Olympic Preparations Pose Threat to Rio's Cultural History

As the world turned its attention Sunday from London to Rio, host of the next Summer Olympics, Theresa Williamson and Mauricio Hora penned an op-ed for The New York Times arguing how the city's preparations are threatening its history.

Rio's first hillside favela - Morro da Providência - more than a century old and "one of the most important cultural sites in Afro-Brazilian history", was recognized recently with inclusion, alongside a substantial portion of the city, on Unesco's list of World Heritage Sites. However, according to Williamson and Hora, city officials are failing to recognize the site's historical importance in their Olympic construction plans, as "almost a third of the community is to be razed, a move that will inevitably destabilize what's left of it." 

"Although the city claims that investments will benefit residents, 30 percent of the community's population has already been marked for removal and the only 'public meetings' held were to warn residents of their fate."

"If Rio succeeds in disfiguring and dismantling its most historic favela," Williamson and Hora argue, "the path will be open to further destruction throughout the city's hundreds of others."

"The economic, social and psychological impacts of evictions are dire: families moved into isolated units where they lose access to the enormous economic and social benefits of community cooperation, proximity to work and existing social networks - not to mention generations' worth of investments made in their homes."

 

Full Story: In the Name of the Future, Rio Is Destroying Its Past

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