The future connection to Niteroi – 1929

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The future connection to Niteroi
Revista da Semana – May 1929

The future connection to the neighboring capital has long been debated and defended in our press. In reality a direct communication to the city of Niterói would bring all kinds of advantages to the two capitals, in addition to the direct connection with the State of Rio.

The suggestions put forward for this enterprise by our most distinguished engineers have been several. Mr. Carlos Sampaio is in favor of the idea of the submarine tunnel, as it already exists in several American and European cities, with the most modern being the Holland Tunnel, between New York City and New Jersey. Others, like Mr. A. Graça, defend the idea of a bridge formed by successive arcs or else a suspension bridge, similar to those that the Yankees have executed in the United States. On this last hypothesis, the distinguished engineer-geologist Mr. Alfredo Diniz has just presented the results of his studies, predicting the possibility of such an undertaking.

This solution has the enormous advantage of neglecting obstructions (?) that would impede the free movement of our port. But who was it who devised the first bridge and which was the first one to be built? That’s the question that’s often asked.

Responding is difficult.

As is well known, the evolution of bridges has been very interesting. Everything leads us to believe that what inspired the first bridge was certainly the need that primitive man had to cross or transpose a ravine or a stream. From there, they have been disseminating and evolving.

Small bridges were succeeded by other more daring ones, either in arches or pillars, and later, even nowadays, large spaces have been overcome or reached by stupendous works, such as the Forth Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge and ultimately the Delaware Bridge. The earliest of the latter type of the coming together of two banks is presumed to have been built in the year 65, in Yunnan Province, China, by order of the emperor Ming, and had the approximate length of 100 meters. Nowadays, metal bridges are often used, and James Finley should be considered as the true inventor of modern bridges, which are undoubtedly one of the greatest monuments of engineering.

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These bridges, considered by many an American invention, have had a huge development in the United States, and are currently under construction on the Hudson, linking New York with New Jersey, a suspension bridge that, by its proportions, is considered the largest that has been planned.

They are surprisingly haughty and graceful and have the great advantage of not being destructive and, on the contrary, favoring the most beautiful perspectives of nature, as is the case for our Rio de Janeiro.

Also associated with this are the great constructive advantages over other types of bridges formed by a series of arcs. The engravings we present represent one of the suggestions made by notable architects Cortez & Bruhns, in their debated and remarkable plan for remodeling the capital, for the future connection to the neighboring capital.

From a perspective, one will see the majesty of this gigantic work, which would have, pillar the pillar, the length of 1 kilometer, having on the bay, in its central part, the height of 60 meters, in order to give passage to all types of transatlantic vessels or warships. This bridge would be endowed with two levels, the upper one destined to vehicles and pedestrians, and the lower one reserved only for electric transport; would overcome the distance between Ponte do Aterro and the one in Gragoatá, at a distance of approximately 2 kilometers, suspended in two huge arc-pillars, which should have a height never less than 200 meters.

How dazzling would it not be to enjoy the amazing panoramas of Guanabara and the incomparable cut of the Serra dos Orgões from the top of these arches!

Let us therefore make every wish for the rapid solution of this enterprise, for the century in which we live – the time of the most audacious conceptions – has given us the opportunity to verify the solution for problems that would have been considered true utopias years ago.

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Architects propose solutions for Rio

Architects make proposals to improve Cariocas’ lives through urban interventions – O Globo

Did you know that going on an outing between São Cristóvão and Santa Cruz can say more about the history of the Empire than any other area? All these ideas are in the heads of the architects that O Globo invited to propose projects capable of creating scenarios and solutions that would make Cariocas’ lives more functional, intelligent and even more enchanting, if that’s possible.

From the drawing boards, suggestions appeared that could promote true revolutions, from the Zona Sul to the Zona Norte. Among them are proposals to pump new energy into the Port Region – which is currently undergoing a crisis, but is considered one of the most important urban interventions in recent history, ever since the Pereira Passos reform in the early 20th century. Or an ambitious and inspired plan to reclaim the nobility of the Caminho Imperial, with the urban transformation of a 60 kilometer stretch, from the former residence of the Royal Family, where the National Museum in Quinta da Boa Vista stands today (?), to the Fazenda Real de Santa Cruz, transformed into an Army post.

And there was no lack of daring. For our dreamers, it’s also worth persisting with what didn’t work. This is the case, for example, for the project to replace the Tim Maia Bike Lane, which collapsed in 2016, with another that would guarantee the kind of safety required by the landscape.

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The Dream of Making Martin Luther King Greener

Architect Washington Fajardo has a dream: to see the revitalization of one of the main roads of the Zona Norte – Avenida Pastor Martin Luther King Jr, previously Avenida Automóvel Club. There are 13 kilometers that pass through 11 neighborhoods, from Del Castilho to Pavuna. It’s a journey with bumpy roads, surrounded by slums, and abandoned. In his opinion, the route is very important for the city, it has a good number of stores and subway stations, but there are several idle and underutilized areas that surround it.

“It’s chaotic, disorganized, with no urban amenities, no places to meet people, relax, stroll, or play sports.” An absurd urban waste. We could install a Green Line there, as originally conceived in the Doxiadis Plan (made by Greek urbanist Constantino Doxiadis and commissioned by Carlos Lacerda in the 1960s), with an emphasis on urban afforestation, says Fajardo.

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A Royal Road that Connects the Past and Future

To think about the future, the city must not neglect the past. For this reason, architect Rodrigo Bertamé, a member of Rio’s Council of Architecture and Urbanism, proposes the recovery of the Caminho Imperial. Marked with granite blocks, it was the route taken by the Imperial Family, from their residence in São Cristóvão (presently the National Museum, at Quinta da Boa Vista) to the Fazenda Real de Santa Cruz (now an Army post).

“This road currently passes through many city streets and has very little signage. There are only three colonial landmarks remaining. I suggest a revitalization, having as a premise a mobility system that shows an appreciation for bike paths and public transport, and an urban treaty that encourages and values buildings”, said Bertamé.

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More Life for the Renewed Port Region

The aim of a major revitalization project, with the removal of the Elevado da Perimetral, the design of a new waterfront and the inauguration of museums and an aquarium, the Port Zone changed its appearance and became popular with tourists and locals. In the evaluation of Luiz Fernando Janot, however, life is missing at the port. Therefore, it’s necessary to create a program to encourage the occupation of houses and other residential buildings in the region, so that there’s movement, even on weekends.

“I would create an urban plan, reviewing what was done, because there was an economic plan, which overlapped other aspects. That’s why it’s like this now, empty. We have to rethink this, doing a project with housing and commercial occupations in mind, giving support to office buildings”, he says.

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To Not Miss the Chance in a Panoramic City

Rio looks good in a picture at any angle, especially from the top of its hills. Author of the project Rio Cidade do Leblon, Luiz Eduardo Indio da Costa knows this well and imagined taking even more advantage of this panorama: he designed a circuit of aerial cable cars linking several mountains in Rio. The idea was placed on his drawing board after one of the many walks that the architect usually takes through the streets to think about the city. We need to take advantage of the topography, he believes.

“A potential urban intervention would be to execute my Rio Panorâmico project, which provides aerial cable cars through the chain of mountains that separate Copacabana from Botafogo. The proposal would extend the Sugarloaf cable car to the hills of Babilônia and Cantagalo, with a descent in Lagoa. The other, less viable circuit, would be over the forest through Alto da Boa Vista, dividing Itanhangá.”

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A Habitational Policy to Contain Favelas

With 763 favelas, Rio has the national title of the city with the largest population living in slums. According to the latest IBGE Census, from 2010, there are 1.3 million people living in these areas. Just in Rio das Pedras (slum), in Jacarepaguá, there are 80,000 people, according to city hall. The residents’ association there, however, estimates 140,000 inhabitants. It’s these figures that lead architect Giuseppe Badolato – who designed developments such as the one in the Cidade Alta, in Cordovil, and the one in City of God, in Jacarepaguá – to propose a “radical urbanization” of the favelas:

“Rio needs a short, medium and long-term housing policy that will halt the process of proliferation of new favelas. In existing ones, it’s necessary to open up avenues and access points, to avoid them being a hiding place for bandits.

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To Get on Track with a New Look and Comfort

Among the more than 100 stations on the railway line in the State of Rio, two in the city are small architectural jewels: the one on Marechal Hermes, from 1913, and the one at Olímpica do Engenho de Dentro, from 1937, which was remodeled for the 2016 Olympics. Both are protected by the municipality.

Architect Pedro da Luz, president of Brazil’s Institute of Architects, laments that such beauty is an exception to the rest of the railway network:

“I would implement an urban requalification of the railway, with the revitalization of the stations. We have beautiful stations, like Marechal Hermes and Engenho de Dentro, but we need to reform the whole system. Change the look. There are barbed-wire stations that look like concentration camps. There’s also a lack of comfort for passengers, because in many (stations) the benches are old.

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Insecurity and Abandon with Views of the Sea

On the seafront, between Leblon and São Conrado, facing an incomparable landscape, the Tim Maia Bicycle Lane does not have the kind of image that matches the landscape since a partial collapse that left two dead, three months after its inauguration in 2016. Partly restricted since then, what should be a ‘postcard’ became synonymous with abandonment. Director of the Association of Designers and Architects, architect Paula Neder suggests demolishing the structure, which “was poorly designed and poorly executed”:

“It’s a bold choice, but the bike path leaves everyone insecure. I believe in a new project, the result of an open competition, which, in addition to offering security, shows appreciation for what is one of the most beautiful views in the world, without preventing those who travel on Avenida Niemeyer from also appreciating it.”

A Right to the City

In a city full of ups and downs, urbanistic proposals are not lacking when experts think about the subject. Oscar Niemeyer’s great-grandson, architect Paulo Niemeyer confesses that it’s not easy to choose an intervention in a city lacking infrastructure, opportunities, and a “right to (make use of) the city.” Rio de Janeiro, like countless other cities, he says, has a lot to get done and in several areas.

“A place with enormous potential, if we consider the political, financial and cultural viability, would be Barra da Tijuca, where there is a lack of human scale, a lack of public spaces that are more democratic and accessible to all citizens. I understand that this reclamation, with the deserved improvement that contemporary society demands to update modernist utopia, would be an opportunity to become a model to replicate throughout the city.”

Source (PT)

Rio plazas from above

Source (PT)

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The bohemian Praça São Salvador maintains its conserved fountain and gazebo

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With burned out lightbulbs, badly-treated flower beds and homeless people, Praça da Cruz Vermelha, downtown, is worrying due to the lack of security

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Lapa, next to the Arcs, one of the city’s most famous landmarks

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Passeio Público has a grass area and a fountain in a bad state of conservation

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Praça Antero de Quental, in Leblon

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Praça Cuauhtemoc, in Flamengo, and its geometry with circles drawn into the grass

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Praça do Monroe, in Cinelândia, has a fountain with trash, not water

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Praça Varnhagen, in Tijuca

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Praça São Francisco da Prainha

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Street vendors take up Largo da Carioca with tents

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Cinelândia and its Portuguese stone geometry

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Praça Tiradentes

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Praça do Russel, in Glória, in abondon, with an empty fountain

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Praça Nicaragua, in Flamengo

Brazilian history in flames

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A massive fire raced through Brazil’s 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, probably destroying its collection of more than 20 million items, ranging from archeological finds to historical memorabilia. – Source (PT)

I don’t even have words for how sad this is. What was lost goes so far beyond the snippet above (Luiza – the first Brazilian woman, the country’s largest indigenous and scientific collections, and innumerable items from the country’s founding). After the destruction of the Portuguese Language Museum in 2015, one would have thought that proper fire prevention systems would have been installed in the country’s most important historical institutions…

The Pig’s Head – 1924

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Note: The following article from 1924 which I translated is about the tearing down of tenement housing in downtown Rio. It was said to take the homes of anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 people, who would go on to join the founding residents of Rio’s first favela. The demolition of Cabeça de Porco would also foreshadow the events a decade in the future, such as the Bota-Abaixo, as well as the city’s messy growth in the 20th century. The cartoon above shows a crying pig with a “barata” on it, referencing the then-mayor whose last name means cockroach.  

The Pig’s Head
by Hermeto Lima
Revista da Semana, 1924 [PT]

Imbedded on Rua Barão de S. Felix, up against the Cajueiros quarry, until 1893 there were cortiços (tenement houses), the last of their kind, refuge of capoeiras (hooligan ex-slaves) and murderers of all nationalities. It was the “Pig’s Head”.

A gate or, rather, an immense arch gave access to a large pigpen. From day to day it was dangerous to enter; in the darkness of the night no one dared to do so.

Along the way, hundreds of cottages lined up; rooms that were contaminated, impossible to count their number, would be open coffins, piled up on top of each other and with people inside. Along with all this, were an infinity of buildings, thrown together, with pine board walls and tin sheet roofs. Big stones on them, to keep them there and prevent the wind from carrying them off.

In front of these buildings, a non-paved street. Impossible to cross it from end to end, with such obstacles therein. Here were the tubs of laundry women; there were slings of clothes; a multitude of bamboo everywhere, with enormous twines, where shirts of all kinds and tendrils flutter. Hungry chickens cackle for a grain of corn; stray dogs full of leprosy fight for a crust; trapped enchained parrots scream and, with their paws or their beaks, seek to tear off the parasites that devour their skin; little birds of all species, beset, sprinkle themselves in the mud of their old cages; silent cats, spy frightenly through the cracks between piles of coffins and garbage cans of all kinds. A monkey with skirts, property of an Italian, a mouth-organ player, in an eternal sway, squeaks, showing its teeth. The man with a bear, makes him dance to the sound of a tambourine, whose primitive color no one even knows. A black sorcerer, from Benguela (south of Luanda), with a snake coiled around his neck, jumps and sings to the sound of a maraca.

It’s ten o’clock. The “Pig’s Head” is in its full swing. At first glance, it seems that only women work there, because a swarm of them, of all colors and nationalities – predominantly Italian, Spanish and Portuguese – is seen in a deafening “fervet opus”.

Some wash, others iron, still others in improvised kitchens, stir pots, placed on bricks and not falling only by a whim of the laws of balance.

Almost all of them sing more or less obscene songs. Some babble with the others or scold their children, who whimper there close-by.

The men, very few, work in the shoe repair shops, of which there are ten. From time to time, from one of those dens, emerges a mulatto with a pair of trousers, a belt, and a jersey, known among the hooligans, stretching and opening his huge mouth. Having just woke up.

On one side of the street is a barber shop. The owner, a giant black man who is said to be a deserter from the navy, shaves the customer’s face while telling a group about his exploits.

In front of the barber shop, a cellar draws the attention of those who go to the “Pig’s Head”. An old black man is seated at the door, which he closes as soon as someone enters or leaves. And his work must be painful, because it is a constant come-and-go of people who seem endless.

That’s where “monte” (game of luck) is played.

Naked children of all ages are everywhere; some roll around, crawling through the mud on the street; others, with their bare chest, whimper, confusing the mucus of the nostrils with the saliva and the tears they shed.

Girls, ages 12 and 13, wearing rags, carry other children in their arms or pull them along by the arm, so that they walk fast.

Boys aged 12 to 14, in groups, plan robberies, practice immoralities or tell tales, in a language capable of making a monk blush.

A den of famous criminals, when one fights there, there is no police that dare to haul him away from there.

Armed robberies or assaults are planned right there, in the open, without fear of denunciation.

Suddenly, a ghastly commotion.

There are two black women who wrestle because one wants to take the lover of another, or because she invaded the tub of the other one.

And people join in; and sides are formed, to see which of the two is the bravest. Screams, voices, trills of whistles that reach the street and the ears of the police. But they shrug and says,

“Well, it’s in the Pig’s Head.”

At other times, it is not women who fight. It is men, and then the story takes another shape. There is a hideous shooting, which, once it is over, it is not uncommon to find 2 or 3 corpses lying on the ground.

And then the news runs: – It was “Caboclo” that killed “Barba de bode”. The others had nothing to do with the fight. They were passing by at the time of the shooting.

And thus was life in the “Pig’s Head”, where about two thousand people lived.

In the monarchical regime, it was said that several authorities tried more than once to do away with this tenement, but soon higher orders appeared that neutralized that intention.

In vain, the press complained against that Babylon without assurances and without hygiene and whose property was of many, each one even more prestigious in the political world.

The Republic was made. On December 20, 1892, Mayor Dr. Candido Barata Ribeiro was appointed. One of his first acts was to do away with the “Pig’s Head” however possible.

At 8 o’clock on the morning of January 26, 1893, an infantry force of the police, commanded by Captain Marcellino and another of cavalry, were marching to Rua João Ricardo. A crowd of firefighters and about 300 workers from the Inspectorate of Public Works, the Chief of Police, Dr. Bernardino Fereira da Silva, the Mayor, Dr. Barata Ribeiro, Dr. Corrêa Dutra, second auxiliary delegate, and other authorities followed.

No one knew what that apparatus meant.

Having arriving in front of the “Pig’s Head”, it was like the barbarians entering Rome.

The infamous tenement was invaded and 300 workers with pickaxes in hand began their destructive work. When the dust from the walls was too much, the Fire Department would come to the rescue to complete the task.

The threats of the troublemakers and the lamentations of the women were worthless. Within a few hours, the “Pig’s Head” that had lasted for 53 years was reduced to a heap of debris.

Only then could one see well the many alleys, the nooks, the stores, and the corridors in which it was subdivided.

After a few months, its owners filed a lawsuit claiming compensation for damages and lost profits.

The action was evaluated at five thousand contos that the City had to pay, without a word nor a peep.

That was how much the “Pig’s Head” cost.

But it came down.

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(about 30 years after it came down)

Forgotten sambas and voices of WWII

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Over at BBC Brasil, there’s a lengthy article (in PT) on the forgotten voices and sambas of Brazilian soldiers in WWII, including a 20-minute documentary (in PT, with PT subtitles) called Os Sons Esquecidos dos Praçinhas (praça means soldier, as well as plaza). Most of the documentary, however, relates to reporting the war rather than war-related sambas, although there are some old-school styled sambas here and there.

The recordings, made by Francis Hallawell, an Anglo-gaucho war correspondent from BBC Brasil, were recovered by the network to celebrate 80 years of content production for Brazil.

Documentary shows the formation of Rio

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The documentary São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, from 2015, shows the rich 450-year history of the city of Rio de Janeiro and its profound changes, using archival footage, 3D simulations and testimonials. You can find some more info on the film here (PT).

I was able to finally see it after trying to find it for two years. The documentary is well-done, and a good watch (even if you’re already familiar with the history, like me). Check out the trailer below.

Rio Utopico – Suggestive places

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Rio Utópico is an exhibition that aims to make a spontaneous photographic mapping of communities in Rio de Janeiro whose names suggest a utopian situation. The exhibition will consist of a large map of the city, enlarged on the floor of the room, with groups of photographs of each locality gathered on the walls.

To mount the exhibition, artist Rosângela Rennó worked with young residents of these communities, who were guided to photograph and research the place where they live. The collaboration of the youth is the jumping off point for the exhibition, which will involve an open call for any visitor from the communities of Rio de Janeiro to send images to the exhibition.

The artist will receive the images during the period in which the show is in progress. They will then be selected, printed and added to the exhibition walls from time to time. The exhibition will show how people represent their own places, how they mobilize around the production of images and how the landscape of Rio de Janeiro is much more diverse than we are accustomed to seeing.

I auto-translated the section below showing the event info.

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Law of urban responsibility

Nothing guarantees that the population will see the results of promises made in the Constitution, in the laws, or in the Master Plans, to be able to live in a good city. I insist: there is no mechanism within the public administration that protects society from the inefficiency, segregation and diseconomy produced by badly planned and badly managed cities.

The emphasis on management is not for nothing. Even an ill-conceived neighborhood could have its environmental qualities increased if good public spaces were created and, of course, if they were well maintained.

Well-designed streets, places to socialize, urban afforestation, cleanliness, planning and conservation are underrated formulas for success.

They do not alleviate infrastructure shortages, but when they are not implemented, they corrode everyday life. They create empathy for degradation. “That’s the way it is” or “It’s illegal, so what?”

I heard this from Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, a landscape architect, responsible for the rehabilitation of Central Park in New York. Betsy Rogers transformed a den of crime and violence in the 1980s into one of the world’s most vibrant urban parks by simply doing what she defined with three key actions: cleanliness, beauty, and conservation.

Note that “security” was not listed. By qualifying the urban experience, making it inclusive, and always taken care of, there is an increase in good use.

William H. White, another American urban planner, innovator in the field of human behavior in public space, said: “The so-called ‘undesirable people’ are not the problem. It’s the measures taken to fight them, that’s the problem… The best way to deal with the problem of undesirables is to take action and make it attractive to everyone else.”

We verified this hypothesis when the iron bars at Tiradentes Square were removed, in downtown Rio. The place became alive. Fear had motivated the placement of the bars. Franchised and well cared for, it actually came together. However, it was not the simple removal of the bars that produced this effect, but a set of urban management actions that kept it clean, orderly, beautiful and preserved over time.

I insist on the smallest scale. In an urbanism that moves. In a new pedestrian authority. A less pretentious or revolutionary urbanism. More inclusive and loving spaces. This is no small matter. But how?

Despite the advances of the 1988 Constitution, the City Statute, from 2001, and now the newest Metropolis Statute, from 2015, life in Brazilian cities has not improved. Every 13 years or so, we made laws to say “what”, but never to say “how”.

I propose a Law of Urban Responsibility.

The Fiscal Responsibility Law, made in 2000, said how the government should manage public finances. It’s not perfect, but it has ensured social control and transparency with clear goals, making the administrator responsible. There is a clear understanding of the benefits of this way of taking care of the public good.

For another important collective good – the city – Master Plans are made, which, if not attended to, do not imply responsibility for administrators. Such plans err in failing to set goals. This function has been assigned to Strategic Plans.

Rio has been using this methodology since the Cesar Maia administration, when, in 1993, the “Rio Sempre Rio” plan was made. That’s where the vision for and pursuit of the Olympics came from. Then, in 2004, they made “As Cidades da Cidade”, where the “city” of Arts, Samba, and Children come from.

During the 2008 elections, candidates Fernando Gabeira and Eduardo Paes signed on with the Rio Como Vamos initiative for adopting goals.

Having been elected, Paes initially made a 2020 plan and set targets for the end of his first term. In 2013, the State created job titles within the city, known as Goal Management Analysts. And a new plan, with a view towards 2030, and targets for 2016. This methodology was added to the practice of agreements for result and bonuses, giving the city a glimpse of speedier management.

Just when it elaborated a strategic plan with a greater temporal scope, the Plano Rio 500 –  looking towards 2065, and with a greater participation process, and again creating goals for the next four years – the TRE-RJ made Paes and the candidate for his succession, Pedro Paulo, ineligible.

The Marcelo Crivella administration is continuing the methodology and the Strategic Plan.

A collective culture of participatory elaboration of goals in Rio is being consolidated.

But how can results be ensured?

This management model is recommended by the National Front of Mayors and even by international entities, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Based on the 2010 Census, the IBGE launched the unprecedented study “Intra-urban Typology: Spaces of Socioeconomic Differentiation in Urban Concentrations in Brazil”, which shows how acute territorial inequality is. Only 24% of the population in Brazilian urban concentrations live in conditions considered good.

The Constitution and the City Statute failed. There is no use for Plans that do not define goals. There is no point in participating if goals are not achieved.

The Brazilian population needs an Urban Responsibility Law that punishes administrators that don’t strive to make a good city for everyone. – Source (PT)

The Cult of Malandragem

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It doesn’t really seem like Rio de Janeiro is profiting from the cult of malandragem (being a trickster).

There is a part of Rio de Janeiro’s population that has always created for itself – and for the rest of Brazil that pays attention to what is being said there – an image of the city as a national and global center of malandragem. It would be a great virtue. This “spirit”, in its way of seeing things, makes Rio a city that’s superior to others. It makes its citizens more intelligent, more able to deal with life and more adept than other Brazilians in achieving the best for themselves. Imagine that these people are all up there in the hills, or in the “communities” (favelas), as one must say today. Many indeed are, but they are not the ones who are most representative, for their voice does not go far. Those that really carry this flag forward are a portion of the, more or less, middle classes of the Zona Sul, with the decisive participation of artists, intellectuals who sign manifestos, opinion-makers, influencers, communicators and so on. Today, they are the guardians of philosophy who say that to qualify as a “malandro” is one of the greatest gifts a human being can give to himself. While his worst misfortune, a source of shame and complete proof of stupidity, is to be the exact opposite of this – the sucker, condemned to spend his life in humiliation, attainment and “disadvantaged.” Be everything in Rio; but do not, for God’s sake, be an “otário” (sucker, idiot).

The hit song in Rio de Janeiro at the end of 2017 is “Vai, Malandra” (image above). Football commentators, starting with the most popular ones, once again bet that the “natural malandragem” of the Brazilian footballer will be an important strategic advantage at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The city and state politicians are proudly described as “malandros”. In the arts and in what is called a “cultural milieu” the figure of the malandro, and the philosophy that is built around his merits, are among the main themes of interest. The word “malandro”, in short, is a compliment. The word “otário” is an insult. Nothing improves, of course, the general idea that associates the sucker with someone honest, a keeper of one’s word, taxpayer, a follower of the rules of the road, well-bred, etc – all this, more and more, is seen as a weakness, as well as stupidity, a lack of “jogo de cintura” (artful dodging) and other serious crimes. A decent citizen, in this climate, is a defective citizen.

The attitude of the cult of the “malandragem” does not seem to be having good results in the practical life of Rio de Janeiro. Until the other day, three former state governors were in jail at the same time for corruption – one of them, who was not lucky enough to put a Gilmar Mendes in his pocket on the way there, is still in the slammer. No other state in Brazil, at any time in history, has achieved anything like this. The year 2017 is ending with more than 130 policemen murdered in Rio, an average of one killed every three days. Public officials have forgotten what it is to receive a monthly salary on time. It was necessary to borrow money to pay for their mandated Christmas bonus. One of Rio’s and Brazil’s biggest points of pride, Maracanã Stadium, remains closed after spending billions of dollars worth of investments to impress at the Pan American Games, then the 2014 World Cup and finally the 2016 Olympics, one event after of the other. Flamengo, the biggest team in Rio, trains in a place called “Vulture’s Nest”. None of this really has the appearance of being a great big trick. – Source (PT)