poverty Tag

favela tour in rio, brazil, poverty, vila canoas, tourism

Life in one of Rio’s favelas

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro favela tour In the alleys and walkways of the Vila Canoas favela in Rio de Janeiro, it’s easy to lose your sense of direction, height and time. There are no roads in this community and at times residents navigate their way through passageways that suddenly descend into the plumbing under a building. There are tunnels of staircases cut into stone filled with smoke and illuminated only by the light at either end. And throughout it all is a warren of paths split off in every direction as dictated by the needs of the locals. But for the people who live in this slum on the side of one of Rio de Janeiro’s mountains, this is home and they know it as well as anyone knows their neighbourhood. Vila Canoas is home to just a few thousand people, forced into a favela by poverty and with no ladder to climb...

Read More
05 January
rio de janeiro, favela, pacified, brazil, favela tour

The military occupation of Rio’s slums

Rio favelas in Brazil With the morning still dark and most residents still sleeping, the troops moved in. Special forces police, navy commandos, armoured military vehicles and helicopters all swooped in a carefully-planned operation. They had been surrounding Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela for four days and this was the climax of their operation. They had warned the 70,000 people living in Rocinha that this moment would come and the authorities were heavily-armed, ready for any resistance. As they quickly spread through the slum, the troops met very little opposition. Some locals watched from their windows as their neighbourhood was occupied by the government and some women were reportedly seen crying. But at six o’clock in the morning the chief of military police declared that Rocinha was now under his control. Not a single shot had been fired. This was less than two months ago (November 2011) and now here I was, walking...

Read More
04 January
New Orleans, Louisiana, crime, poverty, katrina, is New Orleans safe

The Big Easy is harder than you think

Crime in New Orleans Just a block or two from where I was out drinking one night, two people were shot dead and several more injured in altercations that escalated quickly. The next day the local newspaper had a big article about the murders, filled with the usual fist-shaking condemnations of police and politicians. Next to that, though, was a similar-sized article about what effect the shootings would have on tourism. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of New Orleans. It’s a city where decadence meets dangerous and where it’s not just the drink prices that are criminal. New Orleans is one of the most popular destinations for visitors in the US but outside the purring tourist-fuelled economy there’s suburb after suburb of poverty, crime and hopelessness. Hurricane Katrina didn’t help, and it gets most of the attention these days, but it’s not the problem. It merely exacerbated it. There were many...

Read More
08 November