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Brazil's government has set the favelas and middle classes against each other

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Brazil's government has set the favelas and middle classes against each other

A year of frustrated protest against an intransigent government has released a wave of pent-up inter-community violence

Nicole Froio

theguardian.com

Saturday 8 February 2014 06.59 EST

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'The attempt to raise bus fares has acted as a reminder that, since last year's protests, things have got worse, not better.' Photograph: Agencia Estado/Rex

In Brazil there is a saying: "A good thief is a dead thief." These words have never been more relevant in today's Brazilian class-ridden landscape, where prejudice, violence and racism run free.

The last week has been full of violent acts in Rio de Janeiro. Once again, police and protesters clashed during a protest in the centre of the city. A few days earlier a teenage boy was beaten, stripped naked and tied to a lamp post by a group of vigilantes for allegedly mugging people in the street. A video of a white man pre-emptively accusing a black, poorly dressed youth of intent to mug him has gone viral. All Brazilians, black and white, rich and poor, are terrified of the aggressive atmosphere. The confrontations are no longer people versus authority; they have become people versus people.

And senior media figures have backed the vigilantes taking justice into their own hands. This week Rachel Scheherazade, the SBT news anchor, said their actions were "understandable", and that if people were pro-human rights they should "do Brazil a favour and adopt a thief". She made these declarations on national primetime TV.

To many, the statistics justify the violent backlash: between 2007 and 2013 more than 33,000 people were murdered in Rio, 1,070 as a consequence of being mugged. Even more frighteningly, 5,412 people died in conflicts with the police.

As the government focuses on the World Cup to please the international community, it neglects the people even more than usual, and things are bound to get worse. Brazil is already the fourth most unequal country in Latin America(according to the United Nations).

The recent crime waves, in particular in the Rio neighbourhood of Flamengo, where the black teenager was attacked, are a direct result of the population's rage that flared up last June. The government's attempt to raise bus fares once again has acted as a reminder that, since last year's protests, things have got worse, not better.

Perhaps people have realised that protesting takes them nowhere, except for gaining short-term change. The government is sending a clear message: we will do whatever we like and your protests can't stop us. This message has become dangerous because people now feel entitled to steal, to use violence and to torture any perpetrators the police fail to arrest.

And there will always be innocent people who suffer. On Thursday, a cameraman was hit in the head by an explosive, allegedly a police bomb, after a protest turned violent. He is in a coma.

The war is high income versus low income. While people from the favelas are driven to crime because of their lack of opportunities, middle class people become increasingly scared of violence and concerned for their security. Rage against the government is turning the population against each other and, despite Rio's glorious sunshine, the atmosphere is of fear and sadness for a city of such potential.

Ultimately, though support for torture and violence is horrifying, the social problems in Brazil are much deeper than vigilantes doing what they think is right. It is not a simple matter of killing a criminal because he is inherently evil; hundreds of years of oppression, racism and government neglect cannot be glossed over with a simple decision not to raise bus fares.

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The cameraman died today. Meanwhile the cuban doctors "imported" by the government are illegally fleeing to the USA. What a utterly mess. :manson:

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Huhh?? The government *attempting* to increase bus fares is pitting classes to a violent warfare??

What a STUPID article. Is the guardian a respected outlet in the UK or is it known as a purveyor of poorly thought-out, poorly researched trash?

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Some anglosaxon media want really badly to have revolutions everywhere, outside their borders. And twist every information, so it appears as if the population is about to make another French Revolution. Their articles about the revolts in Greece or Spain were laughable, many times we laughed a lot in Spain, because we think we aren't fighting enough, and those "journalists" are saying that the streets are on fire.

I guess some countries want their population to think 2 things:

a) That things are really bad in other countries, and in their own country they are working well (FALSE!)

b) That turning against your government when they are doing fascist things is wrong

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That article is really wrong in so many ways. :/

It looks like the writer took the latest news in the Brazil section and tried to stick all them together.

That is not the truth by miles!

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WHAT'S THE ACTUAL SITUATION?

The actual situation is that people are just fed up with their lives. They feel they are being cheated by the government. They want change, a big change, not promises, not the world cup, not a life imprisoned within this system. It is a structural problem. Suddenly people realize that they have a voice on mass protests, but we are so deeply buried in this system that people have no idea where the change should start.

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i always guessed what the average brazilian think of the favelas.....it's a long time that brazil is on an economic rise, the last presidents have been socialist, but still....

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i always guessed what the average brazilian think of the favelas.....it's a long time that brazil is on an economic rise, the last presidents have been socialist, but still....

The average brazilian thinks the favelas are a fact of life and people are used to it. The problem lies when people from the favelas try to get out of their "ghettos" and "invades" the places where the average brazilian enjoys the consumism of the capitalist system.

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Rolezinho-Shopping-Itaquera-_-Robson-Ven

adolescentes-gays-da-periferia-criam-ver

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:) favalas look like a bunch of fun people if the above picture is anything to go buy. They strongly resemble Aussie bogans ;)

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Are they taken out of the places because they are misbehaving?

Brasil is such a big place, it has to be so difficult to rule it and to make it work properly! There's so much to do!

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Are they taken out of the places because they are misbehaving?

Actually not... they are taken out of the places mostly because they are thousands all at once and it scares consumers... some misbehaves, well, thats what the government says... :|

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The average brazilian thinks the favelas are a fact of life and people are used to it. The problem lies when people from the favelas try to get out of their "ghettos" and "invades" the places where the average brazilian enjoys the consumism of the capitalist system.

and there are never been projects of putting them down and build more decent districts?

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and there are never been projects of putting them down and build more decent districts?

The favelas exists for more than a century and as the time passed it became so big that putting them down is simply not an option anymore. The government tries to integrate those places in the "normal" city way of life with basic needs like sanitation, eletricity, etc, but its not enough, the criminal factions dominates the favelas landscape. There are thousands of people living in those places.

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"Screw the middle classes!,

We were kept out of sight,pissed out our heads at his funeral "

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The favelas exists for more than a century and as the time passed it became so big that putting them down is simply not an option anymore. The government tries to integrate those places in the "normal" city way of life with basic needs like sanitation, eletricity, etc, but its not enough, the criminal factions dominates the favelas landscape. There are thousands of people living in those places.

You sound blind. Brazil is the most racist and classist place I've ever been to and life is impossible for the mostly black and mixed lower classes. The only thing your governent does is build walls around the favelas so the americans and european tourists and whities who live in Leblon dont have to see them and get offended.

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You sound blind. Brazil is the most racist and classist place I've ever been to and life is impossible for the mostly black and mixed lower classes. The only thing your governent does is build walls around the favelas so the americans and european tourists and whities who live in Leblon dont have to see them and get offended.

Sorry but i live in Brazil and i wouldn't say that i and everyone else here are simply "blind" to the situation. Its not as easy as you put, the favelas are part of the cities landscapes and there is no way to just put them down like some suggest. The only feasible option is to develop those places to a better life and there are some progress being made like i said (basic needs, schools, electricity), but the many criminal factions are a government within the legal government and that makes things much more complicated.

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Sorry but i live in Brazil and i wouldn't say that i and everyone else here are simply "blind" to the situation. Its not as easy as you put, the favelas are part of the cities landscapes and there is no way to just put them down like some suggest. The only feasible option is to develop those places to a better life and there are some progress being made like i said (basic needs, schools, electricity), but the many criminal factions are a government within the legal government and that makes things much more complicated.

The favelas have been there since basically forever and some of them are BARELY getting basic needs such as schools, electricity, etc. I mean, BARELY? Someone give Eduardo Paes and all the other mayors and the president a medal immediately for giving those silly favelados (what my middle class white Brazilian friends say among each other) electricity! Seriously, give me a break.

As a foreigner who's been to Brazil a few times and from my own personal experience I would say that, yes, the average Brazilian completely downplays the country's problems and you guys come off as completely blind, which is only exasperating the situation. Meanwhile, Brazil has become one of the most dangerous places to visit in the world (of the 50 cities with the highest murder rates in the world, 14 are in Brazil). The lower classes seem pissed the fuck off and ready to explode any minute, and it seems like none of you are noticing this. That article was a spot on description of the Brazil I saw and witnessed.

I can't speak for you Nessie, but if you're like my Brazilian friends who have cars (which is a luxury in Brazil) and chauffeurs, then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. So carry on traveling to Miami and Europe to go shopping and believing that things aren't that bad.

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Just 2 things:

1 - Rio is not the whole country. Is just one city and in my vision as living in this country for 21 years and studying about it, Rio doesn't represent the Brazil's situation at all. Again, is just one city. But as you say, I also can be totally blind as an active citizen.

2 - Car IS NOT a luxury in Brazil. Please, one of the problems we have is that anyone can buy a car and fill the streets. ANYONE

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Sorry if I come off as attacking Brazilian culture, because I'm not. My boyfriend is Brazilian, I love funk, samba, feijoada, pasteis, Brazilian people; I love everything Brazilian. This is just me, a fellow Latin American, who's sick of the solution to most of Latin America's problems being to sweep everything under the rug and pretending it doesn't exist.

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Just 2 things:

1 - Rio is not the whole country. Is just one city and in my vision as living in this country for 21 years and studying about it, Rio doesn't represent the Brazil's situation at all. Again, is just one city. But as you say, I also can be totally blind as an active citizen.

2 - Car IS NOT a luxury in Brazil. Please, one of the problems we have is that anyone can buy a car and fill the streets. ANYONE

I've been to Rio and Sao Paulo. From what I've heard and my research, the North East, which has a higher black and indigenous population is even poorer and more violent.

And cars are much, much, MUCH more expensive in Brazil than in most other places in Latin America and other countries with similar economic indexes (per capita income, inflation, etc.). Just do a little research. The poor CANNOT afford a car in Brazil and the almost USD 2.00 (over 4 reals) one way bus and metro fare REALLY affects these people.

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The Ten Most Expensive Places to Buy a Car (Brazil is number 6, after the UK)

http://jalopnik.com/the-ten-most-expensive-places-to-buy-a-car-1256855393

"Obvious answer is obvious: BRAZIL

1- Tax fees over 100% in some cases;
2- a poor selection of cars (it's getting better, I must admit)
3- Overtaxed and overpriced gas
4- burocracy
5- many others.
Just an example:
Corolla 2014 in US - $16k starting price- considered a compact.
Corolla 2014 in Brazil: 25K starting price - consider a luxury car.P"

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Yes, I know about the prices of cars in my country, I don't need to do research :lol:

But that doesn't mean poor people can't buy. It's the contrary! The poor people get loans from banks in a VERY easy way and have to pay for it for like 30 years. So the people is even more enslaved by the economic system. Everything sponsored by current horrible federal government.

And I'm also not attacking you ULIZOS, but I do believe you have a not so truthful vision about Brazil's reality, socially and economically. I also know a little about my fellow Latin American nations. And I do know every country has a History very different from each other. Especially Brazil being the only Portuguese ex-colony and that does change a lot since Portugal and Spain dealed with their colonies in a totally different way. And the Portuguese way STILL has influences in today's country.

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The favelas have been there since basically forever and some of them are BARELY getting basic needs such as schools, electricity, etc. I mean, BARELY? Someone give Eduardo Paes and all the other mayors and the president a medal immediately for giving those silly favelados (what my middle class white Brazilian friends say among each other) electricity! Seriously, give me a break.

As a foreigner who's been to Brazil a few times and from my own personal experience I would say that, yes, the average Brazilian completely downplays the country's problems and you guys come off as completely blind, which is only exasperating the situation. Meanwhile, Brazil has become one of the most dangerous places to visit in the world (of the 50 cities with the highest murder rates in the world, 14 are in Brazil). The lower classes seem pissed the fuck off and ready to explode any minute, and it seems like none of you are noticing this. That article was a spot on description of the Brazil I saw and witnessed.

I can't speak for you Nessie, but if you're like my Brazilian friends who have cars (which is a luxury in Brazil) and chauffeurs, then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. So carry on traveling to Miami and Europe to go shopping and believing that things aren't that bad.

I'm not saying that things aren't bad ULIZOS, but its not as bad as you put. You have to remember that Brazil is a HUGE country with many social problems, not just Rio's favelas pictured by the foreign media. But regarding to this specific topic, i can absolutely say that the solution is not simply removing thousands of people from those places, the government needs to develop and integrate them to the normal city life, but as everything in politics that depends of huge investment and the political will to transform this reality, mostly because the criminal factions completely dominate those places and they are mostly supported by the local communities. As i said there are some progress being made but that is not enough and i don't see the favelas simply vanishing from the cities landscape anytime soon.

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i'm moving to Brasil in june. How do i become legal here???? help... I'm a newyorker born in Bolivia. I'm absolutely enchanted by this crazy land....

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i'm moving to Brasil in june. How do i become legal here???? help... I'm a newyorker born in Bolivia. I'm absolutely enchanted by this crazy land....

I studied this last semester. Go to the consulate and get your info but it is like this:

Well, you can live legally here without a problem.

- The best way is if you find a job or study.

- You also can get a permanent "visa" if you marry a Brazilian or live in a stable relationship (because we don't have gay marriage yet).

- If your child is born in Brazil :)

- If you invest at least 150 thousand reais (about 75 thousand dollars) here.

You have to applicate your solicitation to the Federal Policy and wait. (Is usually fast). Brazil is way more easier to get in than other countries because we have the notion of welcoming and following the UN directions for peace and love between human beings.

You will have all the civilian rights as a native except you won't have political rights.

If you want to be naturalized as a Brazilian and being a Bolivian you have to live 15 years on the territory without a criminal record.

What citizenship do you have at this moment? If it is American it can be a little more annoying because the USA have strict rules to Brazilians over there and international relations are all based in same treatment... and thanks to the American Congress not approving the new resolutions for Brazilians last year.

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^ Thank you! I've been doing some research... it looks like Mercosul will help at least for 2 years : ) While that happens I will also have a Uniao Civil with my parceiro de Campinas (we are together 4 years now...).

I'm moving in June... Once again thank you rapa...

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But Bolivia is not a member of Mercosul yet..

If you have your partner then it's good to go! :thumbsup:

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Brazil police push into Rio de Janeiro slums

By BRADLEY BROOKS

March 30, 2014

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A police helicopter flies over the Mare slum complex during it's occupation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, March 30, 2014. The Mare complex of slums, home to about 130,000 people and located near the international airport, is the latest area targeted for the government's "pacification" program, which sees officers move in, push out drug gangs and set up permanent police posts. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — More than 1,400 police officers and Brazilian Marines rolled into a massive complex of slums near Rio de Janeiro's international airport before dawn Sunday in the latest security push ahead of this year's World Cup.

Not a shot was fired as the Mare complex of 15 slums became the latest impoverished area to see security forces move in to take control and try to push out heavily armed drug gangs that have ruled Rio's shantytowns for decades.

In the coming days, Army soldiers will begin patrolling the virtually treeless, flat area of about 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) in northern Rio that hugs the main road to the airport and is home to about 130,000 people.

Security forces will eventually set up permanent posts in Mare as part of the "pacification" program that began in 2008 and is meant to secure Rio ahead of not the World Cup and also the 2016 Summer Olympics. Police have installed 37 such posts in recent years in an area covering 1.5 million people.

Sunday's operation comes at a critical time for the security effort. In recent months, gangs have brazenly attacked police outposts in other shantytowns on orders from imprisoned gang leaders who want to stymie the spread of "pacified" slums. With each area policy occupy, gangs lose valuable territory for the manufacture and sale of drugs.

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Navy armored vehicles are seen during an operation to occupy the Mare slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, March 30, 2014. The Mare complex of slums, home to about 130,000 people and located near the international airport, is the latest area targeted for the government's "pacification" program, which sees officers move in, push out drug gangs and set up permanent police posts. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Hilda Guimares, an elderly woman who slowly shuffled down a street on her way to church in Mare as officers from Rio's elite BOPE police unit quickly moved past, said she welcomed the presence of the state.

"This had to happen and it's about time," said Guimares, a longtime resident of the area. "We've needed to clean up this neighborhood for so long, but we've always been ignored. For too many years these gangs have been ruling this place."

Other residents, most of whom were too afraid of both the police and the gangs to give their names, had mixed feelings.

Over the arc of the 5-year-old "pacification" program, shootouts in the affected slums are unquestionably down. But many residents complain of heavy-handed police tactics.

More than 20 police who patrolled in Rio's largest slum, Rocinha, are facing charges for the torture, disappearance and presumed death of a slum resident there, whom they were questioning in an effort to find caches of drugs and guns in the community.

Additionally, residents say that after police set up permanent posts in slums, the state is not following up with strong social programs that would improve their lives.

"I didn't believe the police would actually come until I saw them enter before dawn," said Sabrina, a 15-year-old girl working at a snack stand who asked that her last name not be used, saying she was afraid of retribution by gang members. "Those of us who live here are stuck between the gangs and the police; we don't know who is really going to control this place."

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Just 2 things:

1 - Rio is not the whole country. Is just one city and in my vision as living in this country for 21 years and studying about it, Rio doesn't represent the Brazil's situation at all. Again, is just one city. But as you say, I also can be totally blind as an active citizen.

2 - Car IS NOT a luxury in Brazil. Please, one of the problems we have is that anyone can buy a car and fill the streets. ANYONE

Buying car is a luxury??? In Africa, Maybe. Not in Brazil. Every single member of my family has one or more cars.

All my friends have cars. The problem in here is QUALITY OF LIFE. We need it. Build more hospitals, more schools. That's what we need. And the end of coruption. ASAP.

I've been to Rio and Sao Paulo. From what I've heard and my research, the North East, which has a higher black and indigenous population is even poorer and more violent.

And cars are much, much, MUCH more expensive in Brazil than in most other places in Latin America and other countries with similar economic indexes (per capita income, inflation, etc.). Just do a little research. The poor CANNOT afford a car in Brazil and the almost USD 2.00 (over 4 reals) one way bus and metro fare REALLY affects these people.

We do not need a research. We live here. We know the good and the bad of living in here and i am telling you... you have seen only half of a side of the story!

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