Went to visit Morro do Providencia today, and to an English course being provided by the US embassy there, and in other pacified favela communities.  There were kids roaming the corridors of the UPP headquarters, which felt more like a community centre, with different courses on offer.  There were five kids in attendance at the English class, one of them who was so tired, he was bearly there at all.  The kids say UPP is good, and they are no longer scared of being killed by a stray bullet, a fairly common cause of accidental death in favela communities.

There is work going on everywhere I go around the city.  Every part of the city looks like a construction site at the moment, causing traffic chaos for commuters.   Also, everyone’s rent is shooting up as landlords get ready to cash in on the Olympic windfall, pushing many residents out of the city.
Providencia was Rio’s first favela, indeed Brasil’s first favela. Emancipated slaves began to settle on this steep hillside overlooking the port where they were previously traded.  Now, as part of Rio de Janeiro’s enormous pre-Olympic facelift, Providencia is being sliced up, which means booting out any residents who get in the way of this “progress”.  Recently, residents doors have been daubed with paint, the city’s classy way of indicating that a residence, a family, are to be removed.  Without dialogue, someone comes along and dabs paint on the door.  For whoever lives inside that door, it means trouble on the horizon.
In Providencia, no-one has been told if they will be re-housed, and if so, where.  Cidade de Deus is a prime example of ill-thought-out re-housing, to make way for “progress” for city folk.  Will familes compensated, and if so how?  What would any money be worth to people who have lived in a community for decades, with jobs held locally, and kids attending local schools.   Residents have been refusing to sign agreements to leave their homes, and according to one source, city officials have tried getting young kids to sign on behalf of their parents.
The fact that they are even bothering with paperwork is surprising – the arrival of a bulldozer is a more typical tactic.  But, the paperwork must mean the city knows it cannot just push the people out.  However, they will go to any lengths to get some familial mark on the forms, it seems.
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