FROM CITY OF GOD TO NOW
FROM CITY OF GOD TO NOW
Written for JESPIONNE
Alessandra Peron Marquez
Western European countries have been especially hard hurt by the current public health crisis sweeping across the globe. While my home country of France has not been hit as hard as its neighbors Italy and Spain; the virus has still placed an immense burden on the nation’s healthcare system and economy. The main question that I find myself asking is, “How will the Paris government and Macron in particular economically support the French nation during this crisis?
Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, a former socialist until forming his own centrist-populist movement, has been generally viewed as a progressive leader. During the COVID-19 crisis hopes have been high that Macron will provide economic support and stability to not only large corporations but also to the working class, small-business sector, and other potentially endangered demographics within the French work-force.
The internal workings of Rio’s famous favelas have changed very little since they were first shown to the world 18 years ago.
The well-known Favelas of Rio de Janeiro first appeared in the late 19th Century, but were brought into the spotlight worldwide with Meirelles 2002 film 'City of God'. The hard ship of living in a favela run by drug lords was sensationalized by the film, but then mostly forgotten in more recent years. The 2016 Olympic Games brought Rio back into the spotlight, and with that it would seem from their actions that the authorities perceived the favela population as compromising to the cities reputation.
Although the 'City of God' brought the reality of Rio's favelas to screens around the world, it had little impact on life within them, other than attracting more tourists. Even the actors in the film received little payment, and few had improved prospects following it. In the 18 years since the film was released there have been attempts to improve the favelas. The change of government in Brazil from a military dictatorship led to an image change
and mixed use developments, as they are both the homes and social centres for their communities. Furthermore, as favelas traditionally had little input from the authorities they created their own form of governance, with residents associations. These associations came together to provide their communities with health care, sanitation and transportation within the favelas.
Drugs continue to rule, and the police war against drugs means there is violence every day in these dwellings. The Pacifying Police Units program, which began in 2008, was largely unfruitful due to the resourcefulness of drugs traffickers in the favelas. Prime Minister Jair Bosonaro has assumed a policy of eradicating the drugs gangs in Brazil's favelas, meaning there is increased fighting within them from day to day.
Some areas of favelas have been described as a warzone, with 5-6 people killed every day as a result of the violence. The gangs are not going to be easy to 'eradicate', as their weaponry and structure led has reporters who have been among them to describe them as being more militias than gangs.
Vinicius Santiago argues in his paper 'From the Backstage of War: the struggle of Mothers in Favelas of Rio de Janeiro', that the 'war against drugs' has impacted all aspects of life in favelas. The violence is not contained within the realms of the drug traffickers and police, all members of the community are effected, in Santiago's words 'armed violence has penetrated the everyday lives of city residents to the point where they live in a state of constant fear and tension.' Whether that be that their sons are killed, their commutes disrupted by gun fire, or children put in danger at school, the tight knit communities are all in danger as the war against drugs continues.
Although now around 99% of people living in favelas have electricity and running water, living standards are far from the bright lights of Rio de Janeiro. In Brazil the richest 10% of the population account for 43.1% of national income. Despite having the largest economy in South America it is still regarded as a developing country due to the low GDP per capita, living standards and high infant mortality rate. Much of this is due to the poverty that remains in favelas.
Groups like ‘The Favela Foundation’ and ‘Project Favela’ are NGOs that are helping to improve the prospects of favela life by providing education to its children, mostly with help from international volunteers. Education will provide the next generation with skills needed to emerge from favela life, or develop and improve it. Life inside favelas are filled with fear as the fighting continues. Community groups and schools work hard to keep people safe amid the violence, if we can support them we will be closer to bringing the level of safety and security that will allow communities to develop, grow and thrive.
I am writing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and as it has highlighted inequalities across the world, the favelas of Rio are no different. Drug traffickers have been policing Favelas after they felt that Coronavirus was not being taken seriously by the authorities. Bolsonaro continues to believe the virus is of little threat. The drug traffickers have been handing out soap, putting up signs asking people to wash their hands, and have given some favelas a curfew of 8:30pm. Despite this effort, for some the level of cleanliness needed to keep the virus at bay will be impossible, with houses at the top of the favelas going without water for a number of weeks.
Two days after President Macron extended confinement until 11 May, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government had agreed to boost a 45-billion-euro fund to support the economy through the epidemic to 110 billion euros.
The measures are to be included in a revised budget bill which will have to be approved by parliament. They include eight billion euros for the healthcare system, including four billion to pay for face masks.
Healthcare staff in areas most affected by the Covid-19 epidemic are to receive a bonus of 1,500 euros as well as higher pay than usual for working extra hours. The package earmarks one billion euros for emergency aid to more than four million households, including special assistance of 150 euros per family receiving welfare benefits as well of 100 euros per child for the same families and those already on housing benefit.
Twenty-four billion euros in total for laid-off workers in the private sector, as well as seven billion for small businesses and independent workers, rounded out the measures affecting those out of work because of the lockdown.
The prime minister said the measures were based on a revised economic forecast for 2020 anticipating an 8 percent loss of gross domestic product (GDP), a deficit of 9 percent and debt of 115 percent of GDP.
.“This revised budget bill will also oblige us to revise our macro-economic forecast in a period of high uncertainty,” Philippe said after a cabinet meeting.
“Once the health crisis is under control, we must extend this plan with ambitious measures to ensure a strong and rapid renewal of the economy.”
READ MORE >>
The primary domestic obstacles will probably emerge from President Macron’s recent loss of an absolute majority in the French parliament. A number of members of Macron’s La Republique En Marche (LREM) party defected to create a new socially and environmentally driven political movement known as EDS (Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity). The loss of a parliamentarian majority will almost certainly make any actions Mr. Macron more difficult to see through to fruition. International obstacles to Mr. Macron’s economic plans will probably present themselves in the form of opposition from other EU states. President Macron has spoken out about the potential pitfalls is European Union member states do not band together to combat the current crisis and support the economies of the Union’s most vulnerable member states. Opposition from countries such as Germany and the Netherlands may hinder not only Macron’s international plans but also his domestic policies.
What can people like you and I do to support France in its efforts to bolster it’s vulnerable economy? I believe one of the main things we can do is become educated on the issue so that we can begin to have meaningful conversations. A number of French media and news outlets carry reports in English so educating yourself about this current situation is achievable and imperative. I also recommend my readers to contact the State Department and the European Union and encourage them to support Mr. Macron’s efforts to save the French economy during this pandemic. While each of us individually may only be able to make a miniscule impact, it is when we come together as a whole that change can truly be accomplished.
marchello74/Shutterstock/ City of God/ Stu Stevenson/flikr/Mario Tama/Getty Images/ Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images/ Sergio Moraes/ Reuters
Favelas/ Brazil/ Rio/ CityofGod/ Bolsonaro/ inequality/ COVID19 /police/poverty/Olympics/worldcup
September 1 st, 2020