One Year After the Olympics: What Remains in Rio and in Complexo do Alemão? [OPINION]

A Year Since the Games

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What moves afflicted hearts in these days of chaos and insecurity?

In the present day, the constant fear and state of panic that everyone lives in is perceptible. A single step forward is a challenge. Staying alive is an act of grace. Because each day, it is more and more difficult to live in this city of fear, this city that has buried itself in institutionalized corruption sponsored by governing authorities that only thought of stealing from the people, in an improper and shameless manner, what remained.

The way I see everything from the favela’s hilltop here makes the facts clearer to me. The unfolding of this macabre story woven into a plot by those who idealized it, from their air-conditioned cabinets, where they devised and orchestrated the most diverse ways of profiting from the big construction works that the state marketed for the mega-events that came and went. They thought of the smallest details, and we are suffering today with all of this, enduring the harshest penalties, the involuntary condemnation caused by individuals who, in a cowardly way, took the hope and dreams of millions of people. Public servants starving, security in collapse, state coffers plundered, hospitals being closed and doctors dismissed, schools without classes and growing numbers of teenagers and children forced to live without a future, among other atrocities we are witnessing, and feeling, first-hand.

We are being exterminated in a senseless manner, cowardly attacks, caused by the incompetence and mismanagement of politicians who chose to divert sacred resources that should have become Rio’s ‘legacy’. What we were left with after the events was only pain, death, and despair. Everything we are suffering today was predicted ahead of time with an ominous prognosis. We already knew that it would be like this, and all those involved also knew. Even so, they pursued their plan of stealing from public coffers in favor of the big corporations that profited and left Brazil with their pockets full of money. The favelas were most attacked by this chaos. We lost much with all of this. One example here in Complexo do Alemão was the closing of the Palmeiras Family Clinic, and the abandonment and closure of cable car stations, which caused massive disturbance in the mobility of thousands of residents who used the cable cars as a mode of transportation. And the cessation of the activities of Alemão’s Park Library. Not to mention the unbounded increase in daily shootings, causing a frightening panic! Shot and dead people is the balance left behind from the insanity that was bringing the mega-events to Rio.

Without the international media spotlight that was here to cover the mega-events, the curtain has come down, and with it, abuses have intensified with various human rights violations becoming increasingly intense. The diversion of funds originally destined to housing demands made it so that housing needs were not met. The completion of the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC) works was abandoned, and so, thousands more were directly hurt.

It is very sad to connect the golden period prior to the mega-events with the present day. Before, there was a drop of hope, tourists, a feeling of safety–false, but it was there. And today, there is not a speck of light at the end of the tunnel.

In the period when we dreamt of improvements, there was a bliss, a frenzy of many inhabitants equipping themselves to work with tourism, seeking training through the Sebrae (Brazilian Service in Support of Micro and Small Businesses), which made innumerable residents believe it would be worth the effort to become micro-entrepreneurs. How wrong we were. How many young people dreamed of becoming performing artists, or musicians, or enrolling in university and temporarily leaving the conditions in which they found themselves? I witnessed many motivated adolescents searching for schools and courses in order to join the Young Apprentice (Jovem Aprendiz) program. And, in the end, all these dreams were taken in a cowardly way, because these projects were impeded from continuing, due to a lack of funds as well as violence.

Today I cry with those who, like me, believed that we would have continuity here, people who opened an inn, a hostel, improved their bakery, their local markets, and even their homes. Today they are forced to see their enterprises devalued and with no future. Looking at the cables and not seeing the cable cars circulate. To walk in fear in our alleys is a very sad thing.

World Youth Day, the World Cup, the Olympics passed and what remains? A trail of debts and incomplete works. Overpriced works that were completed are today abandoned. Rio did not deserve this. This state is rich and beautiful. It did not deserve to be plundered by the gang that continues to govern with a ‘light’ hand the destinies of millions of people.

Concluding, I vent and lament here, from the favela’s peak, where I said–a long time ago to numerous media outlets–that when these events were over, Rio would plunge into total chaos. And everything I said is being fulfilled, including in a text in Portuguese on this same website, titled One Day after the End of the 2016 Olympics here in Rio… in which I ironically portrayed what it would be like if those in power were inclined to real change. And I see that today, a year after the end of the Olympic Games, nothing I discussed in that text has happened. Even worse, it is worse than before.

Today’s legacy is death on expressways, more shootings in favelas, fear and uncertainty of how tomorrow will be.

We cannot bear this any more!

Cleber Araujo is a resident of Complexo do Alemão, where, through social media, he shows the favela in its most diverse forms and moments.