Favelas in Brazil
Brazil celebrates Favela Day in early November
Favelas are a very important part of Brazilian culture. Brazilian favelas are high-density housing estates. They are often referred to as slums. They are part of towns and consist of houses built informally. Often the land on which these dwellings are built is unsuitable for construction, hence the high risk of collapse. These districts are located far away from the city centre, and the most needy people live there.
The name “favela” refers to the Morro da Favela hill where this kind of mass development began. The hill, in turn, was named after the favela oil plant of the same name that grew on its slopes.
Timofey Bashlykov, PhD in Sociology, Associate Professor of the Department of Management and General Humanitarian Disciplines at the Lipetsk branch of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, says that favelas are disadvantaged and uncontrolled areas of cities where low-income people live.
“They are characterised by spontaneous development and poor communal and social infrastructure. People living in favelas often face problems caused by poverty, illegal drug trafficking and crime. Visiting favelas in Brazil can be unsafe. For example, during the 2016 Olympics, all visitors were advised not to visit favelas,” he said.
Timofey Bashlykov noted that some tour companies conduct tours of favelas to introduce clients to the real life and culture of the inhabitants of these places. It is important to choose a reliable guide and to follow safety precautions during your visit.
Bronislav Dolgopyat and Anna Lavlinskaya, Russian-speaking guides in Brazil, believe that there are many stereotypes associated with favelas in Brazil.
“In fact, favelas are mostly populated by labourers and even public service employees. Many earn between 2,000 and 3,000 reais, which is equivalent to about 400-600 euros. There are hardly any wooden houses here now – almost all the houses are brick, with electricity and water. And criminals and bandits make up 2 per cent of the total population of the favelas,” they said.
Bronislav has lived in the favela for five years and notes that it is a very important part of Brazilian culture. “For example, this is where samba originated, and today these are the neighbourhoods where the most famous carnival schools are located. You need a guide to get here, as it will be difficult without native speakers. But there are tourists who dare to visit favelas alone,” he said.
The first written mention of the favelas is dated 4 November 1900 in a police report. The military demanded flats from the Brazilian government in exchange for a promise to quell an insurgency in a state. The government did not meet their demands and they began to settle on the mountain near the Ministry of Defence.
Not so long ago, 4 November was officially recognised as Favela Day.