Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So long Rio

I'm back in Ann Arbor after a long if uneventful journey.
Its quite a contrast from Rio.
Rio de Janeiro was as I have always found it: beautiful, bustling and chaotic. For most of my time there it was raining and though the brooding skies were threatening at times, they turned out to be more bark than bite.
Rio is famous for its beaches, dramatic scenery and crime.
I've never felt threatened.
Its easy to be lulled into a sense of security.
You look at everything through 1st world eyes and for the most part the familiarity breeds a measure of complacency.
"All this talk of violent crime is overdone"
The last thought of someone about to be handed his head.
People who live in Rio live do so understanding that violent crime can happen anytime and pretty much anywhere.
Its arbitrary nature is the most frightening.
Cars are robbed at gunpoint on the highway to the airport in traffic jams.
The State Presidential Palace is attacked with AK47s.
Muggings occur in Leblon ( the city's richest residential area).
The intercontinental lobby is invaded by machine gun toting drug dealers.
I'm not saying its anything like Jo'berg where the sense of menace can be oppressive. Restaurants don't sit in compounds behind walls and electrified fences.
People live behind gates and security, but there isn't fear in walking the streets.
I'm not saying "be afraid".
I'm just saying be vigilant.
I confess I've been careless in Rio and NOTHING happened to me.
I should know better and listen to people who live there.
With that cheerful note, I bid you adieu.
I'm in Michigan until Sunday then its off to Dallas for 2 days.
Stay well everyone.

All the pictures on this post are courtesy of Lucia Falcao.


Anonymous said...

From the forest, Rio's landscape gives us a peace sensation... these blues and greens speak for themselves.
From the bus window, coming home and before read this post, i was contemplating and thinking in how wonderful is to have mountains, rivers, forest, sea just few steps far from you and how it erases all the nightmare that could be in this on a fairy tail.
Nevertheless, as all the tourists goods would say, i repeat and repeat: I LOVE RIO (!)
Lucia Falc√£o.

Anonymous said...

Trouble in paradise?

BBC News: Brazil police battle Rio de Janeiro gang violence

For three days, suspected gang members have been blocking roads, burning cars and shooting at police stations.

Military police have been deployed in 17 different slum districts.

Rio's governor says the violence is retaliation by drugs gangs who have been driven out of some areas by a police pacification programme.

More than 1,000 officers had been taken away from desk jobs to join the surge on the streets, the military police said, and 300 extra motorcycle police were on patrol.

Rio de Janeiro's state governor Sergio Cabral has also asked the central government for police reinforcements from outside Rio to keep the main highways open.

Two suspected gang member have been shot dead.

More than eight others have been arrested, including four suspects who were found with petrol bombs in the Copacabana beach neighbourhood.

Starting on Saturday night, armed men have been blocking some of the main roads leading out of Rio, robbing motorists and setting their vehicles on fire.

Roads have been blocked and cars have been torched in the violence
The authorities are convinced that the attacks are being orchestrated by drugs gangs in retaliation for being forced out of their traditional strongholds in some slum districts by police pacification units.

"Without doubt these attacks are related to the reconquest of territory and the new policy of public security in Rio de Janeiro," Mr Cabral said.

"We are not going to retreat in this policy. We are going to push forward, pacifying communities and bringing peace to the population."

Rio's police have been taking back control of poor neighbourhoods, known as favelas, that have for years been controlled by heavily armed drug trafficking gangs.

The pacification programme is aimed at improving security and the rule of law in Rio, which will host the Fifa football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.