RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As usual the idea of another year having come and gone so quickly is hard to believe. We are looking forward to 2013 though, and everything that comes with it for the city of Rio de Janeiro.
First off is Carnival, the way we kick off a new year in the Cidade Maravilhosa which is on February 9-12th this year. Carnival really begins much sooner though, with all the blocos (street parties) that overrun the city starting… as soon as we recover from the New Year’s parties.
Then we also have the FIFA Confederations Cup (June 15-30th) being hosted throughout Brazil as a warm-up to the 2014 World Cup. The year of 2013 will also see Rio host the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (July 23-28th).
The Maracanã Stadium, perhaps Brazil’s most famous shrine to the “beautiful game” – football (soccer) – is due to re-open in the first quarter of 2013. The stadium was closed in mid-2010 to revamp for FIFA regulations, and almost R$1 billion later, it is expected to reopen in February.
The efforts to improve Rio’s transportation infrastructure are happening all around us. In Zona Sul (South Zone) they are building the Line 4 Metro connecting Ipanema, Leblon – ultimately to reach Barra da Tijuca in time for the 2016 Olypmic Games.
In the short-term, 2013 will see the General Osório Metro station (the last stop of Line 1) in Ipanema, and the Copacabana Cantagalo Metro station, closed for eight months for construction – to connect to the new Line 4. This means the Siqueira Campos station in Copacabana is the last Metro stop in Zona Sul.
In Centro even larger programs are revitalizing the area, especially the Porto Maravilha Project overhauling the port zone. The Praça Mauá is getting a make-over and the favela community of Morro da Providência is having a new gondola put in place this month.
Perhaps even more significant then the transportation and mega-events, is the improvement of security in Rio’s favela communities with the Police Pacification Unit (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, or UPP) program.
December marked the fourth anniversary of the first ever UPP, in the Santa Marta favela (also known as Dona Marta), and also saw Colonel Paulo Henrique Azevedo named as the new head of the pacification program.
Azevedo’s first announcement for 2013 are plans to decentralize the power of the existing 28 UPPs by opening eight regional coordination offices that will provide local leadership for each different community.
It is hard to overstate the effect of the UPP program on the city and the favela communities. Studies show businesses growing and gun violence reduced by large percentages.
There is still a lot to improve though, especially in Zona Norte (North Zone) where areas like Complexo do Alemão continue to struggle with violence. The other area of concern for the greater metropolitan area is that a lot of crime has relocated to outlying cities like Niterói.
Looking forward at 2013 in Rio though, we see more growing pains, but a lot more remarkable progress for the Cidade Maravilhosa.