Caught a show of street theatre courtesy of Ta na Rua this evening in the recently demolished, soon to be rebuilt, Lapa.  Their piece was a social commentary on the rapid changes taking place in the city at the moment, and the confusion residents feel about what will happen next, and where they will fit into this new Rio that seems to be taking shape.
Everywhere I’ve been to date in under construction.  Lapa looks like a bomb was dropped, Gloria is all dug up; as is Praca Maua, where commuters are going crazy trying to circumvent the mayhem that has landed there. In addition, all of the favela communities that I have visited to date are under construction, well the pacified ones, I should say.
No-one knows what is happening here, and what happens next.  Private sector heads are footing some of the bill.  Why?  What will they expect in return?  There has been no public consultation at all.
Ta na Rua addressed these issues in their show this evening.  What kind of a city is this going to become with all of this “make-up” being applied in advance of the games?  They portrayed the poor and new migrants to Rio being beaten down by security guards, while borgeouis groups moved in killing samba with new music, and ridiculous habits.  Rio is under fire, according to them, and risks losing here very identity to the elites of society.  Rio will become another Sao Paulo, they said.
Things are already changing rapidly here.  Rent prices are doubling and tripling, and workers are being forced out of the city as they cannot afford to live centrally any longer.  There is a surge in jazz music as popular culture drifts away from the traditional samba enjoyed by workers, favelados, etc.
The streets do feel safer than they did a year ago, and people walk around freely with iPhones and the like in hand – something that until very recently would have been an open invite to thieve outside of certain plush neighbourhoods.  But, the petty crime has still not gone away.  A friends had her phone snatched from her hand only the other day.  She’s lived here for years, and it was not a smart-phone, just a commoner garden one.  Guy on a bike cycled by, grabbed it while she chatted unsuspectingly.  It happens.
This blog posted in January 2012, is transcribed from notes taken in November 2011