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With An Eye On The 2014 World Cup, Crack Addicts Swept Out Of Rio Slum

Even though Brazil's hosting of the World Cup and Summer Olympics are two and four years away, it is apparently already "clean-up" time for at least one Rio de Janeiro slum.

Favela of Rio de Janeiro (David Berkowitz)
Favela of Rio de Janeiro (David Berkowitz)

By Luiza Souto
FOLHA DE S. PAULO/ Worldcrunch

RIO DE JANEIRO - Still several years ahead of hosting the World Cup and Summer Olympics, the "clean up" of this city's slums has apparently already begun. The Brazilian goverment launched a three-day military operation in the Santo Amaro favela of Rio de Janeiro to remove crack users, driving out of the area more than 400 non-residents between last Friday and Monday.

The Santo Amaro slum is considered the largest drug distributor for the wealthy of the Rio South Area. The government announced that Santo Amaro will be occupied by the National Public Security Force for an undetermined amount of time.

Still, many local residents doubt all the attention will last after 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. "I think this is nothing more than a make-over," says one resident, who preferred to remain anonymous. "The government can't keep this up for a long period." Another added: "As soon as the big events finish, everything will return to how it was."

The atmosphere during the round-up was tranquil. According to police officers, there was no hostility coming from the residents, who seem to have no problem with the operation. "The problem is going to be down the hill," says sergent Mata, referring to the wealthier areas below. "As these users can no longer stay here, they will try to occupy the streets." In Rio, slums are located over hills distributed along the city.

Psychologist Maura Cristina, a coordinator for the Facing Crack Project, told Folha that the goal is to take users off of the streets, and bring them to shelters maintained by the Special Protection Division. In total, Rio has 2,741 places among private and public shelters.

"We can't force adults to stay at these places, but those under 18 are going to stay in compulsory shelters," she says.

Read more from Folha in Portuguese

Photo - David Berkowitz

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Geert Wilders, The Europe Union's Biggest Problem Since Brexit

The victory of Geert Wilders' far-right party in this week's elections in the Netherlands shows that politics in Europe, at both the national and European Union level, has fundamentally failed to overcome its contradictions.

Geert Wilders, The Europe Union's Biggest Problem Since Brexit

A campaign poster of Geert Wilders, who leads the Party for Freedom (PVV) taken in the Hague, Netherlands

Pierre Haski

Updated Nov. 28, 2023 at 6:15 p.m.


PARIS — For a long time, Geert Wilders, recognizable by his peroxide hair, was an eccentric, disconcerting and yet mostly marginal figure in Dutch politics. He was known for his public outbursts against Muslims, particularly Moroccans who are prevalent in the Netherlands, which once led to a court convicting him for the collective insulting of a nationality.

Consistently ranking third or fourth in poll results, this time he emerged as the leader in Wednesday's national elections. The shock is commensurate with his success: 37 seats out of 150, twice as many as in the previous legislature.

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The recipe is the same everywhere: a robustly anti-immigration agenda that capitalizes on fears. Wilders' victory in the Netherlands reflects a prevailing trend across the continent, from Sweden to Portugal, Italy and France.

We must first see if Wilders manages to put together the coalition needed to govern. Already the first roadblock came this week with the loss of one of his top allies scouting for coalition partners from other parties: Gom van Strien, a senator in Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) was forced to resign from his role after accusations of fraud resurfaced in Dutch media.

Nonetheless, at least three lessons can be drawn from Wilders' far-right breakthrough in one of the founding countries of the European Union.

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