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August 23, 2010


mallory elise

when i saw this on the news the first thing i said was "hmm, rachel will write about it because now people are going to say that it's not safe for olympic tourists". every 100 safe trips to Rio there is bound to be one incident right. i felt pretty darn safe when i was there last month, so i think the safest way to think is that anything could happen anywhere at anytime. but thats how the world is. at least they kept on with the half marathon the next day!

Fernando Monteiro

Nice post. As a Brazillian / Carioca, I personally think your text provides a reasonable perspective on the incident. Good job!


Not sure I agree. Even if it is every once in a while (which is rarely the case) the fact that this kind of thing happen just proves my point about safety in Rio. I´ve never lived there neither do I have any desire. It would be nice living in such a beautiful place except Rio is the most unequal and messy place I have ever seen. This type of incident happen all too often, the issue is that people living there do not consider it major unless it is on the news (as in this case). Not to say that this does not happen in São Paulo, but I have never seen or heard this type of situation here. I bet you can find it only if you go to the worse places in Sampa or in very unusual situations - such as those seen a few years ago. Still cariocas live with this nightmare constantly everywhere. Maybe not every day but a good few days in a year (I imagine) in areas like those of the incident and almost every other day in the favelas. My experience in Rio resumes to that so I can speak from experience - even if is short. And, no I don't think I was unlucky. It just didn't get news coverage since these are part of Rio's life. [In my first one-day visit the bus I was in got in the middle of a confrontation among the police and gang from Rocinha with guns bigger than those I have seen in NY when there was a bomb threat and those were huge - it was by far one of the scariest moment of my life. The second time I stayed for a week in a hotel in Leme a few blocks from a favela. I could hear and see gunshots and I swear it was like those you see in a war movie - at first I thought it was fireworks though. The third time, for two more fortunate days, there were no major problems except the usual robberies on the beach and the bizarre sight of the very rich walking past the most vulnerable - poor children - indifferent to their need as if that was OK]. I am yet to go back to Rio (mostly to visit a friend) but I really do not look forward when I remember these things. It is the the type of attitude like Fernando that bother me the most. Living in denial, that is. You know, Rio does not need to be like this and Brazil does not need to be at war. THAT TYPE OF INCIDENT IS NOT NORMAL, PEOPLE!!!


Great post Rachel!


The police in Rio have uniforms and equipment like soldiers (I am talking about the regular police, not BOPE) and without their presence in massive numbers there would be a great deal of property crime and violence. Few cities in the world need the amount of police that Rio does. The inequality in Rio is astounding and this, combined with years of government neglect of large swathes of the population have created this situation. Its not by chance that all the 'bandidos' are black or nordestino.

As for safety for tourists, well, Rio is just not a city that you can walk around in a relaxed way like you could in other places. You have to have your guard up be aware of what is going on around you. I think the Olympics will pass off fine - the Olympic zone is far from most favelas and the city will be under lockdown. But should it be this way?

Rachel - are you falling into the habit of viewing 'security' in a particularly Brazilian way - i.e. to keep certain groups of people apart? Security in most of the world means something different - it is less about us versus them - rich vs poor - and more about protecting the wider society from very small numbers of crazy or violent people or terrorists.

I could not agree more with Simone. We should not try to normalize this type of violence. The daily experience of many cariocas, as evidenced on the pages of O Globo shows that there is a huge amount of crime in the city.
Ok, it may not affect tourists in all cases as they will likely be ensconced in hotels in the zona sul. Frankly though, I am not so interested in the tourists. What about the millions of Cariocas who daily experience urban chaos and witness or directly experience crime.

Just because one can live a nice life, stay in a nice hotel (with security) in the areas of zona sul and barra does not mean that things are really fine there. They are not. The police basically keep a lid on the the pot - just - and incidences like this show what happens when the lid comes off.


hahaha sempre tem um paulistano!
Simone, eu também sou paulista, e acho q vc devia esquecer um pouco os regionalismos q, infelizmente, são tão fortes no Brasil.
Se algo ocorro no Rio, ou no sul, norte, isso deve preocupar o Brasil INTEIRO!
Todos somos brasileiros e se você tem o privilégio de morar em uma cidade segura ( o que nem de longe é o caso de São Paulo) isso só deveria ser um incentivo para vc querer ajudar aqueles que não moram.
É lógico q oq ocorreu não é normal. mas vc não parece estar fazendo nada a respeito, além de reclamar. ... Como se tudo isso tivesse ocorrido em uma cidade muito longe da sua!

thanks for the great post Rachel!


I live in Rocinha and was able to see everthing transpire from my window when i was woken at 8:30 in the saturday morning. Its awful this stuff goes on but living here we hear gunshots often. Do we like it, of course not. Its too bad becase Rio is a beatiful city.

I will write details of what happened in my Blog, most in the news do not know everthing that went down..you notice that not one of the
"hostages" was interviewed after this all went down? Kind makes you wonder eh? I will post within the next week all the informations I have receved.

My Favela life


Carol eu concordo com você! Não é questão de ser problema só do Rio, muito pelo contrário. Isso queima o filme do país inteiro. Mas, mais do que uma questão de imagem, é uma questão de qualidade de vida, principalmente dos cariocas e de todos nós que gostaríamos de visitar a cidade.
Sim, entendo que reclamar só não adianta, mas a indignação é o primeiro passo para mudanças. Só indignação não serve de nada, mas deveria ser a primeira atitude tanto de moradores de lá como de toda a população brasileira.
Só pra ser justa, tem muitas coisas que me deixam "puta" a indiferença da população à violência no Rio (ou qq outra cidade do país) é uma delas, mas o alto nível de poluição em São Paulo é outra. Vou escrever um post sobre isso no meu blog em breve. Acho horroroso a atitude paulistana em relação ao meio-ambiente. Eu não tenho medo de criticar, mas longe de mim reclamar só por reclamar. O intuito é criar soluções. Infelizmente, se a gente ignorar o problema (ou dizer que não existe, como é o caso do Rio) isso nunca poderá mudar, não é?

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