Inside Rio’s favelas, the city’s neglected neighborhoods

Inside Rio’s favelas, the city’s neglected neighborhoods

If you go to a Google map of Rio de Janeiro and put it into 3D mode, you can see what the city looks like as it was designed by urban planners. But you will also notice parts of the city
that don’t look like the rest. See the difference? The people who live in these parts of the city, with the clean lines and the well thought-out design, are called
“people of the asphalt.” The people who live in these parts of the city are called
“people of the hill.” Even though the people of the asphalt and
the people of the hill live closely intertwined throughout the city, they live vastly different
lives. These informal communities that look like houses stacked on top of each other, sprouting out of the jungle, are called Favelas,
home to both vicious drug gangs as well as some of the most peaceful, creative, and resourceful
people in Rio. I want to show you want they looks like on
the inside. A favela is a community that was built without
any oversight from a public authority–no zoning, no building codes, no public services. These places just grew out of the hills over
time thanks to two main factors: First was slavery. Brazil imported 11 times more slaves than
the United States and Rio alone was home to more slaves than the entire American south. Slavery ended in 1888, and free slaves, still denied
many rights in society, built informal communities on their own. In more recent times, favelas have been fueled
by massive migrations, from rural Brazilians coming into the city looking for work. Not able to find affordable housing, these
workers built their own communities. Today, 25% of Rio’s residents live in these
favelas. I spent time in 6 of Rio’s favelas to figure
out what happens when parts of a city develop without the presence of a government. This is Rocinha. It’s Brazil’s largest favela and has been
dubbed a city within a city. It’s a completely self sufficient economy,
the result of decades of makeshift solutions to basic needs like electricity and running
water. Without a formal government presence, the
residents of Rocinha created their own association which helps coordinate public
projects and resources. Since these associations grew up totally informally
by people who had no training in public administration, the resulting community design brings with it a little
more zest and creativity than your traditional city. But make no mistake, Rocinha is a full-on
functioning mini city with the city of Rio de Janeiro. This impromptu resourcefulness is common within
favelas. Here I am in Vidigal, a favela not far from
Rocinha. This man Paulo is showing me his garden. But it wasn’t always a garden. 15 years ago, this hill that we stand on, was teeming with garbage. Paulo decided to cleaned it up, planted trees and cultivated
a garden space that now produces fruit. He did this without asking permission, because, after all, there was no one to ask permission from. If you look around the graden, you’ll realize that everything is made from trash. On the other side of the city is a Favela
called Maré. The people of this community have created
art centers for young people to come learn new skills. They also support established artists to create
projects around the city that explore and communicate life in the favela. Here they are building a model of their favela
out of recycled wood. In Providencia, a favela near the port zone,
I met up with this guy. Mauricio, a photographer who lives in this
amazing house. Mauricio photographs life in the favela, providing
transparency to the good and the bad of these places He thinks of photography as a weapon to fight
against everything from drug cartels to the government when they show up trying to remove
parts of his community Whenever he sees corruption or foul play in his community, he photographs it and distributes it to a network of local and international media contacts. Over the years, people have learned not to mess with him. Why are these people who live in poverty and
neglect, so driven to create beauty in order to survive? This reality of neglect from public investment, has created a culture of creative survival. But there’s a dark to this too. Right now we are traveling over Complexo Do Alemão, which is a huge complex or block of favelas We’re not going into the streets today, because this place is still very much run by drug trafficking gangs I would be sugar coating the situation if I didn’t talk about the fact that drug gangs stil have major influence in a lot of the favelas and Alemão is one of those places. Perhaps the most powerful gang in Rio is called the Red Command, a group that began as a left-wing political rebellion and whose headquarters are in Alemão. Cocaine arrived in Rio in the 1980s, enriching
the gangs and allowing them to grow in power and territory. The Red Command became more violent and lost
its political ideology, focusing entirely on drug and arms trafficking. The fact that favelas aren’t formal and aren’t regulated, means that both that they can become incredibly vibrant because people can take this attitude and build on qualities and be creative and change your environment, but it also means that you can get incredibly dysfunctional places when the energy and the approach is the opposite. So you have these two extremes and they come out of the same force: informality, lack of regulation, and flexibility. In 2008, the city of Rio was ready to take
over this lawless territories of Rio. They assembled a special force of police officers
to enter the favelas and drive out the gang influence. They call this process “pacification of
the favelas” But this gets tricky really fast. There’s been a big discussion in the United States
about police brutality. But Brazil is on a whole different level when
it comes to police violence and corruption. Human right watch estimates US police officers
kill one person in every 37,000 arrests. In Rio that number is 1 in every 23 arrests. So you can see why some felt skeptical of letting the police come into the favelas to try to restore order. This is Santa Marta. It’s the first favela that received pacification
forces back in 2008. It also happens to be the place where Michael Jackson decided to shoot a music video. Pacification worked for Santa Marta and a few other favelas, for the first few years after 2008, but this favela is small, and the city dedicated
its best police forces to the job. It’s been a whole different experience in a place
like Alemão and other bigger favelas. Many of the favelas that I visited that had apparently been pacified, were still very clearly under the influence of the Red Command. So while there have been some successes in pacification, the city still has a huge challenge ahead of it in taking control of these places. International attention paid to favelas is
usually directed towards the conflict between the gangs and police. There’s movies and video games about this. This problem has been perhaps disproportionately amplified across the world. But while gang violence is certainly a problem,
it represents one small slice of the favela experience. What seems to me as the more striking and interesting aspect of favelas, are the thousands of men and women who are thriving in creative way in spite of being neglected
by their government.

100 thoughts on “Inside Rio’s favelas, the city’s neglected neighborhoods

  1. If I was the government, I've already destroyed all the Brazil's favelas and gave decent homes for the people. Favelas are a regress 😬.

  2. The most problem is THE GOVERMENT. If you think how the drougs or guns get in inside of Brazil, you are gonna see that there are huge influency of goverment. Cops are also corrupt. The first step to try end up with the crime is investigate the politicians and arrest these FILHOS DA PUTAS

  3. bro 99 percent of the gangs in Rio belongs in favelas and is stupidly hard to the government to intervene.

  4. America has almost the same Dangerous Hood city in every state , starting from N.Y to Jacksonville , Atlanta , Chicago , Indiana , LA , Oakland and Brotherly love Philadelphia, and Puerto rico .

  5. Red command didn't lost its political ideology. It has reinforced it. This is what communism is about.

  6. i really hope the best and good things happen in Brazil. 💚 from Indonesia.🇮🇩

  7. I have a lot of friends who visited the favelas, and while they said that it was interesting to visit, most were awful places to live. There's a lot of squalor and poverty everywhere, and disease is rampant. Lot of the places smell bad, the water quality is poor, and gang violence always poses a threat. It's interesting to see how these communities function, but the ancient Mesopotamians seem to have lived in better conditions. Granted, some favela residents get used to their living conditions, but it still doesn't make them completely satisfied. Overcrowding is a real problem!

  8. instead of sending in the Police, how about sending in some Help, resources and Aid! The nerve of the Brazilian Government to turn their backs on these people.

  9. It’s just amazing how most social ills in the world today can trace their roots back to racism or other forms of bigotry. I know this is an over simplification but it’s fair to say if Brazil cared equally about all its citizens, the massive wealth inequality that gave rise to the favelas wouldn’t have even been a thing.

  10. Favela looks like every city/town in India. I think Favelas might be better, as they are completely cut off from the government.

  11. So resourceful. That guy who cleaned the hill and made it into a garden that now produces fresh fruit- lovely!!!!!

  12. I remember passing by one with the most beautiful view of the ocean! Don't remember the name but the view! Wow!

  13. Brazil is a rich country if you look at the amout of money they have in their country but if you look how much money each person has you will see its pretty low and thats why there are poor people in brazil and rich people in brazil.. if you are a gamer like me and you ever seen a brazil person you should keep in you mind he is probably one of the rich brazil people and not the poor one! idk why i just wanna say this.

  14. Favelas; tragically wonderfully flawed, beautifully human, spiritually restorative, a testament to the power of collective souls. The army, policia, and gangs will never trample that underfoot

  15. I was born in a favela called morro do cantagalo its near copacabana and ipanema i left for france about 4 years ago and i new a few people who were shot and killed not just by police or gang members but also there were good thing like friends were usually more than friends it was more like everyone was from the same family like brothers more than friends it was both at the same time a good thing and a bad thing because when 1 person got killed usually another would get right after and when i came to france i noticed theres the same thing but not nearly as strong because there was police there very often so there was less killing but also friends were still very close but still less

  16. Dude I wouldn’t say their thriving in creative ways but surviving in creative ways. These people are just trying to survive day to day living you’ve got to know that is true. You said it yourself untouched can’t sugarcoat the situation. Dangerous neighborhoods with vibrant art communities provide away for citizens to express emotions of sadness and longing and to cope with the environment. Everyone just wants to survive

  17. Brazil is a beautiful place…I lived in São Paulo for over a year and will never forget it but I used to see from a far the favelas and wonder how can government let a major population live in such conditions…I hope I can go back to Brazil someday.

  18. Okay this is actually scary, i talked to my brother about the Favelas today and when i get onto youtube i get a video about the Favelas in my recommended!?… naaaaah

  19. want to see how favelas really are? watch some videos of a YouTube channel called Factual RJ

    try to find "art and beauty" in their videos, and come back here to tell your thoughts

    I'll wait.

  20. When you realize you’re forgotten. You start to forget. No longer waiting. Without much fear, We do. Black love. Black children

  21. I was born and raised in rio, I’m Brazilian and I think it’s good to spread awareness. These happen due to the local state failing, not the people. Brazil’s federal government is corrupt, trying not to solve the problem push it away. Trying to remove the people in favelas isn’t going to work. The police are brutal and harsh and aren’t making it significantly better. Favelas aren’t bad they are resourceful. They need to remove the influence of the gangs, thats what causes the problems.
    If they can’t to that then the government needs to understand that they are neglecting people and need to give them better *public housing*.

  22. Os politicos adoram as favelas, porque podem manipular as pessoas menos educados e consguir seus votos nas eleicoes…

  23. what is the second factor for favelas forming? is it migration? please help, i need this for a competition

  24. This is also in puerto rico where I’m from naranjito it looks exactly like this that’s why they finished filming fast and the furious there after people in the favelas stole all the production equipment js

  25. The Brazilian government is waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ to start doing something about the housing, meanwhile, the government is thinking about doing something, maybe after uncountable generations, the housing problems get soothed a little bit, I think Brazil needs some miracles.

  26. Może nie będzie tu wielu polaków, ale dziwnym trafem ten film wyskoczył mi w polecanych właśnie teraz kiedy Pezet u Taco na płycie nawija "Wawa nie Favela" 🤔

  27. the only neglect from the govt i see is not allowing citizens to arm…organize…and cleanse the red command from their midst

  28. I grew up in Rocinha. It's a place where you need to get along with the right people. Make relationships and fast. That was survival. Yet myself personally I still maintained humility to all people. It wasn't always bad, partly because I had my ear to the movements happening in the favela. I love Rocinha it was home! I then met my now husband and am now living in rural Massachusetts. Such a marked contrast between two worlds.


  30. So your telling me that Rio police murder there criminals and all things end up good in the end?

    Uh… maybe the US should learn from them then locking criminals in prison and hoping they’ll learn from there mistakes.

  31. The favelas are what make Rio de Janeiro what it is. The view of them on the hills at night is amazing. It's a shame how the people there are treated. They should be well taken cared of.

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