- Lack of decent public education
- Lack of decent healthcare
- Lack of basic infrastructure, in a lot of favelas, they don't even legally have electricity
- Jobs are scarce, favela's citizens usually endure long commutes under the very inefficient public transport system to work low-paying jobs
- Rio's favelas are usually located in hills, when it rains, landslides are very common, more often than not they are deadly
- Most favelas are dominated by heavily armed drug dealers (most of their weaponry are semi-auto rifles coming from the USA), law-abiding citizens often see themselves under gunfire between rival gangs or cops
- Citizens are often extorted by drug dealers, or even corrupt cops. They need to pay a "protection tax" in exchange for basic services
I could go on and on ...
Source: Born and raised in Rio
Our Brazilian friend back in the states said we should have never gone in the first place. The favelas are run by the gangs. She grew up in one of them so I assume she knows what she’s talking about.
Fortunately for me, it was my girlfriend’s idea.
It has crime just like any other place (e.g. a Phd in UCLA mapped gangs in LA, santa monica and Beverly hills had the most count of gangs and members) but the police treat favelas as their war ground, causing an artificial firepower escalation. And the reason is twofold: by twisting public opinion that favelas only have criminals you can relinquish all forms of state spending (culture, etc) and you can maintain a tight grip on the local political representation during elections, and favelas have lots of votes.
In sum, it has nothing to do with the gangs per-se. It's more artificial public policy.
I would be very surprised to see that there ever was any significant street gang activity in Beverly Hills, since that municipality spends a significant amount of money on street patrols to keep criminal activity low. Moreover, Beverly Hills is a fairly racially homogenous city...
Do you remember those movies from the 80's where people would park a nice car in a dangerous neighborhood and when they returned the wheels would be gone?
Imagine someone PAYING for a trip to a neighborhood much more dangerous than those from the movies. Like paying for a visit to a nightmarish version of the bad places in Detroit or Baltimore.
It's just dumb, sorry.
Looking back now, especially as I've been living in Brazil for the past year, I wonder wtf I was thinking. The AirBnb host suggested it and I went for it in a misguided attempt to 'see how the other side live'. In reality there are a million better ways to gain this perspective than going on a 1 hour trip through a favela.
Brazil could benefit a lot from more tourism than it currently does. Amazing food, people, beaches, dancing...employing the people living in these favelas with stable work. Instead of promoting the sorts of tours mentioned above that treats them like some kind of second class citizen.
I would be scared to death. Was this not your first time seeing gunfire?
No doubt, a favela can be a very dangerous place from an foreign, but I understand the fact that many people are curious to see how it really looks in its innards, despite this danger. My grandfather lived his entire life in a favela called Acari in the North of Rio, and I used to go there visit him. About 50 milles distant from Copacabana, Acari is a shit place with an IDH lower than some poor countries in Africa. But, as described in The Economist article, Acari too has a very active economy. You can find all sort of businesses in there. Of course, I'm not talking about millions of dollars businesses, but there's an interesting cash flow running inside of the favela. However it's not enough to make people rich. The life condition in favela are really horrible. Besides all that has been said here, I have to add on point that hasn't been mentioned: Favela are extremely noisy places... It's pretty common bars playing music incredible loud. Besides that, some favelas organise parties called 'baile funks'. These parties have their pros and cons:
- people coming from outside (many spend money buying drinks, food, cigarettes, etc)
- it promotes some fun for young people living in the favela
- These partie are often organised by drug dealers... it attracts some drug adds to the location, and cocaine,
crack, etc run freely
- The music in the 'bailes' uses to be extremely loud. As it doesn't have acoustic protection the entire favela don't sleep during those parties which may go through an entire week-end. It very bad for those who have to wake up to go work.
My advice, do not visit favelas... The vast majority of its population, I'd say more than 99,9% of its habitants are honest people, but this 0,1% and their war with police and other drug dealers represent a real danger for your life.
Is there a point to your comment we’re missing? It’s a lot more interesting to discuss the findings, than your impression of people’s impressions on it.
For example, how much cash flows from these business to traffickers.
When I lived in an affluent part of Rio, I often got my haircut, bought fruit, veg and groceries in the local slum.
Many locals believed the slums were strictly no-go. While some certainly were, many were fine. Rather than build a mental barrier around these places, I find its better to interact.
Common sense, courtesy, some humility are all that are required - that goes for the high brow malls as well as the favelas.
For me, downtown Rio around 'Central do Brasil' bus and train station were far higher risk than many slums.
Various areas around Rio (and SP) have 'Cracklands' (Cracolândia) with many crack cocaine users who are frighteningly unstable. Reports describing hold-ups, with victims cooperating and getting shot - usually in a better parts of town put things in perspective for me.
Some slums are trying to open to tourism, as a starting point you could look up well-reviewed bars\restaurants in slums to get an introduction. As the article suggests, there are many legit businesses in slums, so going to the ones with a lot of business activity is usually a good bet. The economy of a slum can only develop if there is a reasonable level of security.
I can only trust my judgement. I have not encountered any problems so far. YMMV.
I'm not actually all that interested in the exact cash flow figures. What I think is interesting is people's perceptions of some of the mechanisms in play. For example, take "protection tax". If you think about it, governments and the police operate under a very similar principle (you pay for police services through taxes and if you don't pay, you are punished, perhaps even via force if you resist). Also if you think about it, it's not in a drug gang's interest to extort businesses out of business, since then they would have nowhere to get food or clothes for their kids (yes drug gangs have kids). It's interesting how even in places where one would think anarchy would rule, systems still form that are similar to "normal" civilized systems, and it's interesting that there are local economies within slums and bias from outsiders similar to sentiment from some xenophones in US or Europe. It's almost like it's human nature that certain things develop the way they do.
Out of curiosity, why do you think there would not be illegal businesses in place where many people live and on one hand needs to buy things and on the other needs money?
But I read it wrong, thanks @fnodsensei. It reads “licit”, which makes it not so surprising after all. Nothing to see here.
The gist of my comment was that the parent was characterizing everybody as naive (as in the follow-up comment below) while not commenting on the findings. New census, mapping data provided to Google with possibly far-reaching positive consequences, but somehow we need to comment on an imagined public reaction and high moral ground instead.
I don't understand why you think the public reaction is any less important than confirming the fact that a place with the population size of a small country has ice cream shops.
I recall a project several years ago to build some low income housing at one of the edges of Heliopolis, and among the middle class there was a strong feeling of "this is just some corrupt politician pocketing money" or "they just want to hide the slums behind the buildings so they are not visible from the main street".
There's a lot of disdain among brazilian middle class against any government project aimed at helping the lower class. Discrimination is strong in Brazil: racism is rampant due to the slums-vs-rest dichotomy, kids trying to make money wiping windshields at traffic lights are often thought of as hoodlums working for a gangster that burns their income on drugs, etc. Many middle class people don't think about the fact that their housekeeper lives in a slum, and for years, most never knew about the various charitable projects happening in favelas, until Globo started doing investigative reporting about uplifting stories of the sort.
I think the perception of whether a slum has any hope of lifting itself out of poverty is an important factor in how much outsiders are willing to help in that very cause.
But the urban area goes for dozens of km on every way. Rio is confined between the sea and the hills, there aren't many places to expand into suburbia.
Also, just an observation, I noticed a lot of these comments here are tangential to the article.
Interest rates are so God damn high in Brazil you can't really take a mortgage. People save up for their entire lives before buying a home, for the most part. Or you hope to inherit something from your parents, if you're upper middle class. Or alternatively move to a really shitty neighborhood / city so you can afford that (see e.g. Recreio dos Bandeirantes in Rio de Janeiro where all the affluent "Zona Sul" folks have to move to so they can afford a cheaply built apartment)
> The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is currently 4.39%, with actual offered rates ranging from 3.50% to 7.84%.
Ctrl+F % if you don't speak Portuguese and you'll find numbers around the ~8-10% range currently, as well as a reference to rates being at 11.9% (11,9%) as recently as last year
Recall that Brazil is where the United Nations had to tell swimmers to cover any scratches or open wounds in their body before getting in the water for the olympics, and to shower immediately after. And that was in the nicer area. The water quality in the favelas is even worse.
None of the red ones are proper for bathing.
I feel like this word has lost meaning and now is just a placeholder for " I don't like it".
Can someone who's never been to a black hole be allowed to speak about them?
Can someone who's never been to Washington DC speak about US history?
Can someone who's never had cancer speak about it?
Can someone who's never been homeless speak about issues and solutions?
Can someone who hasn't been killed in a favela speak about violent deaths in favelas?
(in case this isn't clear, this is a gibe at the typically left-leaning pattern that only natives of a country should be able to criticise it / only women should be able to talk about abortion rights / only trans people should be able to talk about trans issues / etc)
Why do I have a right to speak about Brazilian favelas and a (team of) reporter(s) whose done dozens (or hundreds) of hours of research on the topic does not?
The comment decries impugns those who have "never been to Brazil". It does not corroborate those who have.
Do I have a right to speak about Brazilian favelas unlike a (team of) reporter(s) whose done dozens (or hundreds) of hours of research on the topic?
Ooohhh, no one can talk about the bad parts of my country, ooooohh.