As the World Cup Arrives..
This week the New York Times released an article about the inflated prices tourists are finding for lodging in Rio during the World Cup. Many locals in areas known as favelas or shantytowns, are renting out their spaces, homes, and apartments to visitors during what could be Rio most profitable year (besides the 2016 Olympics of course!).Т Article below.
Two other recent articles that talk about the gentrification of many favelas, discuss what Brazil has done to reduce drug trafficking in many of these communities.
In 2010 and 2011, I had the opportunity to visit one of the most popular favelas in Rio, known as Rocinha. It is home to over 70,000 inhabitants and is located in between two of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Rio, Gávea and São Conrado. Favelas are common in Brazil and is something immediately distinguishable to Rio’s landscape. You’ll find these incredible mountains and scattered and compacted amongst each dip are thousands of houses built on these hills sides. Each with lots of similarities and differences in structure, not to mention the interiors. It is hard as an outsider, to not immediately become intrigued by their appearance. It’s something you would never seen in the United States. What is even more incredible is witnessing the community that exists within each of these places. The people, food, atmosphere, and business makes it feel like it’s own microscopic city. Here are a few images I took in 2010 during a visit to a friend living there. Many say that the best views of Rio are inside the favelas scattered throughout the city.
As Rio begins to change and mold to match the government’s ideal appearance of what Brazil represents to the outside world, it has caused a lot of unneeded cost and loss to the lower classes. It is no surprise to most people that Brazil has it’s own set a problems that have existed for years and even decades. One major problem being the unequal distribution of wealth. A small percentage of Brazilians receiving the majority of the wealth and the rest living in poverty. Minimum wage in Brazil is 678 reis or roughly $335.00 per month! Below is a picture taken during the protests from June of this year in Brazil. The poster states: Pai Bandido or criminal is paid R$915, Mãe Puta or prostitute is paid R$2000, Filho Drogado or drug dealer R$1350 and a Trabalhador or service worker, legal paying job R$678. The last remark stats that though the protests began about a 20 centavos increase in bus fare, the real reasons for the protest were much deeper than that one issue. The bus fare just was what sparked it!
This past week, I listened to a broadcast with the Brazilian rapper Marcelo D2. He is an icon to Brazilian funk and rap, a real music prodigy in Brazil. He spoke about growing up with this constant reminder of Brazil’s optimism to become the next big country of the future, it’s real potential to become something. It has been embedded in the psych of most Brazilians and not until the last two years, has that time really arrived. There has been a fast growing middle class and Brazilians are looking to build a better life for themselves. That is a real powerful thing!
In the end, I can’t help but find crossovers, once again, to issues effecting humans across the world. When I began working on a bus ticket collage this summer in Vermont, I spoke with a artist about the protests effecting Egypt and compared it to Brazil. From there we began to talk about issues in the United States and what will spark the next protest in this country. It’s all relative..right?