Saturday, June 30, 2007

Favela´s: The Shadow Side

Though I generally regard favela´s (slums) as grassroots neighborhoods being designed by its inhabitants and therefore potentially sustainable, there´s also a shadow site. This is shown by an action of the police of Rio de Janeiro last week on the Complexo do Alemão (German Complex), one of Rio´s poorest neighborhoods, in order to gain controll over drug trafficing activities. 44 Kills were reported up to now, and Human Rights Watch is asking critical questions about the attitude of the police of Rio.

I already mentioned before that the situation in Rio is comparable to a small scale civil war according to UN standards. The intensity is made painfully visible on this website, which counts the wounded and killed in the favela´s of Rio. Though last week´s action is exeptionally intense (problably related to the upcoming Panamerican Games in Rio within two weeks), it is typical for the way the local government deals with the problems in the favela´s. Sadly, there are hardly alternatives presented to the inhabitants in the form of social programmes or infrastructural investments. This results in a pressure cooker situation, where there is no way out to the citizens, and no alternative except for violence. We can only hope this tendency to violence is temporary, and that the focus will shift to sustainable solutions once the Panamerican Games are over.

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