Violence, Brazil and the Olympic Games

After watching the games for a while it is interesting to see how German (and international) media and athletes talk about the Olympic Games in Rio. There are complaints about empty stadiums and arenas, even though the organizers claim that everything is sold out, then there was the long discussion about the green water in one of the swimming pools. But over all people seem to be quite content about the organization of these Olympics. Unfortunately there are also some news reflecting more the “real” Brazil: a gold-medal winning American swimmer being robbed at gunpoint in Rio, and the story of a German canoe coach who suffered a life-threatening injury in an accident while in a taxi. What most of the English-speaking news outlets don’t mention but was discussed in German media is, that this coach had been brought to an official “olympic” hospital, but couldn’t be treated there, so he had to be brought to a hospital across town which took another 45 minutes (and very critical minutes with an injury like this). Following Brazil’s first gold medal won by a girl from an favela there have been some articles about the phenomena “favela”. The guardian has a nice, short video about this very controversial and difficult topic. On a lighter side you can watch Brazils gymnasts winning a totally surprising silver and bronze medal and how much they couldn’t believe it.

The Guardian: Rio Olympics – view from the favela

The Guardian: Rio Olympics – view from the favela

The great series of The Guardian continues as a warm-up for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: The Rio Olympics – view from the favelas, articles written by community journalists which are people actually living there. This is really impressive and sometimes depressing material by people who not only know the favelas, but experience them every day.

About the financial situation of Rio de Janeiro (in the view from Maré):

8 July – The State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) is so broke that it has stopped paying students’ scholarships and teachers’ salaries. It won’t even have entrance tests this year. That is terrible news for the many residents of Maré who have studied for years to try to get into this public college. There is a strike and the campus has been occupied. I have friends whose graduation will be delayed for years because of the strike. The fight is for knowledge. Education is one of the most important things we have in life. We young people like to learn. And now, more than ever, we want that right back.

Long-term effects of the serious lack of police in favelas (in the view from Rocinha)

Rocinha residents took justice into their own hands after a member of the community stabbed and seriously injured his wife. The woman had to be hospitalised after the attack. When locals found out, they seized the husband, tied him up and burned him with cigarettes and candle wax. He was then handed over to the UPP. According to police, the offender confessed to attempted murder, but gave no reason for the fight. He could face up to 20 years in prison. It is common for residents to mete out punishment. There is a culture of intolerance of these cases. This is a legacy of the long absence of police. As with drug trafficking, residents mediate conflicts by themselves. Recently, the city inaugurated a community mediation centre in the favela to resolve problems in partnership with the court of Rio. But cases like rape and domestic violence still tend to be “judged” by residents.

Life surrounded by violence (in an overview article about the project):

My bus home is stopped by a protest. I don’t discover the cause until I arrive home. Hours earlier, 11-year-old Herinaldo Vinícius de Santana was fatally shot in the head on the way to buy a ping-pong ball. He is the second young victim this month in Maré. According to data released by Amnesty International, more than half of registered killings by on-duty police in Rio de Janeiro between 2010 and 2013 were of young people between the ages of 15 and 29. Of those killed, 79% were black.


What is a favela?

When in Brazil it is hard to avoid hearing about them. “Don’t take the wrong exit or you will end up in a favela” is one sentence you might hear, or “he’s from the favela” when talking about people – be it football star or colleague. But what is a favela exactly? It’s impossible to translate, because this word evokes a whole social background, which is far more complex than the “poor people” many people think of. More than 20% of all people in Rio de Janeiro live in favelas, they are much more than places of gang violence and crime. Here’s nice and short introduction.

A gay sex scene on a major soap opera. [insert scream here]

A gay sex scene on a major soap opera. [insert scream here]

We are having the year 2016. And yet it is noteworthy and causes some irritations when a gay sex scene is being shown on one of TV Globo, one of the major Brazilian TV networks and home of many soap operas. And while the actual scene was not very interesting (just two naked dudes, some touching reasonable for PG-13 audience or less and a very reasonably positioned case) there was at least one hilarious commentary by some gays watching it. The video has already been deleted, unfortunately, but the good guys at VICE Brasil made an article about it and transcribed it pretty much. (Portuguese only).


Rio Olympics: view from the favelas

Rio Olympics: view from the favelas

Shortly after moving back from Brazil to Germany I was interviews by a radio station (sorry, German only) about the situation about the Olympic games in Rio. It was 100 days before the start and the opening question was: do Brazilians care? My answer was: not at all. Of course there are the happy view who care and I tried to explain how the Rio Olympics were more seen as a rich-people’s-event and then I explained about the occupied schools in Rio, the impeachment etc. And now, even closer to the opening of the Olympic Games the Guardian has an interesting series about the Games, seen from the favelas (articles are in English and Portuguese). A report from Rocinha, one from Maré and the last one from Alemão. For me the most impressive is the casualness of their difficult living condition.

“Last night, there was such a fierce gun battle that I could not go home. My WhatsApp groups warned of the tension in the favela so a friend offered to let me stay at her house.”


“Avoid leaving the house! Heavy shooting in the Complexo do Alemão” read the headline on the Facebook page of a local newspaper. With clashes between police and drug traffickers increasingly frequent these days, the TV news announced that during the Olympics the Brazilian army will occupy some slums. Of course, the Complexo do Alemão is on the list!