Why it is safe to spend the holidays in a favela…
Also check out CNN´s 2009 Blog and photos of Pousada Favelinha and the security situation!
Although our website has not been online for a long time, we have already received quite a few e-mails asking questions about the “security” at our place. In Europe and America it can often be read in the newspapers that Rio de Janeira and especialy the favelas there are “dangerous”. And it is true that you should rather not walk around many of Rio´s favelas if you are obviously a “gringo”.
Then why do we invest in such a project in a favela and why do we think that our guests will feel good in our hostel?
Because the “Favela Pereira da Silva” is not just any favela!!!
Of course this favela has also had its share of “bad days”. But fortunately, these days have gone since 1999.
Until the spring of 1999, the Pereira da Silva was just like any other favela in Rio. There was a “boca de fumo”, the drug dealer´s selling spot, and there were fights with the police nearly every day.
Life was pretty much like it was diplayed in the very authentic movie “Cidade de Deus – City of God”. If you talk to some of the older residents of the favela, you can still hear and learn a lot about the days before 1999…
BUT: In 1999 there was one big “blow” by the police who killed or caught all of the favela´s drug dealers (traficantes) in a single day. Afterwards, the polcie occupied the whole hill (“morro”). Until 2003 there was a regular police post at the foot and at the top of the favela with around 20 officers present all the time. Now only one police post remains at the top of the hill, but life in the favela has still remained calm. There is also a BOPE (a special forces police post) in walking distance of the favela.
We have had more than 300 people from Europe, America, Asia, and other parts of Latin America stay with us since we opened the pousada in January 2005. They have all confirmed to feel very safe indeed!!
But will it stay this way? Of course no one can guarantee that, but it would be quite stupid of us to invest so much into this project if we were not absolutely sure of it. Directly at the bottom of the favela, at the end of the dead end street, a French college has been operating for quite some while. Right next to it is another dead end street leading to a noble neighbourhood including a residence of the current governor of Rio de Janeiro “Rosinha”. And at the upper end of the favela the huge “Colegio Asuncao”, a religious college, is situated. The upper entrance of the favela is actually THROUGH this college.
All of this is probaly also a good reason why the police has selected this place for one of their first big actions against drug dealers in Rio. It is very much in the interest of all the neighbours – and the residents of the favela themselves – that it will remain this way!
One advantage is that the Pereira da Silva is very small (only about 200 to 3000 inhabitants, as compared to up to 120,000 in “Rocinha”, the biggest favela). There are only two entrances to the favela, one at the bottom and one at the top, which can be very easily controlled. Even the drug dealers of other surrounding favelas have expressed their interest that drug dealing will not return to THIS favela – because as the police would certainly march in again, this would also have an effect on the other favelas in the neighbourhood. Therefor the “traficantes” themselves take care as well, that no crimes will take place in the Pereira da Silva. Any resident of the favela who threatens one of “our” tourists would have a problem not only with the police but also with the traficantes from the other favelas – which are certainly respected much more than the police 😉
Andreia´s family has lived in the favela for a very long time and knows almost everybody. Also, Andreia has had extensive talks with the residents and the “Assosiacao dos Moradores” before construction began, to ensure that nothing would ever happen to our guests.
The Pereira da Silva has been in the news before with the project “TV Morrinho”, a social program which helps a large group of teenagers from the favela by teaching them to administrate and film a project of building a miniature favela inside the favela. See our links page for further details! Many tourist have come in the last years to visit this exhibition, which is only a two-minute walk away from our pousada.
The Favela Pereira da Silva can rightfully be called an example of how an “outlawed” favela community can be re-socialized very well and integrated into the society. It was also one of the first favelas to profit from the project “Favela Bairro” which took care of a better canalization, waste disposal, and integration into the neighboring communities…
Of course each person should decide for themselves if he or she would like to live in a favela. But this is the only way to experience the easy-going life style of over 20% of Rio´s population. And: There is no other place in Rio where you can live so central, yet with such a great view and without the noise of any cars or machines.
We are also convinced that it is probably safer to stay in this favela than to stay at any of the posh hotels at the Copacabana or at one of the backpacker hotels in Catete, which is only short walk from our favela…
P.S.: Of course we also have a big fence around our compound and windows and doors can be locked separately. We also have a guard on duty 24 hours. You can really feel safe here 😉