Eduardo Paes, the hardline Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, has indicated that he may try to demolish the favelas that were affected by recent flooding and landslides, including Morro dos Prazeres, where 25 died, and where I visited last year. Paes is no friend of the poor and his concern for their welfare appears feigned. It is more likely that he will use any excuse, including the recent tragedy, to erase the political and security problem that these informal settlements that cover Rio’s hillsides represent. This will of course accelerate as we approach the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics… and as to what will happen to the people who live in Morro dos Prazeres, nothing so far.
if this appointment is any sign of what is to come… this is going to be war on the favelas.
So, with Rio de Janeiro now hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, and a huge set of social problems providing big obstacles to a PR success and the place climbing the world rankings of ‘global cities’, who have the right-wing administration of Governor Sergio Cabral and Mayor Eduardo Paes appointed to advise them on security?
Well, it’s none other than Mr Zero Tolerance himself, the ex-Mayor of New York and failed presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani.
As I’ve argued before, Giuliani’s macho urban politics have inspired the new tough choque de ordem (shock of order) approach that has flourished under Paes undermining the previous progressive social measures of former Mayor Cesar Maia, in particular the Favela Bairro program that attempted to make the illegal settlements in which the excluded minority of Rio’s population live, into normal functioning neighbourhoods. Cabral and Paes have turned this back into an ongoing confrontation, which is costing lives and livelihoods, and if this appointment is any sign of what is to come, the World Cup and the Olympics are going to mean more than just the usual high security and surveillance exhibition that these mega-events have become – this is going to be war on the favelas and war on the poor.
(As ever, thanks to my eyes in Rio, Paola Baretto Leblanc, for the link).