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Monthly Digest

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

February 2015
Volume V Issue 2
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Welcome to our February 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 2016. 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.

Carnival wows its spectators year in and year out, but this February the celebrations had to share the spotlight with criticsm and controversy. One street parade, or blocoadapted traditional Carnival tunes into songs of protest, questioning the frivolity of the party in the context of Rio's continued struggles with police violence. In Alemão residents criticized police for shutting down parties and restricting access to spaces. 

Following Carnival, a protest for peace in Maré also ended in clashes between police and demonstrators. In Palmerinha police insisted that the killing of a 15 year-old boy was done in self-defense, but the video recorded on the boy's own phone proved he and his friends were innocent. The current tension is underscored by a report that teen homicides are on the rise. The debates around policing in favelas can be better understood when contextualized in the UPP's history, and this month we published the second article in our five-part series documenting the 
timeline of UPP installations and residents' perceptions.

We also published the second article in a series on Rio's port zone. This latest contribution examines how the port's black population is marginalized at the same time as its culture is appropriated for tourism.

Mayor Eduardo Paes made news this month by pledging to fulfill promises to build a campus of the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ) in Complexo do Alemão. This pledge followed extensive activism by the community after it initially appeared that construction plans for the university had been abandoned. Residents of the Niterói occupation at Mama África are also awaiting implementation of upgrading plans, after their activism won them definitive title to the land last November.

Finally, this month has brought inspiring stories of favela residents taking action to help their communities. In Santa Marta, the highly respected community organization Grupo Eco continues to run the summer camp it began 36 years ago, despite serious funding cuts. In Cerro Corá young activists are working to develop the community library and 'Memories of Cerro Corá' photography exhibit they launched last December. Vila Kennedy community members came together to clean up after heavy rains, as they do regularly, in the absence of public investment.

With the countdown upon us--18 months until the Olympic Games in Rio--the pressure is mounting. On the one hand repression, intimidation, cooptation and violence are escalating, some of which had been predicted based on similar experiences in past Olympic cities, but which are taken to a new level here in Rio given the city's famed inequality. On the other hand communities are connecting, organizing and claiming their rights more than ever. And all of this is taking place faster, and faster, while global attention continues to concentrate on Rio in these months leading up to the 2016 Games. To support our ongoing diligent work on behalf of favelas in this challenging period, we are inviting our fans, readers and collaborators to sign on as Olympic Champions, for $10 a month, and gain access to up-to-the-minute news on the latest goings on across the city's communities from our soon-to-be-launched newswire (@RioONWire), as well as advance access to our latest research reports. See the February Highlights from CatComm below for more information.


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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Shoot first. Ask questions later. That’s how a group of police officers carrying out a raid in the favela of Palmerinha north of Rio de Janeiro acted on Saturday night when they killed a 15 year old boy and injured another, 19 years old, with a bullet to the chest. Until last Wednesday afternoon, the official version from the police was that four criminals were shooting at an armored Military Police vehicle patrolling the area. In other words it was a case of self-defence or death on duty. However, the film made on the mobile phone of the young boy who was killed contradicts this claim and shows that the police shot at the group of four friends at least 10 times for no reason at all.
 
mare-620x264Residents Protest for Peace in Maré [IMAGES]
by Elma Gonzalez | February 27
Last Monday evening February 23, 800 people once again took to the streets to protest police violence in Complexo da Maré in a demonstration called Protest for Life in Complexo da Maré. The event began at 7 pm and ran as a peaceful march where protesters walked from Avenida Brasil towards the West Zone, reaching Linha Amarela where they walked on to the entrance of Vila do Pinheiro, where they first heard gun shots. The march descended into violence between police and the protesters. Police claim their confrontation was with suspected drug dealers, and El Mundo reports two people were killed and three others were wounded.
  On February 12, the Marvelous City saw a new street parade, or bloco, join the other 456 blocosof carnival. Participants assembled in Largo da Carioca, in the city center near the Carioca metro station. This bloco was an initiative of a group called Occupy Carnival (Ocupa Carnaval), which describes itself as a politically oriented group, in collaboration with the groups Comuna que Pariu, Apafunk, and Planta na Mente, which fight for women’s rights, social equality, and the legalization of marijuana, respectively.
  Residents of Vila Kennedy in Rio de Janeiro’s West Zone gathered once again for a ‘mutirão de limpeza’—a collective clean-up effort. These clean-ups happen every rainy day in summer and winter, as the rain causes earth and dirt to fill the water gully that runs between Sargento Miguel Filho Avenue and Barranquilla Crossing.
  Houses numbered 48 and 50 on Passos da Pátria Street, in Niterói, share a special history of struggle for housing and dignity. Occupied for more than 20 years, 36 families now live inside their walls. In addition to the housing question, another feature of the Mama África occupation makes it unique. A group of ten women from the Foundation for Children and Teenagers (FIA) are directly responsible for the organization of community life. 
 
Carnival-in-Alemao-2-620x264Carnival in Alemão Repressed by Police by Nicole Froio | February 20 
Complexo do Alemão‘s yearly carnival street party was aggressively brought to an end by policemen who “created chaos in the crowd, fired guns, tear gas and pepper spray,” according to residents who took to social media to complain about the incident. On the evening of Tuesday February 17, residents of Alemão gathered in Largo do Itararé to drink, eat and enjoy samba music in celebration of carnival. Street vendors sold beer and food to their customers and the music was playing loudly.
 
The history of the Port Zone and its black population, as much a target of removals (when classified as “invaders”) as of eradication (when classified as “criminals,” “traffickers,” etc.), can help one understand how this city marginalizes the black population, yet also uses elements of its culture as tourist attractions. After all, how does one explain a region where the African Heritage Circuit has become a major tourist attraction, yet where residents, the majority of whom are black, are removed or evicted?

Pipa-620x264The Warlike Violence of a Kite by Rachel Gepp | February 16 
On January 15, the Marvellous City saw another disturbing episode in the history of the State’s violent armed interventions in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. In Cachoeira Grande, part of the group of favelas Complexo do Lins in Rio’s North Zone, Patrick, 11 years old, was shot dead by a policeman from the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP).

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Launch of the Community Library and Memory Exhibit at Cerro-Corá by Miriane da Costa Peregrino | February 13
This December, Cerro Corá, a favela located next to Christ the Redeemer in Rio’s South Zone, launched the Cerro Corá Community Library. The initiative was led by Cerro Corá Residents in Movement, a group formed by young favela residents, supporters and activists. Despite lacking a headquarters, funding and registration as an official organization, since 2012 Residents in Movement has carried out a range of activities from clearing garbage to creating a community museum. The group typically uses the Residents’ Association’s space as well as public spaces on the hill.
  In a meeting with activist leaders from Complexo do Alemão on February 6, Mayor Eduardo Paes agreed to move forward with the construction of a higher education institution in the community after the project almost fell through due to a failure to provide the land to build the campus. The project to build a campus of the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ) in Complexo do Alemão was set in motion in 2011, when President Dilma Rousseff launched an initiative to open 208 new higher education institutions throughout Brazil–three in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
 
The Ministry of Cities, the federal bank Caixa, the Municipal Housing Secretariat–none of these authorities know if the people who live in the apartments under the federal program Minha Casa Minha Vida (MCMV), or “My House My Life” are really benefiting from it. If they were to assess the results of the program, the local government would know about what happened to resident X., a 55-year-old bricklayer evicted one year ago from his apartment by the militia in the Ferrara condominium in Campo Grande. 
 
Every year, children between 6 and 12 years old, from Santa Marta favela in Botafogo in Rio’s South Zone, have a date with Rio’s beaches, parks and other leisure spaces across the city. This summer camp, which goes by the name of Colônia Eco, has been active every year for the last 36 years. It has received up to 350 children in past summers, and this summer the number stands at 200 children. However, this year, a lack of sponsorship for the camp, as occurred last year, means the camp program has been reduced from 15 days to just a week and some of the traditional trips have been removed from the program. 
  If the first six implementations can be described as the honeymoon period of the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP), the next phase was when the first cracks in the program began to emerge. From April 2010 until November 2011 the focus moved to the Central and near-North Zone to favelas in the region nearby and surrounding the Maracanã Stadium, host venue of six World Cup games including the final and the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games. As Rio State Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame targeted areas around Centro, Santa Teresa, Tijuca and the Maracanã, there were increasing local reports of authoritarian behavior and torture from certain UPP units, though these did not become widely known.
  A report on the index of teenage homicides released on Wednesday, January 28 revealed that 42,000 teenagers might be victims of homicide by 2019 if the Brazilian government does not take action. The study entitled ‘Homicides in Adolescence in Brazil’ was launched in hotel Windsor Guanabara in Centro, along with an interministerial program to decrease the number of homicides among the young population.
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February
in the Media

 
YAHOO! News February 27
Brazil teen killed by police recorded shooting on phone by AFP

abc News February 27
Rio Homicide Division to Investigate Killings by Police by AP

RioReal Blog February 26
Rio de Janeiro’s 450th birthday: not much to celebrate, lots to do by Julia Michaels

The Guardian February 26
Thousands of dead fish found in Rio de Janeiro's Olympic sailing waters by Reuters

Liberty Voice February 26
Rio de Janeiro Working Poor Struggle to Be Heard by Evan Margetson

Rio2016 February 25
International Olympic Committee praises ‘solid progress’ made towards Rio 2016 Games

Favelas at LSE February 25
Real life entrepreneurship in Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela by Isabella Nunes Pereira

USA Today February 25
Rio backpedals on key legacy projects before Olympics by Taylor Barnes

The Independent February 25
Brazilian protest erupts in violence after police confront drugs gangs by Rose Troup Buchanan

Rio2016 February 25
IOC President highlights legacy of Rio 2016 Olympic Games in discussion with students

The Guardian February 25
Rio 2016: Occupy takes swing at Olympic golf course by Bruce Douglas

Graphixia February 24
#197 – Adventures in Brazil, André Diniz’s ‘Picture a Favela’ by hattiek

Reuters February 24
Olympics-Rio to ask big companies to shut down during Olympics by Andrew Downie

Fox News Latino February 20
5 Suspected drug traffickers die in shootout with Rio de Janeiro police by EFE

RioReal Blog February 19
Carnival 2015: whose city is it? by Julia Michaels

The New York Times February 18
‘The Media Doesn’t Care What Happens Here’ by Matthew Shaer

The New York Times February 16
Brazil's Have-Nots Take in Carnival Parades From Afar by AP

Beacon Reader February 15
The Music of Mangueira by Flora Charner

Neon Tommy February 14
Olympic Games Won't Bring 'Ordem E Progresso' To Brazil by Marina Peña 

Huffington Post February 13
Corruption Probe Taints Rio's Olympic Image by Eric Ehrmann 

The Rio Times February 11
Rental Price Growth Slows Below Inflation in Rio de Janeiro by Lisa Flueckiger

Rio Gringa February 11
A Tale of Two Traffic Stops by Rachel Glickhouse

IEDP Brazil February 11
Rio’s Attempt to Upgrade Favelas by Rory Pulvino

FAVELissues February 10
Rio’s Current Crime Spike: Trends and Individuals by Andrew Carman

Black Women of Brazil February 10
“The black woman is not a Carnival costume” – Note to Brazil: Blackface is still not funny!

Fusion February 9
Afro-Brazilian women flaunt ‘curl power’ at Carnival street party by Kevin Gray, Rachel Glickhouse

IEDP Brazil* February 9
UPPs Take on Social Development by Katie Collins

The Guardian February 8
Brutal killing of a samba ‘queen’ exposes dark world behind the glitter of carnival by Beth McLoughlin

The Washington Post February 6
Afro-Brazilian religions struggle against Evangelical hostility by Dom Phillips

Insight Crime February 6
Rio de Janeiro’s Stray Bullet Problem Resurges
 by Rachel Glickhouse

Reuters February 5
Amid rubble, Rio residents fight Olympics evictions by Stephen Eisenhammer

The Times February 5
Patrolling in Rio slums is deadlier than Afghanistan by James Hider

USA News February 5
In Rio favela, hungry caimans complicate water hunt
 by Claire de Oliveira Neto

BBC News* February 3
Brazil Rio: Rare victory for residents in regeneration battle by Donna Bowater

IEDP Brazil* February 3
Favela Tours: A Shift towards Sustainable Tourism? by Corey Ackerman

Evening Standard* February 3
High cash settlements for favela families forced out by Olympic building work by Donna Bowater

RioReal Blog February 2
Rio de Janeiro: time for a rethink? by Julia Michaels

*CatComm supported/quoted

RioOnWatch is a project of Catalytic Communities

February Highlights from CatComm

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Ready, Set, Launch! Get Ready to Check out @RioONWire!
...and more!

In the coming weeks, with dozens of local collaborators, we will formally launch @RioONWire, the only English-language favela news wire, with hourly updates on news and events across Rio's favelas through the 2016 Olympic Games. We are also getting ready to publish, over the coming 2 months, a number of reports ranging from a 6-year Media Monitoring report, to the latest global Favela Perceptions Survey.

All of these and more are tools designed for you--RioOnWatch and CatComm fans, readers and collaborators--and will be available to anyone who signs up as an Olympic Champion. For just $10 a month pledged through the end of 2016, you will be supporting our careful work on behalf of favelas in this challenging period, while securing up-to-the-minute news on the latest goings-on across the city's communities.

Here's More Information.
Here's the Program Brochure.
Click here to sign up.

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