The ‘Olympic Experience’ In Rio’s Favelas

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The 2016 Olympics began with a bang on Friday evening with a spectacular Opening Ceremony, but the preparations for the event has hugely impacted the life of Cariocas. For the poorest citizens in Rio de Janeiro it has not been a positive experience.

Hosting the Olympics was meant to revamp the city, especially improving its transport and infrastructure. As it turned out, most of the money was poured in Barra de Tijuca, an already rich neighbourhood.

The Athletes’ Village which is based there will be converted into luxury apartments at the end of the Games. Almost all the new express buses go to that region as well. The new metro system which will go to some favelas will only be open for citizens to use at the end of the Olympics, during the Games only ticket holders can use it.

A staggering one in seven people in Rio live in a favela, but that didn’t prevent the local government building walls were along the motorway, allegedly to stop inhabitants of the favela being troubled by the noise of the motorway, but thought to be there to prevent tourists from seeing the abject poverty of the houses perched on the sides of hills. Antonio Pedro, the tourist minister for the city denied that they were hiding the favelas , claiming tourists ‘love to experience’ them.

The reality of life in the favelas however is harsh, especially with the preparation for the Olympics. In the Complexo de Alemão, one of the largest favelas in Rio, the violence has intensified within the past six months and  almost daily shoot outs have resulted in the killing of two residents and wounding of 5 others, including 2 police officers. In other favelas violence has also increased to a level not seen for many years.

Security was another issue that Rio was going to improve ahead of the Olympics, however in June of this year, murders, muggings and carjackings rose sharply in comparison to last year and in the same month killings by police officers also doubled. After months of violence and police occupation, hopefully the end of the Olympics will allow favela residents to rebuild their lives.

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Spanish, Portuguese and European Studies student, on her year abroad in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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