Are Rio’s Slums The City’s Trendiest Areas?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Blessed with stunning views and located in what seems like worlds apart from the overcrowded, tourist-friendly sections of the city, Rio’s slums or “favelas” may soon become the city’s trendiest destination. Favelas like Vidigal, which overlooks Ipanema Beach and the Cagarras Islands (and was the filming locale for “City of God“) are being eyed for development for trendy hotels, such as this 10 villa luxury develoment by a German financier.

Of course this brings up the sticky question of whether this type of development (and the related slum tours that can be had all over the world from India to South Africa) are insightful or simply exploitative. Probably a little of both. Wouldn’t you best serve the favelas and slums by engaging the people who live there and developing the neighborhood for everyone, not just wealthy tourists?  At the other end, maybe it’s this kind of business development that will help lift people out of poverty (but at what cost?). I have no idea. I don’t have a good answer for this one. Maybe a little of both? How about that for hedging my answer? Maybe I should go into politics.

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