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Voices Rise Against “Gaza Wall” Around Rio Favela, in Brazil

Favela Dona Marta in Rio, Brazil Environmentalists, human rights activists and residents of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are opposing plans to surround a Rio favela (shantytown) with a 650-meter-long (2,132 feet) concrete barrier. They describe it as "discriminatory" and in the best "Gaza wall" style.

Authorities say the "eco-barrier", which will encircle part of the famous Dona Marta favela in the southern part of the city, is intended to protect the nearby Atlantic rainforest from illegal occupation as well as improve security and living conditions for residents.

"This is something that is very similar to what Israel does to the Palestinians and to what happened in South Africa," said Mauricio Campos, from the Rio human rights group Network of Communities Against Violence.

He said a wall would serve only to "segregate" slum residents from the rest of society.

The wall is expected to be completed by the end of this year and, according to reports in the local press, may be followed by similar barriers around Rio's other favelas.

In a statement, the state governor, Sergio Cabral, who ordered the "eco-limit" fence to be built, said it was part of moves by his administration to improve living standards and protect slum residents from the armed gangs that control many of Rio's 700 or so favelas, with an estimated 2.5 million population out of a total 10 million.

"What has happened in Rio de Janeiro over the last two decades has been the passivity of authorities in relation to the uncontrolled growth of the slums," he said. Such walls would, Cabral said, help the city deal with "drug trafficking and vigilantes, by putting limits on uncontrolled growth".

Dona Marta is home to an estimated 7,500 people. The favela was the setting for an award-winning documentary about cocaine by the British film-maker Angus Macqueen, as well as a 1996 Michael Jackson music video directed by Spike Lee.

Jackson's producers were forced to negotiate access with the local drug traffickers. Since last November, however, the shantytown has been under 24-hour police occupation as part of a state government initiative to make Dona Marta a "model favela". In December, Rio's security secretary boasted that the slum was "free from the law of the rifle."

The pilot project aims to rid the favelas of traffickers using a mixture of military force and "hearts and minds" community policing.

Silvio dos Santos Ferreira, member of a Dona Marta residents association attacked the idea of the wall saying that the "alleged environment protection" is nothing else but an "Israeli type policy" like that applied with the Gaza Wall.

"It's nothing else but a system to segregate and further discriminate against the poor people of the city," he added.



  • Show Comments (14)

  • falupa

    This is an absolutely absurd idea. It will cut off all contact with everyone. Not only this, but also keep the poor even poorer, because they won’t have the same facilities and access as they once might have. It is important to make sure that we stop this segregation between rich and poor.

  • Forrest Allen Brown

    big dead citys
    as the poor move in to get jobs they drive down the wage as they will start to work for nothing .
    thus even working they can not pay there bills .
    they start out as good hounest people but like rat topia they start to feed of each other
    and the government ups the anti by eletric black outs , no water ,food prices go up , but beer & liquer along with smokes remain low
    through in a 3 to 4 day holiday once a momth . and they rae traped .
    no money to live and no money to leave , they turn to drugs for fast cash , prostution is quick bucks also ,
    they become the living dead . no real use to the socity in whitch they were born into
    they become the bane of the government with no idea on how or want to deal with them !!!!

    you look at brazila was a nice place but the government did not take steps to keep the
    poor from building the favelas in the first place but they needed some to wipe up
    all the trash they made , wanted the cheep young girls ,

  • João da Silva

    That was a fantastic essay, AES. To understand you,one has to read you again and again.I whole heartedly agree with you when you wrote:

    [quote]The mega city is dead. It does not work! It was a great idea while it worked. It is the past. The history of man is a pendulum of ‘the romantic ideal’ and the rational. The pendulum is swinging to the rural-idyllic. If you choose to live on the slopes of an active volcano you will be destroyed by it. Choice is a fundamental of human existence! Choose wisely.[/quote]

    Yes, the Mega City is dead. You can not smell the flowers or the plants anymore. Even that Austrian guy who designed and built the Shopping malls in U.s (I forget his name) went back to his homeland declaring that it was good while it lasted.Unfortunately we forget the history (like the foolish things Niemeyer did and continue doing so).

    I don’t think that you are a “the heartless right-wing ranter”.You (and I) believe in moving the population to the interior of this huge country of Continental size, creating job opportunities and thus improving the quality of life of the “Favelados”. Just ask your wife the reason for building Brasilia right in the middle of nowhere (Though I would have preferred some other architect).

    There are plenty of smart Brazilians and Cabral and Minc are not among them. CabralÀ‚´s idea of building a wall to “protect” the Atlantic Forest from the “Favelados” is a lame excuse to justify his stupidity and lack of Macro-Vision. I think that is the reason why you received criticisms from “FaveladÀƒ£o” and Ch.C.

  • AES

    Favelado! Ch.c!
    You are a linguistic fascist. Language evolves by usage of native speakers. Apparently the use of the verb ‘to flaunt’ as ‘to flout’ is in process.

    flaunter n.
    flauntingÀ‚·ly adv.
    Usage Note: Flaunt as a transitive verb means “to exhibit ostentatiously”: She flaunted her wealth. To flout is “to show contempt for”: She flouted the proprieties. For some time now flaunt has been used in the sense “to show contempt for,” even by educated users of English. This usage is still widely seen as erroneous and is best avoided.

    [quote]Have you never heard the word INTEGRATION ![/quote]

    In the U.S. the “do gooders’ forced ‘forced integration’ by busing children tens of miles inorder to mix populations. The result was a corruption of the educational system in the U.S. The destruction of the sense of ‘neighborhood’ and a profound waste of the peoples resources. The ‘liberal’ always believes that ‘the new’ is the solution. It is not. The proof is the result. The culture of the U.S. has degenerated since 1969. That was the appogee of intellection in the U.S. Man landing on the moon. Everything has been in a state of degeneration since then. SAT scores, divorce, drug addiction, crime, obeisity, reckless debt, moral decadence. Liberalism without balance, regard for historical context, is at best naive and at worst stupid.

    Your belief that you can macro manage society is false. Segregation is a state in media res. It is the consequence of peoples choosing. Choice based on the abilities to choose. Communism does not work. Socialism does not work. Study hard, solve your own problems. If everyone solved their own problems there would be no problems. I personallly have for nearly a quarter century abandoned the city. After acquiring enough capital, working 7 days a week 14 hours a day for ten years, bought 100 acres in rural Indiana the; 1/2 hour to an international airport. I am not interested in living adjacent to 10 million people. It is a self perpetuating hell. The quality of life of Rio, for most people, is a plague of filth, noise, poverty, addiction, crime; a loveless T.V. ridden life of delusion, want and wanton consumerism. If you cant buy it steal it. The mega city is dead. It does not work! It was a great idea while it worked. It is the past. The history of man is a pendulum of ‘the romantic ideal’ and the rational. The pendulum is swinging to the rural-idyllic. If you choose to live on the slopes of an active volcano you will be destroyed by it. Choice is a fundamental of human existence! Choose wisely.

  • ch.c.

    To the idiot AES “The displacement of 7,500 people is a tragedy, but if nothing is done now in 5 years it will be 75.000 people.”
    There are over 600 favelas in Rio alone !
    Should then Robbing Hook put 600 walls ?
    Because using your same insane reasoning, in five years it will be MORE than 600, and every favela will have more residents zhasn today.

    Have you never heard the word INTEGRATION ! Of course not.
    You prefer SEGREGATION ! Correct ?
    You are not in favor of less wealth & social inequality…but for more INEQUALITY….as long as YOU are a beneficiary in that minority elite. Right ?
    Your children are not in public schools, but in private schools ? Right ?
    Because public schools are not good enough. Right ?
    And your children deserve a better school than the majority. Right ?
    And to pay for these private schools you need a higher income than others. Right ?
    And since you are a real idiot, your only way to earn more money is to be a member of the corrupted minority elite class. Right ?
    Everything for the minority elite, and the residues for the majority. Right ?
    I bet you would not mind that the majority of Brazilians be street beggars as long as YOU have sufficient money for you and your
    family. Right ?

    Wellll…that is exactly how Brazil is governed, controlled and managed…by people similar than you !!!!

  • Faveladão

    To AES, the heartless right-wing ranter
    To AES:

    It’s FLOUT the law, not FLAUNT it.

    FLAUNT means “to display” or “wield,” not “ignore.”

    If you are going to criticize people who have long been the objects of terrible economic, political and social policies over centuries, and call their attempts human settlements “criminal” despite the fact that Brazil’s allocation of resources, from land to water to minerals, has always been directed at the few over the many, particularly in one of the oldest states in that country, Rio de Janeiro, at least critique your own self first, starting with your poor and incorrect use of basic English!

  • ch.c.

    build a better justice system to control crime !
    But there wont be any until Brazil reduce their wealth and social INEQUALITY !

    Brazil has one of the World Highest CRIME RATE….and one of the World Highest WEALTH AND SOCIAL INEQUALITY !

    If you look at South Africa, it is not that much different from Brazil.

    Believing otherwise is pure heresy and utopia !

    If someone has not his acceptable (not necessarily fair) share of the national CAKE, he will simply try to take it, one way or the other through illegal activities such as stealing, trafficking or why not commiting crimes.


    It is not the “legal” justice that will reduce the Human Injustice.
    Especially in Brazil, where even the “legal” Justice is totally CORRUPTED. From policemen to judges ! And it CANNOT be any different.
    Simple example :
    Your policemen earn very little and your Judges have a comparatively a very high salary.

    In my country
    A judge earns around TWICE what average policemen earn.
    A judge earns around 4 times what a junior cashier clerk or worker filling the shelves earns in a Supermarket.
    A judge earns around 4 times the minimum wage.
    An average bureaucrat working for a municipality, state or federal government earns around TWICE what a junior cashier clerk
    A judge earns around 30 % more than school teachers.
    A judge earns around 3 times what a salaried plumber, carpenter, or a construction worker earn.

    And we end up with a VERY LOW CRIME RATE…AND SOCIAL PEACE !

  • João da Silva

    [quote]I lived in Rio for several years, know where the favela of Santa Marta is, and I have to say that I agree with Cabral – something has to be done, and this wall is a good start.

    I am not sure if I agree with Cabral who wants to build Gulags on prime properties. At least, Stalin had the good sense to build them in Siberia. The right thing for Cabral to do would be to use his good relationship with Minc and send all the residents of the favelas in Rio to RR. Plenty of action there.

  • AES

    [quote]Dona Marta is home to an estimated 7,500 people.[/quote]

    They are living criminally. Illegally. Passivity is, it seems, an invitation to expand without limit. They ‘occupy’ and ‘hold hostage’ those legally living in the surrounding community. What gives these people to flaunt the law? It is easy to criticize. The posters are propagandists. They are themselves are without solution. To be ironic you could give the ‘Gaza Palestinian’ squatters of Rio jobs building the wall. The problem is King Kongish. If the law is not enforced then Rio has absurdly surrendered to anarchy. Surgery is a horror when viewed on camera, but it is necessary to save the body. Poverty and landlessness is not justification to seize public land and be narco trafficers. Removal and containment are one solution. Mass arrest would be another. The displacement of 7,500 people is a tragedy, but if nothing is done now in 5 years it will be 75.000 people. It is tragic that there is such poverty. 2.5 million people living in a state of tacit criminality is a tragedy. Allowing these people to “occupy” whatever lands they choose is nihilism. It is akin to an epidemic of Cholera. Litterally infecting the city of Rio. It is better to be pro active than reactive. It is tragic that this was not addressed 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. But if you do not act now what will Rio be like in 10 years. These are hard economic times, the wall is do-able. Poverty is a tragedy, failure to be responsible for your own behavior is equally tragic.

  • jakob

    I agree with Cabral
    I lived in Rio for several years, know where the favela of Santa Marta is, and I have to say that I agree with Cabral – something has to be done, and this wall is a good start.

    People here (on this forum) and elsewhere already started to compare it with the Gaza wall, but it is nothing of sorts – the wall will be between the favela and THE ATLANTIC FOREST, therefore trying to prevent the expansion of the favela futher into the forest. Therefore, the wall WILL NOT SEGREGATE THE FAVELA FROM THE REST OF THE CITY.

    Everybody who lives or lived in Rio knows that SOMETHING, ANYTHING has to be done and in this case I agree 100% with Cabral. Otherwise the entire Rio will turn soon into a gigantic “favelao” (big favela).

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Correct me if I am wrong, but is this the same politician that wanted to “sterilize” woman in the favelas to control crime…now he is calling a barrier an “eco-fence”[/quote]

    I don’t remember. BUT….BUT…. I think the idea of eco- fence was launched by a Sorbonne educated scholar when he was in charge of the “Environmental Affairs” of Rio. Because of his stupendous performance in that job, he became the Minister of Environment of our entire Republic. We are expecting him to come out with more brilliant ideas after our Carnival is over.

    P.S: Please do not confuse “Environmental Affairs” with “Extramarital Affairs”.

  • Forrest Allen Brown

    look at porto rico
    the goverment there put up a fence in las perlas .
    it worked to the advantage of the drug gangs and the
    mifa as the police only had 2 points to breach the walls
    and all the people at the gates were the enforcers for the
    king pins .

    but in brasil they should build the wall to keep the forest safe from wood harvesters
    and to keep the houses from going farther up the hill and into the woods
    and people that grow pot on goverment land

    build a better justice system to control crime , get better cops and ploiticans to control crime
    sterlize the men not the women

  • jon

    Correct me if I am wrong, but is this the same politician that wanted to “sterilize” woman in the favelas to control crime…now he is calling a barrier an “eco-fence” 😮

  • ch.c.

    Walls…around Rio favelas !
    Welll….finally Robbing Hook and his gangat the U.N. could say….”look at how we have eliminated favelas.”

    No more favelas….for the foreign reporters & tourists…eyes !

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