I made this post just before the police invasion on Nov 13, 2011
I have been reading a lot lately about favelas and Brazils opinion of them. Afer living here in my youth and now returning, I certainly have a diferent perspective on things. Interesting how ideas opinions change as we age. I observe more what people say and their body language.
I think I can say that the majority of those who live outside of favelas have absolutely NO IDEA of what goes on here. There only views are those that which the news spits to them each night. It is the same old prejudices, crime, drug trafic and violence. I just dont see all that exagerated stuff here, and YES I live right in the middle of it all. There are crimes here but crimes is everywhere. Rocinha has a estimated population of about 300,000 people, so of course there will be bad people too.
Yes, it is true that traficantes live here and in the open walk armed with high powered weapons, but last night while taking a walking break, I sat myself down to smoke a cigarette. Right by the entrance of the beco where I live, two dealers hopped off mototaxis and stood not more than 2 meters in front of me just standing observing things. I just sat there observing. I notice one of them was wearing expensive jewelry and had his hair dyed blonde which is very common here. The other had brown hair with the top of his head spiked with blonde highlights. Both of them were about 18-20 years old. I have not seen anyone who appears to be under 17 years old carrying a gun here. So the idea that there are 8 to 12 year olds running around here in Rocinha with guns is just plain stupid.
I am really getting to dislike people (asfaltos) who judge me negatively because I live in a favela. The prejudice is right out in the open and people will call you favelado which is a negative word if said by somebody outside the favela. Their image is that everybody who lives in a favela is stupid, dirty and a theif. I think every place has these types of people. So the word favelado is used by outsiders to describe the things I just mentioned.
For me favelado just means somebody who lives in a favela.
But I can say, I do not feel fear as I am a resident here. Now I must say, I would prefer the favela without them (drug dealers), but the reality is much different. I accept this as it is what it is. But for those Brazilians who only read papers or listen to the news, they need to visit or live in a favela to really understand how the comunity works here. There is so much more to the favela than the drugs, guns and crime.
Another thing I have noticed is that people do not complain here. They have much they could complain about, but they do not. The residents are happy and just go about their lives. I am sure they do complain becase we all do, but it is not out in the open. And you actually see people smiling here. Not like in the USA where people are spoiled and everything is fastfood I want it now, mentality. Also here people I can say good morning to them and they respond positively, unlike in the US, where people think you want something from them and turn away in fear of you. From living here, it is true, Americans overall fear each other and here in Brazil, especially the favela, I just do not see that. I really think Americans need to come to a place like Rocinha so they can appreciate how good they have it in the US. I do not have much, but I am thankful for everything I have.