Sunday, September 19, 2010

Linha Vermelha: Blocking out reality?

Anyone who has driven to the Rio de Janeiro International airport somewhat recently will have noticed the walls erected on the sides of Linha Vermelha. 

It´s an interesting idea.  The first reason for them, that comes to mind, is to "beautify" the area for all the visitors to the city.

Now, I see that as ridiculous. Let´s hide the poor.  What a very 1st world concept.  I know, that is very negative of me to say but take a minute and see where I am coming from. 

Imagine you are a child who lives there.  Mommy, why are they putting up walls?  It is practical as it lessens the chance of anyone running across the busy street. Sadly, many people get hurt that way down here. 

But let´s be honest, I doubt the government is spending money on keeping people from j walking, regardless of it being a good idea.

Sadly, I believe it´s to hide the "unattractive" aspect of Rio de Janeiro. We wouldn´t want to scare our tourists would we?  Especially since the World Cup and Olympics are coming. We must, at all costs, change the image of Rio.

So great, paint over rotting walls with new paint. That´ll fix the problem.  And what are you telling the people behind the wall?  The people who already feel all but forgotten by the people in charge down here.

I feel that it´s smoke and mirrors and I am unreasonably upset by this.  Unreasonably because I do not live in the community and am not directly affected by the walls.  Plus, I´m not even from here.  I always feel a bit out of place complaining about things here that have been going on for longer than I´ve been born and then some.
It´s just, I feel the money could be used differently. Put it into public education. Build more public school and fund them well so the child of these communities will have more options in the future. Hell, make the public Universities bigger and put in affirmative action programs to make sure the poor get the slots they deserve to get, that being over the rich students who have the money to hire private tutors/courses to get the precious free spots in the good pubic universities. 

Will this solution help for the games? Not really. It´s one of those long going ones that take time.  In the mean time, give offer free English courses and tourism classes so that people have the opportunity to work with the organizations that put on both games.  Give all organizations a break for hiring locals.

Basically, there are things to do other than just throwing up a wall. Will they take more time, money, and effort? Sure.  But they´ll be better in the long run. 

That is a problem I see down here, the lack of vision in the long run...


  1. Rachel,

    I see your point, but I think this wall is a much more practical issue than anything. I remember in the 90's when folks from the slums would burn sofas and tires on that same road and block the way between the Airport and the city, many children and pets are killed and injured all the time on that road.
    Bad guys take advantage of the proximity to the slums to car jack people during traffic jams and hide in the nearby slums when the police comes by.
    The first thing that comes to mind is "hiding the dirt under the rug", but there are many advantages to building these walls and I think it will protect the local residents more than anything.
    In the US, communities near highways demand the construction of these types of walls to protect them from noise polution and other road side nuisance.
    why not think of these walls protecting those communities rather than hiding them?



  2. Rachael,

    In this day and age, long term thinking is not a political aim anywhere in the world, as far as it gets is to the next election. Stuff like this should not be the remit of mansion living politicians but community memebers but that would be too democratic...


  3. I feel ya Ray, and I love your optimism. But if that were really the reasoning behind it, wouldn´t they be putting these walls up on all major highways in Rio?

  4. Good point!
    May be they should...


  5. I get the same viceral reaction to the walls, but I agree that there are issues of safety for drivers that have been demonstrated over time. Walls are certainly not the long term solution, but I think they are more than just a blindfold.

  6. Maybe it would be better to do something about the smell along that stretch of highway...or is that what the giant concrete finger is for (anyone know what I`m talking about?)?
    Or, maybe it`s a giant concrete MIDDLE finger, something along the lines of "we're spending millions on this thing, as a big FU to all of you on the on the other side of the water..."