Since the reading from this week’s class started with an entrepreneur in Brazil, I decided to write about the favelas in Brazil, but to use one in particular as a topic for my final paper; the Favela da Rocinha.
Favelas are shanty towns and unfortunately are very common in Brazil. “Shanty towns are units of irregular self-constructed housing that are typically unlicensed and occupied illegally. They are usually on lands belonging to third parties, and are most often located on the urban periphery. Shanty town residences are built randomly, although ad hoc networks of stairways, sidewalks, and simple tracks allow passage through them. Most favelas are inaccessible by vehicle, due to their narrow and irregular streets and walkways and often steep inclines.” (wikipedia)
The Rocinha saw its first occupants in 1930, when a large farm was divided into small pieces of land; its first inhabitants were farmers also and lived of the land, selling its produce at the weekly farmer’s market.
Starting in 1950 through 1970 there was an intense migration from nordestinos (people that live in the Northern part of Brazil) into Rio de Janeiro – and they would come in search of a job and having no place to go they would go live in the favela.
Still, there was a lot of controversy since these lands are occupied illegally and the units are built by its inhabitants and the structure is not to code. Also, they are built randomly, even though network of stairways, sidewalks, and simple allies allow passage through them. Most favelas are inaccessible by vehicle. However, this ‘houses’ are built with brick and cement, have basic sanitation, and electricity; being very different from the shanty town in other countries where the ‘houses’ are built out of cardboard.
Whether approved or not the Rocinha is not going away. Today the favela occupies an area on 810 thousand squared meters, or 200 acres, and has more than one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, two neighbor association, several non-profit organizations such an “Two Brothers”, banks, restaurants, even a Mc Donald’s. On a not so bright side it is controlled by drug dealers, they are the law in the slums.
Most of the population lives in fear especially at night, where heavily armed gunmen patrol the allies and streets.
Since 2006 there is an ambitious urbanization project that is starting to come alive, but even the architects have to get all this things approved by the leaders of the neighborhood association, if you know what I mean.
So, what kind of organization is this? How does it stand? Will the leaders of the favela allow the government to follow through with the urbanization project?
Even though one may say the drug dealers, controll everyting by fear, they must be doing something right, since all these people live somewhat peacefully in a very small area, along with banks, non-profit organizations, grocery stores, amongst other things. I would like to use this paper to explore more about this unlikely organization.