Story about my photo report "Inside favelas of Arpoador in Rio de Janeiro"
Photo report on inhabitants of the favelas Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho in Brazil, located on two adjoining hills in southern Rio de Janeiro near at hand Arpoador (Copacabana beach and Ipanema beach).
This community of more than eleven thousand people lives both in the middle of one of the most touristic places in the world, but on the fringe of the rich residential neighborhoods around. Both worlds do not really mix each other, except on the beach where social classes are mixed.
Most of my pics were taken at the beginning of 2014, just before the Football World Cup in Brazil which starts from June 12th. But it was in 2007 that Brazil was officially designated by FIFA to host the 20th edition of its championship.
At the end of 2008, the city of Rio de Janeiro launched its program of pacification of the favelas called "UPP" (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora), in order to reduce violence and drug trafficking before the World Cup.
Sensitive and strategic area by its geographical position, the special police unit of Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho was inaugurated on December 23, 2009, it was the fifth unit of this program that will cover up 42 favelas in Rio de Janeiro in 2015.
The subject of my photo report does not deal with insecurity or drug traffickers in the favelas, but it focuses on depicting the colorful daily life of its inhabitants. However, on April 22, I witnessed a revolt by the entire community following the death of dancer Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira who was shot down by mistake during shooting battle with UPP policemen (Police Pacification Unit).
This tragic incident has had an international impact because in a matter of hours the situation has become out of control. The police unit was indeed besieged by the community that sought to avenge the innocent artist. Gunshots and uninterrupted Molotov cocktail jets were aimed at the UPP building located on the heights of Cantagalo. But the police reinforcements could not approach because the single access road was impracticable due to vehicles turned on fire and other objects burned as garbage cans, etc.
During the restless night, in chaos (no electricity, gunshots between the two camps, fires and fog smoke), the army intervened to clear the way and restore calm under eyes of cameras of the whole world.
The UPP program has been the subject of intense controversy for its real effectiveness... It is a complex issue.
After the Football World Cup, the city of Rio de Janeiro did not wish to maintain this policy of Police Pacification Unit in the favelas which is gradually dismantled. In Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho, for example, I noticed in 2017 that there was no more UPP police presence.