As the world celebrates some rather amazing athletic skills, Rio’s slums are war zones where drug cartels fight for territory and profits.
This is from Simon Romero, who’s spending some time reporting from the poor side of town:
But in the shadow of the Olympics, a slow-burning war between drug gangs and the nation’s security forces is taking place. As the casualties mount in the favela where Richard lives with his family, the Games seem — to them and thousands of others in some of Rio’s poorest areas — like they are taking place in some distant city.
In a flare-up of fighting over the last week, more than 200 police officers stormed into Alemão’s labyrinth of alleyways. Calling their operation Germânia, the European region of warring tribes that was once largely subdued by the Roman Empire, the police fatally shot two men, while a top counternarcotics official was wounded…
Some of the 70,000 people who live in Alemão, outside the gaze of the television crews focusing on Rio’s wonders, nurtured hopes of a calm as the Summer Games got underway. But then came the gunfire on Tuesday, followed by more battles on Wednesday and an outpouring of desperation and rage.
Am I the only one who sees a little bit of Chicago in all of this? I mean the helplessness of people living in areas without investment, growth, or opportunity.
Brazil is frustrating to watch for a couple of reasons:
a) This is one of the top 10 GDPs in the world. It’s hard to believe that you can see this poverty in a country that manufactures aircrafts and has done a masterful job in using ethanol to move cars; and,
b) Most of the nation’s problems are a tribute to crony capitalism. In the end, it does not create prosperity but it sure makes a few people really rich.
The world will say goodbye to Rio soon. The slums will go back to being Rio’s poor side of town.