By Andrew Willis, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A further indication of the security improvements in the city of Rio this year is that many residents and tourists opted to celebrate the New Year festivities in the city’s ‘pacified’ favela communities instead of Copacabana Beach. Four years after the Police Pacification Unit (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, or UPP) program started, many hillside favelas are safe enough to enjoy amazing views of the fireworks show.

Revelers watch the Copacabana Beach fireworks from Pavão-Pavãozinho/Cantagalo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Revelers watch the Copacabana Beach fireworks from Pavão-Pavãozinho/Cantagalo in 2011, photo by Isabela Kassow/Último Segundo.

For big spenders, resident Azelina Viana dos Santos offered a R$1,000-a-head reception at the top of the Pavão-Pavãozinho favela community, with champagne, whiskey, paella carioca and oxtail rigatoni among the fare on offer.

Located behind Copacabana, with excellent views over the beach, Pavão-Pavãozinho was pacified in December 2009 and is one of several communities to see an uptick in business since then, according to a recent report.

In next favela over, which sits behind Ipanema, Cantegalo was also pacified in December 2009, and offered a similar option including a menu of churrasco and caipirinhas was available for R$250. The organizer of the two events, Daniel Plá, says all the profits will be put towards further improvements inside the communities.

“The proceeds of the festival go to the residents of Cantagalo and Pavao-Pavãozinho. The party begins with a tour of the favela. For the first time in four years, we will have more Brazilians than gringos,” Plá told the O Globo newspaper.

The view of Copacabana Beach from the UPP pacified Pavao-Pavãozinho favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The view of Copacabana Beach from Pavao-Pavãozinho, photo internet recreation from BrazilComZ.

Behind the beach in Leme, the Favela Inn offered an evening atop the Chapéu Mangueira hillside favela. Guests were offered a traditional dinner menu, plus breakfast the following morning for R$200.

Chapéu Mangueira and the neighboring favela of Babilonia were pacified in June 2009, and like others of communities with resident police units, have experienced an influx of new residents and a corresponding rise in property prices since then.

In the Complexo do Alemao in the Zona Norte (North Zone), many residents opted to watch the fireworks from the cable car stations that sit atop several hills in the complex, including the Morro do Adeus.

Despite being pacified in late 2010, the area has continued to witness outbreaks of violence, including a recent shootout between police and drug traffickers in the Nova Brasília favela. Two suspects were killed during the exchange of fire in December and later one police officer from a Police Pacifying Unit (UPP).

Yet residents are optimistic, “Christmas was relaxed, several parties took place without any conflict. It’s the first year with the UPP. Expectations are high,” said Rene, creator of the web portal Voz das Comunidades (Voice of Communities), a site with news on favelas.

“Before the works under the Accelerated Growth Program (PAC) took place, it was difficult to climb up the Morro do Adeus. There wasn’t any access. Now there is a road which leads to an area with a great view.”

December marked the fourth anniversary of Rio de Janeiro’s inaugural UPP in the Santa Marta favela, with police units being a key part of the state government’s pacification program, followed with much anticipation by the UPP Social.


  1. Is the writing on the wall? Now,how soon will developers move in to build luxury apartments and move the current residents out? I’m not saying that these communities should not have been made safe for the residents, but now that the are, I’m afraid that with tremendous views of the sea below, access to anyone that wants to go, and prices already rising, it should not be long before these modest hillside communities turn into luxury villas and all that accompanies it, pricing the curent residents out. Its called gentrification here in the U.S. Agree or disagree?

  2. In response to Richard:
    If residents are ever illegally evicted due to gentrification, that clearly would be unacceptable. However, as far as I know, the moradores are all – technically speaking – squatters, ie they have not legally purchased the land. In fact, in most cases, if I understand correctly, it is not possible to legally acquire or build on land which is designated as Mata Atlântica, or área de risco. In reality, nobody should be living on the morros, neither rich nor poor. Let nature return.
    If the moradores have an issue with this, let them present evidence of having paid IPTU for their period of residence.

  3. Anon is correct. People living in hillside Favelas generally don’t pay for electricity, water or taxes. Plus they haven’t gained that much in quality of life just because things are now safeR. There is A LOT of poverty in every favela, and in many of them (even in pacified ones) there are still drug traffickers, though they may not be doing their thing “in the open” anymore.


    — They misspelled “Cantagalo” on paragraph 4, and saying that the favelas sit “behing” Copacabana or Ipanema is a mistake. Those favelas are part of the neighborhoods. Chapéu Mangueira & Babilônia are IN Leme, Pavão-Pavaozinho is IN Copacabana and Cantagalo is IN Ipanema.

  4. Thanks Magno Lima – you understand the issues.

    One tiny disagreement though: Pavão-Pavaozinho is atop the morro overlooking Praça General Osório, while Cantagalo is on the Copacabana side.

    Since the pacificação, property prices at the formerly arse-end of Barão da Torre have rocketed.

  5. You’re right, I got the names wrong. I just looked up both Favelas on Googlemaps, and Cantagalo is indeed on the Copacabana side, whereas Morro do Pavão is in Ipanema. LOL

    Each favela is part of its neighborhood. Earlier this week I was in Copacabana for the NYE, and while I was at the beach, whenever I looked at the buidings/hotels I would spot the “morro” behind them.

  6. There is s long way to go in those favelas, but of you think about it, it is actually good/great today. Why? It is great for stimilus packages that are needed ( it is only good/great when it goes to productive and long turn activities in society) and create jobs for the local people. Only the locals can solve their problems effectivly but with some help from their local government . The locals are the private sector who understand their problems and solution better.


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