RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – I don’t mean to brag, but after working about fourteen hours yesterday, publishing our Online edition, having a couple wind-down beverages, then waking up with fresh eyes – the news we put together this week is pretty impressive. The timing of President Rousseff’s speech at the UN and our Nightlife Guide Editor being in Buzios did not help, but seems we did okay.
We operate with a lean-and-mean team, our reporters are all freelance and do it for the love of journalism, certainly not the pay. As each week, month and year passes, we have been lucky to get a stronger and stronger team. Not to say we don’t miss some all-stars from the past, but looking at what we did this week makes me proud.
As we publish every Tuesday night (as well as Daily Updates through the week), when major events happen on a Tuesday it makes it hard to cover. President Dilma Rousseff’s speech at the UN General Assembly in New York was a perfect example of bad timing for us.
Yet we were lucky enough to have one of our new – but experienced – reporters available in the afternoon and he pounded out a great story just in time, giving us the front page article we needed. The fact that Rousseff is standing in front of the world and chiding the U.S. and EU for hypocritical economic policy is big news for anyone betting on Brazil.
We also have important news for all those environmentalist watching the Amazon be exploited with pain in their satchels, and the Brazilian nationalist incredulous that they should be expected not to harness their natural resources. Personally I am unsure where the lines should be drawn, but I am reading 23 new hydro-electric dams (aka “clean energy”) will increase Brazil’s energy capacity by 54 percent.
Perhaps the most immediately relevant story for those living in Rio is some new statistics about the violence in the city’s favela communities. A report says the UPPs (Police Pacification Units) have reduced the rate of violent deaths by up to 78 percent – it is almost too much to believe.
On the flip-side other types of violence has increased in these favela communities where the trafficanties (drug gangs) no longer ‘police’ with an iron fist. So without the totalitarian rules, where would-be thieves and worse are too scared to draw the repercussions, the streets have become less safe in some ways.
Yet anyone who does not think that things are changing for the better in these communities are being naively subversive in my opinion. Is there still a lot of work to do? Of course. Does Rio and Brazil still need to improve the integrity of the police and stamp out corruption? Absolutely.
The fact is though, in Rocinha three years ago my friend would need to sleep on her floor once a month because police assault teams on foot and in helicopters, and drug gangs of teenagers with automatic riffles were shooting at each other all night. This was the reality, this is changing, and that is good news.