Papo Reto, or Straight Talk, is a group of citizen journalists in Rio de Janeiro documenting life in the Complexo do Alemão favela. They were responsible for exposing the circumstances surrounding the death of 10-year-old Eduardo de Jesus, shot and killed by police in April, and they've been especially effective using video to reveal police abuses, working with Witness and gaining international acclaim. Next month, Al Jazeera is slated to release a documentary about the group.
Why was Papo Reto created?
Papo Reto happened naturally and became a collective around March 2014. At the end of 2013, there were really strong rains in Rio de Janeiro. Here in Complexo do Alemão, many homes were destroyed. People in the favela involved in social issues worked together and managed to help families with everything they needed after the disaster. After that, people went back to work. Me and so many others were concerned about social issues and trying to help out in some way. So we saw the potential of working together as a team to help people who lost their homes. Some people continued working together and we became the Papo Reto collective. Papo Reto was born from the idea of the strength we had working together.
What's the role of Whatsapp in the work you do?
The role of "zapzap" and so many other tools and social networks are essential, since it's through them that we communicate in real time, and often in strategic ways about everything happening in the favela. Our Whatsapp groups are popular resistance groups, guerrilla communication, collective protection.
What do you consider Papo Reto's greatest achievement?
We're not seeking achievements, but rather collective advances. We're less than two years old, but through our work we've already put Complexo do Alemão on the map in a real way. We've done this showing the violation of rights as well as showing what's positive in the favela. Our importance is being able to bring the name of Complexo do Alemão to the world and have an impact to be able to transform our reality in a positive way. Achievement means having more and more people learning about us through multimedia, and multiplying this knowledge and potential.
The group has received threats due to your work. What kind of daily risks do you face?
The majority of people in Papo Reto received at least five threats, all of them, unfortunately, from public security agents; in other words, the police. The biggest risks are having false evidence used against us, or being kidnapped by the police, or being shot and killed based on the simple fact that we exposed the violent and wrong ways that public (in)security forces use in the favela.
What are your plans for the group's future?
Continue working with communication. But we don't have a base or headquarters, even a small one, to hold meetings, store equipment, or hold workshops that require certain material, so that's a goal. Our big plan is to multiply the methodologies and techniques we've been learning to show the reality of young people who live in conflict zones, prejudice, racism, and other abuses.
Images used with permission from Papo Reto.