Battle for Rio
Rio de Janeiro, famous for its lifestyle and beauty as much for its violence, has
initiated a unique experiment: A“pacification process” in the favelas was launched in 2008 with the goal of improving city security in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.
For more than 40 years, Rio de Janeiro was a divided city – the poor lived in favelas on the hillsides and the rich near the beaches. The city authorities considered the favelas the source of Rio’s urban problems, citing them forcrime, violence, and the creation of a culture of poverty. The first goal of the new pacification program was to regain control over these pockets of statelessness. In general, the population welcomed the strong police presence and the reduction in drug violence. However, as the promised deluge of public goods and services failed to materialize, many residents have become skeptical of the program’s true intention. The pacification process has created another problem that so far does not seem to worry its strategists: the division between the pacified favelas and those that will likely remain unoccupied by police forces because they are locatedfar from the wealthy districts. These areas are considered uncontrollable by the authorities and thus the responsibilityto get rid of the daily violence lies in the hands of the residents…as they fight a true Battle for Rio.