August 22, 2016—We woke up today with various public authorities and government representatives here at the favela entrance, something similar to what happened back in November 2010. There is an invasion of reporters and people from various parts of the world. Due to the coverage of the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, Rio is full of them. But there is a difference between 2010 and today. Many cars from various government departments are present. Each favela entrance has a specific secretariat. At the entrance of Grota, the Public Works Secretariat. At the entrance of Reservatório is the Leisure and Culture Secretariat. In Nova Brasília is the Education Secretariat. And in Austregésilo, the staff from the Housing Secretariat, the Civil Office, the Social Development Secretariat, the water utility CEDAE, and many reporters—all are ready to go up the favela and begin the “retaking of the favela.”
Going down Itaoca Avenue, I can see from the entrance of Beira do Rio many cars from the waste utility, COMLURB, cleaning the surroundings of the open sewer, and saying that from now on all this area will be covered and will be a big leisure area, similar to the famous Madureira Park. Walking further ahead, at the entrance of Canitar Street I see many other secretariats. The one that strikes me most is the Environment Secretariat, announcing that starting today we will have a serious policy of revitalization and care of the Serra da Misericórdia. We are very happy because we know the importance of what we call “the lungs of the North Zone.”
In the skies above the favela, several helicopters are flying overhead with journalists covering this remarkable day for the country. One of them draws my attention: it drops small leaflets informing us of what is happening on this day—an integrated action between all spheres of State and municipal powers and also those “mega NGOs” that have done an exceptional job restructuring the favelas through all these years of change. The pamphlets state only this simple phrase: “TODAY THE PUBLIC AUTHORITIES ARE COMING INTO YOUR FAVELA. HELP US BY SHARING YOUR OPINIONS AND MAKING SUGGESTIONS ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO TO IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNITY.”
The governor came to the public this morning and, calling a press conference, announced an emergency provision to construct five new school units, all full-time and two of them with vocational training.
The Secretary of Transportation then made an announcement of extreme importance to the favela, saying that as of today, all the vans that circulate here will be integrated with the cable car system. Residents will be able to use the Single Ticket (bilhete único) in both as well as for the mototaxis taking residents to the cable car, making it a truly useful means of transport for all residents. According to the Secretary, this will already be implemented starting tomorrow. Everyone is looking forward to this announcement…
The Parks and Gardens Secretariat also made its announcement this morning, calling for an emergency hiring of residents to revitalize all abandoned areas of the favela: squares, soccer fields, gardens, and slopes that will come to life and be taken care of by the residents of the surrounding area, who will moreover be earning an income for it.
The Science and Technology Secretariat was also engaged. In a loud and clear tone the Secretary took the microphone and said: “Two more Knowledge Ships will be built here. Let’s define the locations but we have funding. We know the importance of these centers here and that is why we realized we need two more, so you can look forward to them.”
One of the things that brought a little hope and lit the light at the end of the tunnel was the publication last week of studies by the Pereira Passos Institute (IPP) reworking all the numbers that have been manipulated and hidden for years. This was one of the most awaited announcements as we have full knowledge that official figures can change all the announced actions. These numbers are the basis of everything, towards the true implementation of public policies we so long for. These are numbers that summarize the map of the real situation in our place. Now with that done we can be sure that something truly concrete will be accomplished without delays.
I started asking myself the reason for all this: several questions about why the public authorities have made these decisions. Then the evening news gave the answer: the positive results of the Olympic Games here in Rio, and the final balance that impressed the world with the “ORGANIZATION” provided by Brazil, left the Brazilian government with an inflated ego. This has resonated well with the electoral landscape and has become one of the reasons for all this uproar. After all, it is also a year of running for the top position of the Olympic city, the elections for the City government of Rio.
The circulation of this information by the press caused a rush to newsrooms to report all these facts. Tonight, everyone wanted to be the one to break this news. Something very unusual and much awaited by all the good citizens of this immense city became a reason for celebration in alleys and side streets, gradually extending to the streets near the favela. It reached various neighborhoods and infected the whole city. Then an out-of-season carnival was announced and the whole city went out to celebrate what is happening here in Alemão. All these public announcements of improvements have left us in a state of total ecstasy, in a frenzy with no end in sight… THIS DAY WILL GO DOWN IN THE HISTORY OF THIS CITY, ONE DAY AFTER THE END OF THE 2016 OLYMPICS HERE IN RIO.
Cleber Santos, a resident of Alemão, had this “premonition” and said that he was “in full possession of his mental faculties” when he had this hallucination…