An opinion piece in the New York Times today argues that the Rio plans to vacate through illegal evictions a large portion of the city’s poorest living in favelas in preparation for the Olympics to be held there in 2016:
Last month, Unesco awarded World Heritage Site status to a substantial portion of the city, an area that includes some of its hillside favelas, where more than 1.4 million of the city’s 6 million residents live. No favela can claim greater historical importance than Rio’s first — Morro da Providência — yet Olympic construction projects are threatening its future.
The author of the article, Theresa Williamson, maintains that it would be “more cost-effective to invest in urban improvements that communities help shape through a participatory democratic process.” Rio is not the only city that would prefer to eradicate the messy bits of its city. Cities that are under pressure from a massive influx of global investment – and attention – begin to feel they must look like a shopping mall in New York City or Cannes.