Tuesday, June 28, 2011

History of the Brazilian Apartheid: The Favela


Favela is the Portuguese name from a shanty town. These towns form on the outskirts of Brazilian cities due to massive over population. Brazilian cities were not constructed or planned to handle the millions of people that now live there. People are forced to inhabit makeshift towns in the undesirable parts of the cities. Favelas are usually built on privately owned lands and are illegal.
Most favelas are constructed from whatever material the inhabitants can find. The houses are not sturdily built and do not offer much protection from Mother Nature. Electricity is rare and there is no running water.

Rampant crime is a part of daily life in the favelas. There is almost no police presence. Along with crime, sewage and poor sanitation plague the areas. This leads to the spreading of disease and other harmful medical conditions.
(source: http://web.utk.edu/~rkirkla1/Brazil/favelas.html)

History of the Favelas

A favela (Brazilian Portuguese for slum) is the generally used term for a shanty town in Brazil. In the late 18th century, the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighborhoods), and they were the place where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived. Over the years, many freed black slaves moved in. However, before the first settlement called “favela” came into being, poor blacks were pushed away from downtown into the far suburbs. Most modern favelas appeared in the 1970s, due to rural exodus, when many people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Without finding a place to live, many people ended up in a favela.

Some of the older favelas in Rio de Janeiro were originally started as quilombos (independent settlements of fugitive African slaves) among the hilly terrain of the area surrounding Rio, which later grew as slaves were liberated in 1888 with no places to live. It is generally agreed upon that the first favela to be called by this name was created in November 1897. At the time, 20,000 veteran soldiers were brought from the conflict against the settlers of Canudos, in the Eastern province of Bahia, to Rio de Janeiro and left with no place to live.

When they served the Army in Bahia, those soldiers had been familiar with Canudos’s Favela Hill — a name referring to favela, a skin-irritating tree in the spurge family indigenous to Bahia. When they settled in the Providência hill in Rio de Janeiro, they nicknamed the place Favela hill from their common reference, thereby calling a slum a favela for the first time.

The favelas were formed prior to the dense occupation of cities and the domination of real estate interests. The housing crisis of the 1940s forced the urban poor to erect hundreds of shantytowns in the suburbs, when favelas replaced tenements as the main type of residence for destitute cariocas (residents of Rio). The explosive era of favela growth dates from the 1940s, when Getúlio Vargas’s industrialization drive pulled hundreds of thousands of migrants into the Federal District, until 1970, when shantytowns expanded beyond urban Rio.

Raw sewage drains through the streets

Most of the current favelas began in the 1970s, as a construction boom in the richer neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro initiated a rural exodus of workers from poorer states in Brazil. Heavy flooding in the low-lying slum areas of Rio also forcibly removed a large population into favelas, which are mostly located on Rio’s various hillsides. Since favelas have been created under different terms but with similar end results, the term favela has become generally interchangeable with any impoverished area. Favelas are built around the edge of the main city so in a way they are actually expanding the city. (source: Brazil Geeks)

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