Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes
Rio mayor Eduardo Paes

Of the cities with the highest murder rates in the world, 41 of the top 50 are in Mexico and Latin America. Of those 41, 21 of them are in Brazil. It is both a stunning and unfortunate fact, particularly as Brazil is doing its best to get ready for the biggest sports show in the world – The Summer Olympics.

So by extension, there are concerns regarding crime in Rio de Janeiro.

Top 50 Most Violent Cities by Country_Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, Australian chef de mission, Kitty Chiller, announced that members of the Australian Olympic squad would not be allowed to visit the favelas “because we could not control visits involving a large number of athletes going to different places at different times.”

While the favelas in Rio, which are communities where the lowest income families often live, are a not-so-uncommon tourist destination, they are also apparently centers for crime: drugs, robberies, murder.

The mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, is doing all he can to fight off this negative perception. “There is a lot of ignorance about Rio and Brazil, a certain drama of how things are,” he said in response to Chiller’s announcement.

The world will come to Rio in August. Brazilians will welcome them with open arms. The first Olympic Games held in South America will be a tremendous event. And then life (and death) will likely go on…

See a previous post called “Life in the Favela: At War with the Pacifying Police

Life in the Favela_NYTimes 1

The slums of Brazil are called favelas. One of every five residents in Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 Summer Games, live in a favela. In this poignant video piece, Nadia Sussman of the New York Times paints a picture of despair as favela denizens seek stability and happiness amidst a war between the police and the drug lords.

Sussman interviews Damião Pereira de Jesus, a resident of a favela called Complexo de Alemão, whose aunt was killed by a stray bullet. He expressed his views of life in the favela after the Police, known as the Pacifying Police Units, came to his favela.

They came giving residents a lot of hope for social programs. But they don’t get close to residents in that way. The government comes with its laws. But here there’s already a law, the traffickers’ law. Residents are confused. Who to trust? Who to interact with?

Everyone has dreams. The favela is full of them. If the government would come and help realize these dreams, the community would be happier. I intend for my children to bury me, not for me to bury my children.

Screen capture of the New York Times video, Pacification Without Peace
Screen capture of the New York Times video, Pacification Without Peace