2016 Olympics: What Rio doesn’t want the world to see
Articles,  Blog

2016 Olympics: What Rio doesn’t want the world to see

When you leave the International Airport
of Rio de Janeiro and head towards the south of the city which is where all the
beaches are, you pass a sprawling informal settlement called Maré. it’s one of hundreds of neglected shanty
towns like this in Rio. It goes on for miles. But when you pass
by there today all you see is this wall. Look at this map of Rio: Here’s the part that you probably know.
It’s the South Zone it’s where all the iconic beaches are. Maré is in Rio’s
North Zone which is where most of the city’s poor live. They don’t have sewage systems they
don’t have housing rights they don’t have anything, but you know the city is
really concerned about how loud the cars are because they’re worried about you
know the ears of the poor people that don’t have food in their stomachs. The city just install the big new schoolin this community a few months ago. You’ll note that when we get to this
part of the highway, the wall becomes totally transparent,
giving us a perfect view of the shiny new school Every time international attention comes to Rio, the
city scrambles to build up infrastructure around tourism for
visitors to see that it’s this amazing city The problem is the visitors will come
and they go, but the people of Rio are here to stay, and they’re frustrated that their governments spends
so much money to build up certain parts of the city and completely neglects
others. The Olympics is no different in this
case. In fact it’s probably the biggest excuse Rio has to pour tons of money
into making the city look good. This is Patricia. She rides the buses
here in Rio and has noticed a major change in the bus routes recently. Patricia is showing me a few examples of the 11 bus
lines that were cut between the poor North zone and the touristy rich South
Zone, all in preparation for the Olympics. It’s now much harder for a resident of
the North Zone to get down to the beaches of Ipanema or Copacabana. So why put the bus lines? If discriminatory bus lines are bad here’s where it gets worse. So back to this
map: out here in the west is a place called Barra (Baha) R’s are pronounced like H
in Portuguese. This is a new part of the city where a lot of the Olympics action
is happening. It’s where the Olympic park is going to be built. And because of
this it’s home to what one real estate publication is calling a “cosmopolitan
awakening.” Tons of real estate investment. And of course a bunch of dramatic
promotional videos to go with it. there’s this one guy in Carlos Carvalho. He’s
a real estate developer and owns 64 million square feet in Barra. Last year
in a series of interviews with big publications, Carvalho sketched out his
dream for Barra. His goal is to turn this place into a
“new Rio” a city for the “elite … of good taste noble housing not housing for the poor.” This guy’s that 12 richest person in
Brazil and he’s got a ton of political influence to make his dream happen. Here
he is with Rios mayor who’s reelection campaign he generously donated to. They’re
just, you know, looking over plans for how they’re going to reshape Barra. But there’s one big problem for people
like Carlos carvalho and his dream to make Barra a haven for the rich. If you’re
interested in land value, the less poor people you who have in your land the greater value can give to it. They
think of the city as a place for you to invest and not a place to live in. Over the years little settlements of a
few hundred families have popped up in Barra. It’s usually workers unable to find
affordable housing and creating communities of their own. These places
have been around for decades and many of them have gained legal status for their
property. But to the luxury-minded developers of this new part of town, these informal settlements represent a
barrier to their plan. So when the Olympic park was planned for
this area of Rio it wasn’t much of a surprise when the
city came in with eminent domain eviction orders, telling these
communities that they would be moved to public housing complexes usually far out
of sight of any international visitors. Most communities left, some happily
taking the money that the city gave them, some mounted intense but failed
resistance. But I visited one community that didn’t give up on the fight to keep
their homes. Vila Autódromo was a community of around 600
families near where the olympic park is being built. it’s not on the actual park property but
it’s in the sight of the park. This is what it looks like today. People
chose to go there because there was no drug trafficking or militia. It was very
safe very– a good sense of community. close to jobs and schools. It’s hard to know that when you just
visit the community, but you kind of get a sense of that by seeing the people
who are still resisting, because they’re holding on to that memory and
they want to keep some of that alive. After years of fighting with the city
hall, only 20 families of the original six
hundred remain in this community. Fierce protesting in a flurry of international
press got the mayor to finally concede, saying that the twenty families could
stay, on condition that the city would build them nicer-looking homes, lest, heaven forbid, the international
community catch a glimpse of the real Rio. Through the long fight, some of Vila Autódromo was able to stay. But this is rare. Most
communities that receive eviction orders no longer exists. At least seventy seven
thousand two hundred people have been removed from their homes in Rio de
Janeiro since 2009. That’s according to government data. And
much of this to make way for infrastructure and real estate projects
associated with the World Cup and the Olympic Games. So it’s kind of a shame because the
Olympics end up coming in and kind of whitewashing areas and reframing them you lose a
lot of the personality of the city. of course there have been numerous benefits
to the people of Rio thanks to the Olympics investments: New
bus lines, revitalization of all parts of the city, museums, parks. This stuff will make life
better in the city for sure. But in the end Billions of public dollars that were
supposed to benefit the people ended up bowing to the interests of a few people
with a lot of money. And instead of investing in the underserved Rio will once again hide them from view.


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