Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A gondola floats over the Complexo Alemao, a massive complex of favelas that was pacified in 2010 in a bloody police operation. The gondola system was installed to help residents get to trains and buses without having to negotiate the steep hills and difficult roads. Critics complained the $133 million it cost to build the gondola system could have been spent better.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

A drug deal in Antares, a favela on the edge of Rio. Deals are made openly in the favelas controlled by gangs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Crack packets, which sell for about $2.50 each, on a dealer's table in the tough favela of Antares in the hinterlands of the city. The drug, which arrived in Brazil only in the last couple of years, has proved hugely profitable to local drug lords.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

There are more than 1,000 favelas in the city. Control of those favelas is divided among police forces, drug lords and militias. The city is attempting to "pacify" many of the favelas near the tourist districts. Those in the hinterlands or away from the public eye remain impoverished, drug-infested neighborhoods.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Crack arrived in Brazil two years ago and has rapidly become a nationwide epidemic. Parts of Rio, known locally as "Cracolandia," have become shantytowns of crack addicts. This area is about one mile from the stadium where the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics will be held.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Under an overpass along rail lines, people smoke crack. The drug's popularity in Brazil has drawn comparisons to the crack epidemic in the United States in the 1980s and '90s. There are virtually no resources or outreach programs to help get people off the highly addictive and destructive drug.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

A woman outside a dilapidated building that now serves as a crack den in the impoverished favela of Mangueira, which is about one mile from the stadium where the opening ceremony for the Olympics in 2016 will be held.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Rio Mayer Eduardo Paes is enjoying surging popularity because of a booming economy and the city's return to prominence. Despite the promising future, many critics accuse him of leaving many of the city's favelas, such as Mangueira, behind.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Two teenagers pose with their weapons in the favela of Antares, which lies at the edge of Rio's municipal boundary. Residents of Antatres don't believe the police will ever pacify their favela, citing its distance from tourist areas and future Olympic venues. It is controlled by drug gangs that openly sell cocaine, marijuana and crack in the streets.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Children play soccer on a dusty field in the Palmeiras favela. Nearly half of Brazil's population is younger than 24. There are supreme challenges facing the country as the economy grows, yet educational resources remain inadequate, especially in the favelas.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The city's largest favela is Rocinha. With an estimated 250,000 residents, it is a city unto itself and was once one of Rio's most dangerous neighborhoods. Rocinha is one of the favelas that have been pacified by military police forces. Many residents complain that crime, such as robberies, has gone up since the drug gang members were arrested, killed or thrown out. They say the police are corrupt and the drug gangs' iron-hand rule kept crime to a minimum.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Rocinha was dominated by the Amigos dos Amigos (Friends of Friends) gang. It now has the city's largest pacification police unit, with 700 officers.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The city is undergoing a rebirth in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. In Rocinha, a labyrinth of narrow corridors and staircases meanders up a hillside next to some of Rio's most expensive real estate. Critics see the improvements as merely cosmetic and benefiting only those with money.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Relatives of Elizeu Santos Trigueiro da Silva, a 15-year-old student gunned down by members of an elite police force, sit in the family home the day after his death. The family lives in the Arara favela, which is controlled by drug gangs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Blood and bullet casings lie on a curb in Arara. An elite military police unit entered the favela, which is controlled by the powerful drug gang Commando Vermelho (Red Command), and killed three people, including Elizeu Santos Trigueiro da Silva, who his family says had no affiliation with the gang. Heavy news coverage of the boy's funeral and an outcry by residents prompted a police investigation, a rarity in cases such as this.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The sister of Eduardo Trinidade da Silveira mourns during his wake at a funeral home. Da Silveira was killed during the police operation in Arara. He was allegedly a drug dealer for the Commando Vermelho. Homicide rates in Rio are at their lowest point in 20 years, according to government statistics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Friends comfort Aurea Cristina da Silva, mother of Elizeu Santos Trigueiro da Silva. The teenager, a popular and successful student, was killed outside his home.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Mourners walk through a cemetery during a funeral for a 15-year-old boy killed during a police operation outside of his home in Arara. Violence still plagues vast areas of Rio's impoverished neighborhoods.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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Taking back the slums of Rio de Janeiro

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Partygoers casually snorted cocaine off tables set up in the plaza in the Rocinha favela and waved guns in the air as they danced. If neighbors didn’t like the bass-heavy electronic music pumping until the early hours, they had little recourse: Rocinha was a Neverland-like world where boys were kings and the state was far, far away.

But the gang no longer calls the shots in Rio’s largest slum. Now, the cops are in charge.

After half a century of shocking neglect, Rocinha is one of the handful of Rio’s sprawling slums that have been retaken by the state.

Although the Amigos and two other drug-trafficking gangs continue to control the majority of Rio’s almost 1,000 favelas, the “pacified” slums are now living through development, investment and the decidedly mixed blessing of being run by Brazilian military police.

Read the full report: Brazil police’s takeover of slums from gangs is a mixed blessing

– Vincent Bevins

4 Comments

  1. November 25, 2012, 12:39 pm

    GOD bless the people of the favelas

    By: guest
  2. November 26, 2012, 10:46 pm

    They are SLUMS!

    Stop calling it *favelas* as if that makes it seem cool and hip. SLUMS, SLUMS, SLUMS, I tell you!

    By: JM
  3. November 27, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Favelas is the term for slums in Brazil.

    By: Fmcasella@gmail.com
  4. February 2, 2013, 6:47 pm

    What people can't understand is that inner city crime won't go away unless they show the poor a way to earn. Remember a hungry man is a angry man. If not and selling crack is a way to feed our kids then that's what they'll do and they will die for that. I guess what i 'm trying to say is that the kids selling the crack is not the problem the country have to find another way for them to make money

    By: rromaneromane4567

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