over 483 contributions, our crowdfunding campaign hit the revised target of $50,000 with donations on and off the Indiegogo platform. This is the most we have ever raised in a single campaign, even with a matching grant!

We want to thank every single person that made this possible!
We are currently assessing which elements of our Rio Favela Olympics Media Package we will deliver. Focusing on and expanding
RioOnWatch through community correspondents and maintaining RioONWire as a public resource are our top priorities. 

Stay tuned for the delivery of campaign perks and news of our annual selection of a lucky supporter to visit us with a friend for a week poolside in Rio next year.

CatComm Invites Press to Rio 2016 Alternative Press Event

In parallel to the official Rio2016 World Press Briefing October 5-8, CatComm will hold an alternative Rio 2016 press event for international journalists in Santa Teresa at 7pm on Sunday, October 4, to be repeated Wednesday, October 7. International press are invited to attend to hear different perspectives on the city's transformations brought about by the Olympic Games, with a focus on the experiences of Rio's favela residents. Please email for more information or to RSVP.

CatComm's 15th Birthday Questionnaire

September marks CatComm's 15th birthday! To celebrate, we want to know what the people who've made CatComm and RioOnWatch a success over these years—YOU!—are up to today, and how we can best support our collaborators going forward. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts! They're very important to us!On 

Now Booking Final University Tour Prior to 2016 Olympic Games

We are now booking the final 8 talk slots available prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Catalytic Communities' Executive Director and urban planner, Theresa Williamson, Ph.D., will deliver lectures on a variety of topics in North America this November, including cutting edge citizen journalism and community resistance strategies within Rio's current pre-Olympic landscape. 100% of proceeds fund community efforts on-the-ground. For more information or to arrange a lecture on your campus, click here. For the full brochure on lecture topics, click here.

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