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Monthly Digest

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

July 2016
Volume VI Issue 7

Welcome to our July 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 Olympic Games. This month we published 45 articles and 3 videos, 62% more than usual, thanks to a stellar group of 30 interns, effectively creating a full-scale newsroom on behalf of Rio's favelas this month.

For July's RioOnWatch articles and videos 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.
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This final week before the Rio 2016 Olympics begin is packed with planned protests against the "Exclusion Games." It will be the culmination of a month of demonstrations, including the fishermen's protest at the government's failure to clean Guanabara Bay.

Rio's mayor still insists the Games will leave a positive legacy for all but geographical analysis proves investments have been concentrated in wealthier areas. Transportation construction has left trails of destruction in lower income areas like Ramos, while the legacy project to create bike lanes in Maré remains incomplete. Maré journalist Walmyr Junior writes that the "State of Public Calamity" declaration gave the governor the right to cut public services, but this "right to 'cut' has always been the political practice in the favelas."

Constant police operations are disrupting the daily lives of Maré's residents, spurring activists to campaign to inform community members of their rights and discuss the impacts of these "public (in)security" policies. Alemão activists protested violence with a fake Olympic torch, while a
 recent Amnesty International protest highlighted that May 2016 saw more than a 130% increase in homicides by police compared to May 2015. All these protests question for whom Olympic security is intended.

A historic exchange between US Black Lives Matter activists and black Brazilian activists saw discussions of both the trauma and the resilience in black communities. In both Brazil and the US, the trend is for black men to be killed while women fight against police violence. One cannot understand violence in Rio without looking at the city's long history of institutionalized discrimination against those who are poor and black—our feature on the criminalization of poverty in Brazil is a must-read. 

Vila Autódromo and supporters across the city celebrated a long-awaited victory last week as the remaining 20 families received the keys to their new homes in the community. Of course, as the documentary The Fighter shows, not all families who wanted to stay could remain. Some of those displaced now face unexpected debts in public housing after the City seemingly broke yet another agreement.

Struggles against displacement continue in Paraty, where a fishing community resists real estate speculation, and in Manguinhos, where over 1,000 families were evicted but
 little has been built in their place. In the Port, some positive news: the Vito Giannotti occupation won the legal right to remain.

On RioOnWatch this month we ran a three-part series on the Camorim Quilombo, examining its history dating back to slavery and its ecotourism projects before breaking the disturbing news that the Olympics Media Village was built where Camorim residents believe their ancestors are buried.

This controversy was picked up by The Guardian, which also published the latest instalment of reflections from community journalists Daiene Mendes, Thaís Cavalcante, and Michel Silva. Thaís and Michel were also featured in a superb episode of WNYC's 'On the Media,' along with CatComm director Theresa Williamson on some of the challenges of reporting on favelas.

Long after the Olympics wrap up, it'll be local projects that aim to pick up the pieces, creating virtuous cycles of development, like those in Turano and Salgueiro, that will leave true positive legacies for favelas. Lasting change will emerge from community-based groups like Instituto Raízes em Movimento promoting the consolidation of local knowledge through innovative university-community collaborations; an innovative education project in César Maia; collective action to revitalize public space in Vila Laboriaux; and from women's empowerment projects like funk that breaks boundaries or inspiring dance classes in Rio das Pedras. While some communities like Horto are looking to their history to legitimize their rights to their land, civil society is already looking beyond the Games to envision a better future.

Journalists should take note of our pre-Olympic best and worst reporting analysis, as well as the updated Olympics Resources for Journalists, now with contact information and mapped locations for over 50 favela leaders.

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.

CriminalizationPovertyGraphic-620x264Understanding Rio’s Violence: The Criminalization of Poverty
by Alex Besser, Alix Vadot, Ava Rose Hoffman, Eli Nemzer, Nashwa Al-sharki | July 31
This article aims to outline the many forms in which low-income Brazilians are subjected to unjust treatment by the government, legal and penal systems, police, and mainstream media.
  Over the coming week, a range of anti-Olympics protest events will take place across Rio, culminating in a large demonstration during the opening ceremony on Friday August 5.
  Vila Autódromo’s victory comes against all the odds. It serves as an inspiration to other communities facing evictions, not just in Rio de Janeiro but all over the world. 
  The Extra headline read “Military Presence in the Streets Slashes Violence.” It makes us wonder, brings down violence where?
  Naomy possesses even less power than adult residents. She thinks constantly about what will happen to her next, where she will live, what will happen to her friends and the people who used to live in her community.
  Amnesty International Brazil organized a surprise action early on Wednesday morning, July 27 to protest the increase in police killings in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics Games.
Manguinhos5-620x264“Black July” Highlights Racial Injustice and Resilience of Black Communities in US and Brazil by Mariah Barber, Nia McAllister, Sarah Cronin, Stephanie Reist | June 26
Throughout the events, activists noted the irony that Brazil is a country that proudly promotes black culture, but does not embrace black people.
  Since 2014, when RioOnWatch last documented the struggle of the remaining ten families, little has changed.
  “This is why the building is occupied: in order to guarantee a better future for these families.”
  When we look at where those areas are compared with some of the Olympic investment projects, we can see that the criticisms that Olympic investment are only in rich areas are backed up by geography.
  Casa Fluminense’s research presents an opportunity for Mayoral candidates to address matters that will likely have a greater immediate impact on residents’ lives than the Games. 
  On June 2, Jaison was shot dead in his home by two off-duty police officers allegedly moonlighting as security guards for a real estate company which has long been locked in a land dispute with residents of Trindade.
  Residents of the West Zone resettled through the federal housing program are receiving unauthorized charges from Banco do Brasil, generating insecurity and fear.
  The debate covered issues including private security projects, the formation of favela networks and resistance movements, forced evictions and Olympic legacies internationally.
  Bandeirantes Já is a complementary schooling program run by its founder and young teachers who used to be students of the project themselves.
Foto-2_Thais-Cavalcanteok-620x264 (1)Budget Cuts Halt ‘Olympic Legacy’ Bike Path Construction in Maré by Carolina Vaz, Thaís Cavalcante | July 24
With an initial budget of R$7 million, the goal was to integrate all of the Maré favelas to the BRT stations all the way to the city's downtown and also to Alemão, Fundão, and Bonsucesso.
The program was temporarily suspended following President Dilma Rousseff’s removal in May but had already been paralyzed since mid-2015 due to a lack of public funds.
  The debate focused on the disruption to basic services including education and transport due to an increased number of security operations taking place in Maré over the last few months.
  The City destroyed four neighborhoods squares, leaving the region with no options for green and recreational spaces, contrary to everything that an Olympics should provide for a host city.

DSC_0204-re-e1468800010454-620x264 (1)Vila Laboriaux Repurposes Space for a New Community Square by David Morsi, Nia McAllister | July 21
In a series of four consecutive Saturdays beginning June 25, residents and collaborators cleared, planted, painted, and built benches and play structures for the new space.

Natalie1-620x264 (1)
“Funk Fridays” Series Debates Women’s Empowerment in Funk by Sarah Cronin | July 21
Today, more and more women are emerging in the funk scene, utilizing this genre of music to assert their own artistic individuality.
  “We have built these countries, but are pushed into economic despair, without opportunities to live our full lives. The racism might look different, but our ancestors are one. We come from resistance. It is in us to fight back.”
  "This torch is a symbol, but it’s not a criticism of the idea behind the Olympics. It signifies the way by which the City, the State and Brazil are going about the event in our city."
  “The women here are warriors,” say countless residents of Rio das Pedras, and Flavio Moraes’ dance class is one of the few spaces where women can be recognized as just that.
  It’s an unprecedented opportunity to change the historically stigmatizing narrative around favelas, but also brings the risk of further consolidating tired stigmas
  The apartment complex, officially called Barra Media Village 3, was built in Quilombo do Camorim, a community near several Olympic venues in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro.
  Led by residents of the community, these initiatives all aim to increase awareness and self-esteem within the community, thus contributing to local development.
  The program Guias da Natureza includes hikes through the Pedra Branca Forest that incorporate significant historical sites and important natural landmarks. 
  Olympic researcher Jules Boykoff's third book tears apart the International Olympic Committee’s fallacy that the Olympic Games are apolitical.
  “Every day I play music here, and as with everything in the favela, it becomes interpersonal–you make a sound, you start playing a drum inside and people will appear at your window."
  In the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, police do not need to claim that their victims had guns for them to justify extrajudicial killings of the mostly poor and Black.
  On Tuesday night, July 5, hundreds of Brazilians gathered in front of the Rio de Janeiro State Legislative Assembly to protest against the human rights violations related to the Olympic Games.
  Partnering with other organizations and movements in Alemão, the Institute’s works with two principal axes: critical communication and engaging diverse forms of knowledge.
  "In Vila Autódromo, despite being public land with concession of use, they are being expropriated. It is a process that is legally questionable."
  Study shows that 47% of people living in formal city neighborhoods would never hire a favela resident to work in their homes.
  The book combines thorough historical context with engaging personal interviews to create an unapologetic portrait of Rio, one that embellishes the city’s attractions without obscuring its flaws.
  Campaigners went door-to-door to speak with residents about the proper course of action in case of rights violations by police.
  The government’s failure to clean the bay before the Olympics is the latest in a series of unfulfilled commitments towards the bay since 1991.
  The state of public calamity grants the governor the right to cut “essential public services” for the Olympics to take place. But the right to “cut” has always been the practice in the favelas.
  “So many people don’t know how the system works, and we were thinking of ways to help other journalists navigate the bureaucracy of Rio.”
  Terrorism in the Olympic Games’ 120 year history has accounted for the deaths of 13 people, compared to over 2,500 people killed by Rio’s police force since 2009 when Rio was awarded the 2016 Games.
  Situated near the entrance of the Pedra Branca State Park, Camorim's history dates back to the indigenous Tupi-Guarani who inhabited the area prior to Portuguese colonization.
JuneDigest-620x264Favelas In the News: June 2016 Digest by Cerianne Robertson | July 4
As Rio races against the clock to finish final Olympics preparations, an increasing number of local and international voices are highlighting the human rights violations that cannot be allowed to be swept out of sight.
   “I was envious of others. To see that other favelas received tourists, favelas that even had more problems...Why would tourists go there and not come here?”
IMG_3808-620x264Horto: History with Roots by Rhona Mackay | July 1
"The director ordered the tree trunks be sent to the Botanical Garden and he gave everyone wood to make their houses. So it was the Director of the Botanical Garden himself who gave us the right to live here. No one invaded here."

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in the Media

USA Today July 31
Few remaining residents move into new homes at favela near Olympic Park by Taylor Barnes

BBC July 31
Will Rio benefit from Olympics legacy? [VIDEO]

Los Angeles Times July 31
Armed forces 'pacified' Rio's slums, but as Olympics approached, the gangs came back by Vincent Bevins

BBC July 31
Meet the angels of Rio's favelas and their creator [VIDEO]

The Telegraph July 30
Favela's 'Olympic truce' offers Brazil hope amid corruption, division and protest by Donna Bowater

The Economist July 30
Not yet medal contenders

The Malay Mail Online July 30
Teaching community through capoeira in a hardscrabble slum

Rio2016 July 30
Advantage Rocinha: youngsters from Rio’s largest favela earn opportunity to meet Olympic tennis stars

Bloomberg* July 29
Google Wants to Invite You on a Walking Tour of Rio’s Slums by David Biller

The Conversation July 29
Airbnb brings Olympic tourists to Rio’s poorest areas – but will locals benefit? by Fabian Frenzel

The Guardian July 29
Students Speak: the Rio Olympics come at a cost to Brazil's poorest

The Washington Post July 29
The Olympics may turn Rio into traffic hell by Dom Phillips

Mongabay* July 29
Deficient water systems, poor sanitation driving Zika in Brazil by Zoe Sullivan

Paste July 29
Photographer Mario Tama on Capturing the Spectacular and the Unseen in Rio de Janeiro by Kate Steiker-Ginzberg

Council on Foreign Relations July 28
Is Rio Ready for the Olympic Games? by Danielle Renwick

plus55 July 28
World leaders to be hosted next Red Command area

Around the Rings* July 28
Community Journalists Fill Reporting Void for Rio Olympics by Aaron Bauer

ITV July 28
Doncaster man sets up music school in Rio favela

TODAY Online July 28
How to explore Rio de Janeiro in three days by Denise Li

Bloomberg July 28
Rio Promised to Clean Up Guanabara Bay Before the Olympics by David Biller, Michael Smith

Amnesty International July 27
Fighting injustice with smartphones in Olympic Rio by Josefina Salomon

STAT July 27
The Olympians can leave. Brazil’s poor live with filthy, reeking water every day by Melissa Bailey

The Huffington Post July 27
Locals Put Rio Slums On Digital Maps To Drum Up Business During Olympics by Chris Arsenault

National Post July 27
Rio’s weary, frightened slum dwellers have no interest in Olympics by Matthew Fisher

New Matilda* July 27
Australia Packs Its Prejudice And Heads To Rio by Ann Deslandes

Why isn't anyone talking about this July 27
The 2016 Olympics in Rio: An Interview with Jules Boykoff by Steph Routh

Yahoo! July 27
Film Review: ‘In the Shadow of the Hill’ by Eddie Cockrell

The Rio Times July 27
Armed Forces Patrol Streets in Brazil Before Olympics by Lise Alves

The New York Times July 27
Who is Polluting Rio's Bay? by John Branch

HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel* July 26
The Lords of the Rings [VIDEO] by Jon Frankel

The Nation July 26
Budget Failures, Displacement, Zika—Welcome to Rio’s $11.9B Summer Olympics by Dave Zirin

The New York Times July 26
In Rio Slum, a Gleaming Hotbed of ... Badminton? by David Segal

Fastcodesign July 26
How The Olympics Have Ravaged Rio, In 6 Photographs by Meg Miller

Roar Magazine* July 26
‘C is for Corruption’: The Rio Olympics from A to Z by Adam Talbot

AS/COA July 26
An On-the-Ground View of Rio's Olympic Dream by Luisa Leme

Vita International* July 26
The Favelados of Rio: What the Olympics Tell Us [ITALIAN] by Janaina Cesar

SFGate July 25
In Rio's bulldozed —favelas,— echoes of America's shantytowns by Lisa Goff

el diario* July 24
Así sufre Río de Janeiro la represión policial previa a los Juegos Olímpicos [SPANISH] by Patricia Martínez Sastre

The Telegraph July 23
Rio's 'wall of shame' between its ghettos and shiny Olympic image by Donna Bowater

Rappler July 22
Meet the woman who stood up to Olympic builders and their wrecking balls by AFP

Buzzfeed* July 22
Busting 8 Myths About Rio's Favelas by David Robertson

The Guardian* July 21
Olympics media village built on 'sacred' mass grave of African slaves by Daniel Gross, Jonathan Watts

Jakarta Globe July 21
Rio's Kite Runners

The Washington Post July 21
The lagoon in front of Rio’s Olympic Park is so filthy the fish are dying by Dom Phillips

Pública July 20
100 stories. 100 removals. 100 houses destroyed by the 2016 Olympic Games

The New York Times July 20
Black Lives Matter Activists in Rio to Highlight Racism by AP

BBC July 20
Violence seeps back into city's favelas by Wyre Davies

Paste July 20
Jules Boykoff on the Intersection of Money, Politics and Resistance in the Games by Lucas Iberico Lozada

Buzzfeed* July 20
18 Must-Have Moments In Rio During The Olympics by David Robertson

Paste July 20
Monday Night at Pedra do Sal, Where Rio's Black Roots Are Honored Week After Week by Lucas Iberico Lozada

The Guardian July 19
Rio Olympics: who are the real winners and losers? by Jonathan Watts, Bruce Douglas

Human Rights Watch July 19
A Cop’s Fears in Rio by César Muñoz

Medium July 19
Looking inward in Rio de Janeiro: anybody home? by Julia Michaels

Los Angeles Times July 19
There's still time L.A. — Just say no to the Olympics by Dave Zirin

WBEZ Worldview / NPR* July 19
The Olympic Bidding Process: Is It Worth It? by Jerome McDonnell

Le Monde* July 19
Au Brésil, des cités ghettos pour remplacer les favelas [FRENCH] by Adèle Smith

FavelawatchBlog* July 19
Favela basics: What is a favela? [GERMAN] by BuzzingCities

The Guardian July 18
'Olympics for whom?': Rio state workers struggle ahead of 2016 Games [VIDEO] by Ana Terra Athayde

The New York Times* July 18
What Makes Brazilians Sick by Jules Boykoff

WDIV-TV NBC Detroit* July 18
2016 Olympics preview: Rio's 5 Ring Circus [VIDEO]

Thomas Reuters Foundation July 18
From favelas to the White House, tiles turn footsteps into electricity by Lin Taylor

The Sunday Times July 17
Favelas bleed while Rio goes for gold by Bruce Douglas

The Guardian July 16
Will the Olympics offer Brazil a way out of crisis or add to its burden? by Jonathan Watts, Bruce Douglas

Jacobin July 16
Let the Games Begin by Jules Boykoff

Inside the Games July 16
Rio 2016 Olympic security force members threaten to quit over poor accommodation and working conditions by Daniel Etchells

WNYC On the Media / NPR* July 15
The Favela Angle

Smithsonian July 15
Mapping Rio's Favelas by Emily Matchar

Chron July 15
2016 Olympics force evictions for residents of Rio's favela slums by Heather Leighton

The Washington Post July 15
Rio de Janeiro is not ready for the Olympics, and the IOC is to blame by Sally Jenkins

WNYC* July 15
Corruption and Poverty in Rio Ahead of the 2016 Olympics by Brian Lehrer

CNN July 14
Making Rio 2016 a success for everyone by Eduardo da Costa Paes

The Huffington Post July 14
The Black Lives Matter Movement Is Heading To The Rio Olympics by Travis Waldron

Human Rights Watch July 14
Kickbacks and Killings: A Brazilian Cop Tells His Story by Amy Braunschweiger

Daily Mail July 14
Inside Brazil’s ‘favelas’ just yards from stadium where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent ahead of the Rio Games by Gareth Davies

TIME* July 13
The Summer Olympics Should Always Be in Los Angeles. Forever. by Andrew Zimbalist

Fox News Latino July 13
Rio's Alemão favelas – beset by violence, social woes – a major concern for Olympics by Carolina Torres

truthout July 13
Terrorized by Police Raids and Mass Displacement, Rio Prepares for Olympics by Renata Bessi, Santiago Navarro F.

Politheor July 13
Community leadership in Rio’s favelas: a showcase for resilience by Tereza Maarova

Children Win July 13
Children’s rights and Rio 2016 – we take the fight to Brussels

The Guardian July 12
View from the favelas – ‘In Alemão, deaths aren’t investigated' by Daiene Mendes

The Guardian July 12
View from the favelas – ‘Violence here has become trivialised’ by Thaís Cavalcante

The Guardian July 12
View from the favelas – ‘The segregation of Rio is notorious’ by Michel Silva

Fusion July 12
Google hopes to map Rio’s tangled and sprawling favelas in time for the Olympics by Rafa Fernandez De Castro

The Washington Post July 12
Cash-strapped Rio state says Olympics will be fine. But what about afterward? by Dom Phillips

teleSUR July 12
Black Lives Matter to Visit Brazil Police Brutality Victims Before Rio Games

Vice July 12
How Slum Tourism Can Be a Good Thing by Yohann Koshy

Paste July 12
Sportswriter Dave Zirin on Olympic Corruption, Displacement and Violence Ahead of Rio 2016 by Bijan C. Bayne

The Guardian July 11
Rio mayor Eduardo Paes: 'The Olympics are a missed opportunity for Brazil' by Jonathan Watts

Al Jazeera* July 11
The Stream - #OlimpiadasPraQuem: Olympics for who? [VIDEO]

Herald Sun July 11
The real Rio: what Olympic officials don’t want you to see by Megan Palin

CityLab July 11
Disturbing New Data on Police Violence in Rio de Janeiro by Natalie Delgadillo

The Guardian July 8
‘The city should not be this way’: fears over violence in Rio with Olympics near by Jonathan Watts

Paste July 8
Human Rights Groups Highlight Killings By Police Ahead of Rio Olympics by Meg Healy

Rio2016 July 8
Girls from Rio favela give boxing masterclass ahead of Rio 2016 Games

The Washington Post July 7
Why Rio police kill — cops explain in shocking new report by Dom Phillips

Vice July 7
I Got Beaten Up by Rio's Metro Police by Matias Maxx

PRI July 7
Amnesty's new app for Rio shootings was flooded with reports on day one by Catherine Osborn

The Observers July 7
Black teen shot dead in Rio favela inflames tensions with police by Diego Francisco

plus55 July 7
Favela residents fear for security after the Olympics

Human Rights Watch July 7
Extrajudicial Executions Undercut Rio Security

Herald Sun July 7
Security concerns for Australian athletes by Mark Dunn

plus55 July 7
Brazilian girl gets 18th place in world brain bee

Children Win July 7
Rio protests against “The Exclusion Games” by Beth McLoughlin

CBS July 6
Rio police grapple with crime wave, late paychecks, as Olympics loom

The Rio Times July 6
75 Percent of Rio’s Favela Residents Want UPP to Continue by Nelson Belen

Paste July 6
Protestors Decry "Olympic Calamity" on the Streets of Rio by Meg Healy

euronews July 5
Favela tourism and the human cost of gentrifying Rio by Noel Konagai

Chicago Tribune July 5
'Welcome to hell': Violence rocks Rio a month before Olympics by Dom Phillips

Amnesty International July 5
‘Cross-fire’, new app to document gun violence in Rio ahead of Olympics by Eduardo da Costa Paes

The Globe and Mail July 4
Dirty Water by Stephanie Nolen

The New York Times July 1
Brazil's Olympic Catastrophe by Vanessa Barbara

NPR July 1
With 5 Weeks To Go Until The Olympics, How Prepared Is Rio? by Lulu Garcia-Navarro

Folha de S. Paulo July 1
Authors Caco Barcellos and Misha Glenny speak out in defense of their work that gives voice to drug dealers by Lígia Mesquita

RioOnWatch is a project of Catalytic Communities

July Highlights from CatComm

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Updated Olympics Resources for Journalists
The Olympics Resources for Journalists now includes an expanded favela contact list and map with over 50 leaders who want to tell their stories, a list of eight big stories that need coverage, and an Upcoming Events Calendar. Please share the full set of resources with any journalists looking to cover Rio during the Olympics!

Olympics Reality Tour for Journalists

On Tuesday, August 2, CatComm is leading an "Olympic Legacy Reality Tour" for journalists in the region surrounding the Olympic Park. 

We have an amazing packed schedule, including:

- Vila Autódromo, where residents are now entering the government-built homes while final homes are demolished, with Maria da Penha
- Quilombo do Camorim - Maciço da Pedra Branca where the Olympic Media Village was built on slave burial grounds, with Adilson Almeida
- City of God, where the pacifying police attempt peace and residents make creative use of media, with Carla Siccos of Cdd Acontece
- Colônia Juliano Moreira, where residents of Vila Autódromo and other communities were relocated to public housing

We are planning a second tour for the following week so please reach out to for more information.

What is a Favela?

CatComm published an animated film to explain what favelas are through a brief look at their history and the context behind some of the stigmas they face today. Watch it here.

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