A night scene in the Rocinha favela in Rio de Janeiro on July 8, 2014. Rocinha is the largest favela in Brazil. (Lorenzo Moscia/Redux)
Since losing its capital status to Brasília in 1960, Rio has been in decline; investment dried up, brains and businesses fled to arch rival São Paulo, and violence became endemic. The number of favelas grew exponentially, and everything from traffic violations to murder seemed to go unpunished.
Since October 2009, when Rio won its bid to hold the Olympics, authorities, spurred on by progressive Mayor Eduardo Paes, have retaken control of several high-profile favelas, sending in battalions of special-operations police to remove the traffickers and then installing a community-based presence called Pacifying Police Units, or UPPs.
But the program has been limited, and the task ahead remains enormous. Out of Rio’s more than 1,000 favelas, 17 UPPs have been set up in 68 different communities and police forces are unprofessional, corrupt and poorly paid.
In addition, many innocent people were shot by the police forces on the initial stage which worsen the already little trust that the people in the favela had in the police.
There has been no real investment and little in the way of public services. On the outside, the favela’s youth frequently are confronted with social exclusion and have limited employment opportunities making them subject of constant recruitment by the drug gangs which seeks younger members to work in frontlines.
Some people wonder what will happen after the Olympics, but the majority of them believe that the spotlight will go somewhere else and the favelas return what they are. | Read More
In this May 24, 2014 photo, a boy looks at the camera as he sits inside a traditionally built tent in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil. (Felipe Dana/AP)
A Tatuyo girl plays at Tupe village on the outskirts of Manaus in Brazil on June 15, 2014. (Mast Irham/EPA)
A woman cleans her home in Manaus, Brazil on June 14, 2014. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)
No one could accuse Nilcilene Miguel de Lima of being easily afraid. When loggers beat her and burned down her home in Lábrea – in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon – the environmental activist refused to give up her struggle. When they killed her dog and frightened away the armed guards who had been sent to protect her, she carried on without them. But after they murdered her fellow campaigners and warned her she would be next, the mother of four finally fled.
Today, she is in hiding hundreds of miles from home, looking out of the bars on the window of a temporary refuge in Manaus and wondering what happened to Brazilian justice and the world’s interest in protecting the planet’s greatest rainforest. “I’ll be hiding for the rest of my life. The people who killed my friends and destroyed nature should be the ones in prison, but I’m the one who has no liberty,” she says. “All I ever did was protect the families who tried to conserve the environment.”
That is an increasingly dangerous ambition in Brazil where, according to a recent report by Global Witness, more environmental and land-rights campaigners have been killed than the rest of the world put together. The study found that, on average, one activist has been killed in the country every week since 2002. If that trend continues, four will die during the course of this World Cup, though very few cases are likely to make headlines.
Most of the murders occur in remote regions of the Amazon – places like de Lima’s home of Lábrea in Amazonas state, where loggers, ranchers and land-grabbers are seizing property from smallholders, subsistence communities and indigenous tribes. Guns and muscle make the rules. Police are usually either absent, complicit or too weak to deal with the gangs of armed grileiros. The ethical consequences are immense.
Located in an arc of deforestation that stretches from Mato Grosso, through Acre and Rondônia across the Bolivian border, Lábrea is among the most remote, dangerous and important frontlines of environmental protection on the planet. Whether fighting climate change or conserving biodiversity, there are few more pressing struggles in the world than the one taking place here. Yet it rarely gets much attention in Brazil, let alone the rest of the world. The stage is too distant, the drama plays out too slowly and the economic interests are weighed against the activists, who are often accused by their enemies of holding back development.
Getting to the flash points is a challenge. Most occur deep in the forest. The terminal at the nearest local airport is little more than a shed and it receives only seven scheduled flights a week. The road network is even less developed. Lábrea is at the end of the Trans-Amazonian Highway – a 4,000km road that was supposed to stretch from the east coast all the way to Peru, before the project ran out of funds and became mired in the mosquito and disease-infested swamps around the town.
As the town at the end of this line, Lábrea is a surprisingly bustling, sometimes surreal place with a population of more than 40,000 people – an indication of just how much human pressure is growing in the Amazon. A 20m statue of Mary with a neon halo dominates the central plaza along with dozens of brightly coloured – and almost completely unused – recycling bins placed every 10 metres along the path. A short walk down to the Purus river is a slum of boat-dwellers living on fetid waters; vultures perch on their corrugated tin roofs.
From here it is still three days’ journey by motorboat to de Lima’s home in south Lábrea. She is president of Deus Proverà, an association of Brazilian nut farmers and rubber tappers in the community of Gedeão in the south of Lábrea. Located several days canoe ride from the town, the area is dominated by a gang of gunmen who work for loggers and farmers. It is a hotspot for murder and intimidation. According to the Comissão Pastoral da Terra (Brazilian Pastoral Land Commission), six community leaders were assassinated in the Lábrea area between 2008 and 2013 and 51 local activists continue to receive death threats. Precedent suggests one in 10 of them will be murdered in the coming years.
De Lima is tougher than most. Struggle and tragedy have defined her life. She grew up in Xapuri in Acre, the headquarters of Brazil’s most celebrated campaigner Chico Mendes, who was murdered in 1988 after he tried to halt loggers and establish extractive reserves for small farmers. These were areas where the right to harvest natural resources were granted to subsistence farmers, fishermen, rubber-tappers or nut harvesters, normally as buffers against the big farms and ranches that are responsible for the worst deforestation. De Lima’s father was a co-founder of the Union of Rubber Tappers alongside Marina Silva, who later became the country’s most effective environment minister. Her husband was killed, de Lima says, on the orders of loggers and half a dozen fellow community leaders have been shot, stabbed or beaten to death in arguments over land and conservation. | Full article
Are you serious? Hope you’re just kidding. It has been going on for a long long time, nearly 700 protests took place in Brazil in 2013. Where have you been during all this time?
Here, as reminder, I’m going to put some old stuff (like headlines with some details) I pick. There you go:
"A vast crowd filled Rio’s streets, one of a wave of huge nationwide marches against corruption, police brutality, poor public services and excess spending on the World Cup. Simultaneous demonstrations were reported in at least 80 cities.”
"Protest began against rising bus fares to pay for World Cup stadiums. Now protests target all government corruption.
An 18-year-old was killed by a car during protests in the Sao Paolo area.”
"Football supporters fleeing rubber bullets, roads into stadiums blocked by angry crowds, mobs throwing stones at FIFA offices, Confederations Cup placards being ripped down and burned in the midst of mass protests.
It was all very different in 2007 when Brazil was awarded the tournament. Back then, crowds in Rio erupted with joy. In the outside world, few doubted the wisdom of the decision. Football belonged in Brazil. In the home of carnival and samba, it would be a party like no other.
But euphoria has steadily faded as preparations for 2014 have drawn attention to the persistent ills of corruption, cronyism, inequality and public insecurity.”
"Protesters’ grievances are united around a common theme: social inequity. They decry a political culture marked by corruption, a general lack of a return on high taxes, and point to inadequate government upkeep and spending on infrastructure, education and healthcare. That stands in stark contrast to the country’s preparations for the FIFA World Cup to the tune of some $14 billion of state investment. The tournament’s lavish funding has served to illustrate the divide between the country’s haves and have-nots.
“The government pays for the World Cup but we don’t have hospitals. We don’t have schools, education,” says, a 33-year-old human resources worker.”
> Brazil protests disrupt Independence Day celebrations (September 2013)
> Protests disrupt FIFA visit to Brazil World Cup venue (October 2013)
"In Fortaleza, a city of glaring inequality, 130,000 live in extreme poverty, a mother sold her baby for £15 – and a £150m stadium has been built for next year’s tournament."
> Anti-World Cup protesters clash with police after Sao Paulo rally (January 2014)
> Brazilian cameraman brain dead after being injured in protest (February 2014)
> Anti-World Cup protests across Brazil (May 2014)
> A year has passed since photographer Sérgio Andrade da Silva lost his left eye. On June 13, 2013 — a night now known as “bloody Thursday” — Silva was documenting the fourth in a series of protests that had paralyzed the heart of São Paulo.
"He was one of 837 Brazilians who reported injuries in protests last year.
[..] officers were not trained to properly use the “non-lethal” weapons they readily employed against mostly peaceful protesters. According to international protocol, the rubber bullet that struck Silva should have been aimed below the waist. Three other Brazilians also partially lost their vision as a result of the inappropriate use of non-lethal weapons by the military police in protests last year.
During a hearing on Brazilian police abuse held in March at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a coalition of civil organizations testified that confrontations with security forces during protests had resulted in the deaths of 23 people.
Two protesters died last June after inhaling an excessive amount of tear gas, while another nine were killed during a police operation against a protest in Rio de Janeiro. The following month, a 12-year-old was shot and killed during a protest in Minas Gerais. Even the elderly were caught up in the crackdown, with the deaths of a 66-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man at the hands of police.”
World Cup Protests in Brazil | June 12, 2014
1. View of a huge banner against FIFA during an anti-World Cup protest in Rio de Janeiro. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
2. A protester is detained by police during a demonstration demanding better public services and protesting the money spent on the World Cup soccer tournament in Sao Paulo. (Nelson Antoine/AP)
3. Riot police block demonstrators in Sao Paulo. (Chico Ferreira/Reuters)
4. Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd who was injured by riot police, is assisted while sitting in a petrol station during a protest in Sao Paulo. (Nacho Doce/Reuters)
5. A protestor argues with police during a demonstration in Sao Paulo. (Rodrigo Abd/AP)
6. A protester throws a molotov cocktail at police in Sao Paulo. (Marco Bello/Reuters)
7. Riot policemen detain a demonstrator in Porto Alegre. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)
8. A wounded demonstrator is detained by riot police during a protest in Sao Paulo. (Lunae Parracho/Reuters)
9. A police officer runs with his weapon in hid hand after clashes with demonstrators outside of the Tatuape subway station in Sao Paulo. (Lunae Parracho/Reuters)
10. An anti-government demonstrator takes part in a protest against the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)
A dog sits under a sun umbrella on Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro on June 8, 2014. (Darren Staples/Reuters)