Brazil: Right Side of the Wrong Life
This essay depicts an intersection of stories exploring the rhythm of chaos and change in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro as its residents anticipate the approaching 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Life in the favelas is chaotic, intense, rhythmic, but also home to the new middle class, baile funk, new businesses, poverty, and thriving communities. Favelas hold a labyrinth of stories and memories throughout the alleyways that intrinsically wind like veins pumping life into a culture of its own.
(The narrative weaves together conversations I heard while photographing in the favelas)
My community is changing. We don’t know what to expect. Some find peace, others find the same repression. The police are just another gang. They take our baile funk away, they take our culture away. The police look at us like we are all criminals. We are not criminals. This is my home. This is my family. I work. The kids now go to school because there are no more baile funk parties that go all night. But the schools aren’t any better than before. Amigos de Amigos, ahh, you know? The traffickers are still there, some say. They are just waiting for the Olympics to end so they can come back. They still have guns hiding. I can work at night now since Pacification. Before it was too dangerous. Too many shootings. We couldn’t cross neighborhoods. Here in Complexo da Maré, we want an alternative to Pacification. We don’t want a police state. Under the traffickers, we live under different rules. I feel safe. My family feels safe. But not during the violence. The police come in shooting. There are different rules under a police state. I hear that the police and the traffickers work together. Who really works for who? I used to work for the traffickers in Rocinha, now I push cigarettes and candy on the beach in Ipanema. And the girls from Porto Alegre I don’t like. They treat me bad. They are building a cable car so tourists can come up and take pictures of our church, but what about our open sewage system that they will walk past, and then judge us? Why don’t they come do something about that? I am forced to leave my home. My community. The house I built with my own hands. It took me 15 years. And for what? A highway. They say they need another highway. Another parking lot. What more will come?