Guilherme Fragomeni is a SC Network associate in Curitiba, Brazil.
Sustainable Cities Network members Luis and Guilherme Fragomeni, alongside their colleagues at Vertrag Urban Planning are participating in the “Morar Carioca” Project in Brazil. This national contest will select 40 urban planning offices with the best proposals to improve housing, sanitation, mobility, sustainability, social integration and other sensitive matters in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.
But before the Vertrag’s planning team could meet local stakeholders in the favelas, strong and firm action was taken by the State to increase the security situation in these areas. During the last five days, 45 armored cars were used to transport 2,600 men from the military and police forces into the favelas against AK47’s, grenades and home-made bombs. The main goal of the operation was to drive away armed groups that controlled and oppressed the favela population, opening up space for the Peace Making Police Units (UPP), a successful programme that utilizes specially trained police officers help secure, organize and free residents from crime domination. UPP units are already operating in 12 Rio favelas with a high level of local community support.
With the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics on the horizon, the State and the City of Rio de Janeiro have made an integrated effort to halt drug domination of the favelas and reduce the social division between the “legal” structure of the city and the famous informal, organic growth of the favelas.
This story demonstrates the collision of soft and hard power in the pursuit of a safer and more equitable city. The urbanization of favelas is a huge challenge that will not be achieved in the short run through violence nor forced relocation, and with the expulsion of the organized and armed groups, the State must make a strong commitment to remain present and active inside favelas, filling the gaps from the previous power structure. In the meantime, we will continue doing what we can to create a safer and more sustainable city. The results of the “Morar Carioca” project will be announced on December 8th.
The immediate need is dignity, security and citizenship to a population long forgotten by a government before the obligation to organize safe and inclusive worldwide sport events. After all, if the former is achieved, Brasil will have made a big step towards the latter.
Here’s hoping the competition to create a better city comes before athletics.
To see a photo essay on the situation in the Complexo do Alemão, please click here.