With the closing of the Olympics this past Sunday in London and looking forward to the games in 2016, I couldn’t resist writing about a city and issue that I hold very close to my heart.
This past week the New York Times published “In the Name of the Future, Rio is Destroying Its Past“ by Theresa Williamson and Mauricio Hora. This article touches upon the very real issues revolving around the upcoming 2016 games and the impact this mega event is having upon Rio’s most notorious sections of the city, its favelas. Favelas, or shanty towns, are infamous for drugs, crime and sex (e.g. The 2002 film “City of God”.). Yes, dangers exist in favelas (as they do in every urban city) but there also exists rich culture, creativity, beauty and tight knit communities.
In the summer of 2010 I spent significant time in Rio for my masters thesis investigating various human rights related topics regarding the citizens of favelas. On one specific project my colleagues and I researched, wrote, and photographed the egregious government violations regarding the housing rights of the residents of Laboriaux, a section in Rochina, Rio’s largest favela. This basic human right to adequate housing and shelter (indoctrinated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in article 25 back in December 1984) is currently being ignored and violated in name of development and this saddens me greatly. Residents are living under constant threat of removal and are given little to no information about their housing situation other than coming home from work and being met with red ‘x’ marks spray painted on their homes marking them for demolition.*
The Olympics are a time for the world to come together in solidarity and peace, but at what cost to the host city and its people? The people I met, the projects we developed, the issues we researched irrevocably changed me and I wanted to dedicate this post of “Photo Finish” to the residents of the at risk favelas during this turbulent time as Rio’s preparations for the 2016 games begin.
*Please note, this post does not speak for all the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. The example sited was from personal experiences in the favela of Rocinha.