Services place their trust in Cariocas

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Data shows that honesty is still growing among cariocas

In gloomy times, plagued by corruption and serial political scandals, honesty, so discredited, endures in the day to day of the city. Contrary to even the non-believers, it’s possible to see evidence everywhere that having a good character is on the up and up. From services such as the VLT, which did away with the fare collector and depends on the awareness of the users, the newly established self-service registers in department stores, always with dilettante customers making the payment, Rio is still able to teach lessons of citizenship.

With the modern streetcar, the evasion rate – that is, of passengers who get on and off without paying, ignoring the rules of civility – doesn’t hit 10%, according to the concessionaire responsible for transportation, going against all expectations that vandalism and slyness would prevail. With the establishment of cash registers operated by customers, almost nobody leaves without paying, to the surprise of those who didn’t believe that it’s possible to adopt here a common system of the world’s great metropolises.

In 2015, when it was announced that VLT passengers would be responsible for paying fares upon entering the vehicle, the news was practically treated as a joke. But, after two years, the fact is that 90% of the passengers behave as they do what’s customary, religiously paying the R$3.80 fare. The percentage is even higher than what’s been registered in European cities, according to the consortium that operates the streetcar that already cuts across the center of Rio. The VLT’s honesty “inspectors”, who do random checks, attest that it’s rare to catch a bad payer in the act.

The most common thing, they argue, is to watch passengers, as they embark, go straight with their RioCards towards the fare validators. Inspector Bruno Teixeira Campo says that, by day, he sends at most one passenger to the police to be fined for evasion. He also says it’s normal for savvy users to alert others who use VLT sporadically on how to validate tickets on the machine. And those who fall into the fine mesh of inspection usually get embarrassed and make feeble excuses.

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“Those in a hurry claim that they forgot to validate the card, that they didn’t know they had to have a ticket when they boarded or that they saw the VLT at the stop and, in a hurry, they got on without reloading the RioCard. There are also those who talk on the cell phone and say they were distracted. But in general, as a Carioca, he is proud to see that almost everyone does the right thing,” Bruno observes.

VLT Director of Operations Paulo Ferreira says that, even on European systems, the evasion rate can surpass 40%. In the VLT contract, a 30% rate was forecast. But the rate never got so high. At the start of the operation, it was close to 15%. And, since then, it’s just been falling. This can be understood from the convergence of data from the validation machines and the passenger counts done by cameras installed at the vehicle doors.

“But it’s still not possible to remove the inspectors from the operation”, says Ferreira, without ruling out the possibility of an even more civilized future, with total mutual trust between the operator and passengers.

The anthropologist Alba Zaluar says that the phenomenon doesn’t surprise her, despite the whole reality of corruption that haunts Brazil. She calls attention to what she considers discrimination against Cariocas, said to be mischievous. She says that, despite this collective value judgment, very few people try to take advantage of everything.

“The population is very outraged. I see people proud to differentiate themselves from those who are robbing the country, to say that they work and live honestly, without deceiving anyone. Even because trust is the basis of all the movements of society – analyzes the scholar.

From September 5 to September 30 2016, the police counted 8,970 fines imposed on passengers for non-payment of the VLT fare. February had the highest number of infractions: 950 people. Last September, there was a sharp drop: 521 fines.

New Relations in Commerce

Another service that depends on the goodwill of customers is Bike Rio, which, since 2011, has trusted that rented bikes, after being ridden, will be returned by cyclists. And that is how it has been, nearly all the time. At Rio International Airport, terminal parking managers say that 90% of drivers respect exclusive vacancies for seniors, people with special needs and pregnant women.

In addition, throughout Brazil, public and private libraries are already implementing book-lending systems, in which interested parties lend and return publications on machines with barcode readers. In commerce, establishments began to provide self-service registers, in which customers themselves register their goods and make payment, without any inspection, as it has been for some time in stores in Europe. The system was adopted in some supermarkets in the Zona Sul and, since the beginning of the year, in five Lojas Americanas in Rio and São Paulo. “The solution is practical and allows the customer to carry out the entire purchase process alone. The implementation of this technology contributes to the operational performance of the stores, boosting sales, especially in times of high traffic. In a short time of operation, the self-checkout has been very receptive and represents a relevant portion of store transactions,” says Lojas Americanas.

At the end of last month, a GLOBO team tested one of these terminals at the Shopping RioSul location. People were still staring at the machines, half-disbelieving, and suspicious. I had to line up for the traditional cash registers, but there was no one using self-service. It was enough for the reporter to start paying for his purchases, for two other customers to notice the novelty and to encourage them to use it. Even smaller stores are venturing out. And it’s not just now. In Botafogo, it has been even longer, decades, that a restaurant has no one mediating payments made by customers. The owner of the establishment prefers not to disclose the address, claiming that he chose the method by having a captive clientele. He admits, however, that widespread publicity could jeopardize a model that, without marketing, is working.

“What we do goes against the madness we’ve seen in this country,” the businessman acknowledges.

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Nearby, at UniRio, in Urca, the students are trying out an initiative that has earned the nickname “the little wall of honesty“. In a garden at the Arts and Literature Center, students leave products for sale and go to class. The offer goes from snacks and cakes to sweets and fruit. But no one is watching what happens. If someone is interested in buying, they choose what they want and leave the money. There are reports of stealing, but most behave well. Those unusual cases forced the group to make adaptations, such as creating makeshift coffers where customers deposit notes and coins to prevent any thefts.

“I’ve seen people put paper in place of money. But it’s a minority. Most of it is honest, says Information Systems student Davi Coutinho.

Another university student and actor César Júnior is enthusiastic about the experience:

“The function of the university is also to provoke this reflection and stimulate awareness. Products have fair prices. And behind each of them, there is a job. The ‘little wall’ helps support many students, either to pay for the bus to come here or for class expenses.”

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Downtown, a formal business decided to change its relationship with customers. In the Curto Café, on Menezes Cortes, the prices of goods aren’t fixed, only suggested. And there isn’t a cash register controlling how much each person pays. It’s the customer who makes the payment and takes his change from a pot, on top of a counter. Asked if it’s successful, the entrepreneurs say the establishment has been operating for five years, and they serve 700 to 800 coffees a day. Some pay less than the indicated prices, others pay more. The average balances out the sales.

“I’m surprised at this place. I hope that this concept spreads,” said customer Sueli Afonso.

Source (PT)

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500 Rio-based recipes in new book

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A new book profiles Fluminense tastes

The seat of the Portuguese empire from 1808, and federal capital between 1763 and 1960, Rio de Janeiro was the first Brazilian metropolis. In 1822, 150,000 people from diverse backgrounds circulated through its streets. Cosmopolitan by essence, the city forged its culinary identity with the mixing of diverse foreign cultures and recipes – mainly Portuguese, but also African, French and Asian – influenced by local ingredients and habits. In spite of Rio’s prominence in the history of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro’s cuisine does not have as clear a representation in the national imagination as in states such as Bahia, Minas Gerais and Pará, easily identified by their acarajés, cheese breads and tucupis, for example. This gap starts to be closed with the publication, by Metalivros, of “A Culinária do Rio de Janeiro: da Colônia à Atualidade”, by Flávio Ferraz – which will launch on Monday (4th), starting at 7pm, at Bar Lagoa.

A psychoanalyst from Minas Gerais, based in São Paulo, and passionate about Rio and its flavors, Ferraz dedicated ten years of his life to researching this universe. He searched primordial works such as Cozinheiro Imperial, the first cook book launched in Brazil in 1839, as well as hundreds of menus, guides, specialized channels and websites. The result is an unprecedented profile of Rio de Janeiro’s cuisine compiled in just over 300 pages. “What struck me, and motivated me to write the book, was the lack of specific material about Rio, in the face of the abundance of publications about other states, even those that are less relevant,” notes the author. After a fine preface by historian Rosa Belluzo, Ferraz analyzes the daily life in the court and in the city, highlighting customs and social movements that helped create the diffuse food culture of Rio.

“It focuses, for example, on the heritage of street food. So trendy nowadays, it has been at the base of culinary tradition since before the emergence of taverns and bodegas, the ancestors of restaurants. And it reveals the origin of the Carioca’s passion for leisure and the outdoors and for informal bars. In countless canvases, Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768-1848) portrays the streets of Rio de Janeiro in the nineteenth century, with slaves preparing and selling cakes, manuês, sonhos, cornbread, pão de ló, angu and even feijoada. “The city has always had a profile related to being outside of one’s home, transforming daily happenings into public life,” analyzes historian Antonio Edmilson, a professor at PUC-Rio and UERJ, recalling the chronicles of João do Rio.

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Illustrated by respected designer Victor Burton, the book provides the reader with 500 recipes, many of which had already been lost in time. There are dishes that exalt the neighborhood where they were created, such as Copacabana fish, Flamengo cod or Ipanema kidneys, and classics such as picadinho, Oswaldo Aranha fillet and feijoada, which, although of lusitanian origin, took on local traits. Citing delicacies like the cookies of chef Katia Barbosa, the author makes the bridge between the past and the present.

And it goes beyond the limits of the capital by covering the Serrana and dos Lagos regions, the Costa Azul, the Litoral Norte and the Costa Verde. Finally, it devotes a good section to drinks, recovering traditions like the aluá (a refreshment of native origin, made from the fermentation of rice and rapadura) and emblematic drinks like the caipirinha – that became a national symbol -, through creations of mixologists such as Alex Mesquita and André Paixão. A feast and then some, for lovers of good food. – Source (PT)

Rio aims for its own High Line

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Mayor Marcelo Crivella wants a ‘High Line’ over Rio’s Central Station

Even while under criticism about the lack of urban care and money for healthcare, city council announced its intention to make a High Line in Rio, like the one in New York. Yesterday, Mayor Marcelo Crivella signed an agreement with Russia’s Olympic City Group that is prepared to develop, without cost to the city, a Public-Private Partnership to build a “suspended city” on the railway line between Central do Brasil and the Leopoldina station. The work is estimated at R$8 billion (US$2.49 billion), which should be raised within the private sector.

In New York, the High Line was built nine feet high, but over a deactivated railroad line. It started as a local initiative to revitalize the space and ended up as a large success among locals and tourists from all over the world. In the reform, about R$800 million (US$249 million) was spent, ten times less than what’s predicted for Rio’s project. But the Rio High Line has bigger ambitions and, in addition to gardens, plans to include shops and commercial buildings that would occupy an area of ​​about 1 million square meters. It would be 15 meters high on the SuperVia stations. The grandiose venture would pass close to communities, such as Morro da Providência, but the city did not address safety issues.

Olympic City Group says it will study a plan to occupy the area and analyze, for example, what changes would be needed in urban planning legislation. The investments would be made possible by a PPP similar to the one for the Porto Maravilha project, with the issuance of Additional Building Potential Certificates (Cepacs). The analysis is expected to be ready in six months.

The Cepacs formula is facing problems at the port due to the financial crisis, and the certificates ran aground. For six months, the city’s administration took over almost all the infrastructure-related maintenance services that were handled by concessionaire Porto Novo. And then, in a new operation, it began to inject more public money into the project, which returned into the hands of the concessionaire.

The High Line should be started in 2019. Rio’s city hall will still have to sign agreements with the federal and state governments, owners of part of the areas where the suspended gardens would be. – Source (PT)


Not mentioned in the article is the High Line is part of a larger project called Rio Sem Muros, to transform the railway line surrounding eight neighborhoods: Santa Cruz, Campo Grande, Bangu, Padre Miguel, Madureira, Engenho de Dentro and Meier. Read more here (PT)

Is tourism the solution for Rio?

Rio, a solution with open arms
by Vinicius Lummertz, President of Embratur

A new window of opportunity has been opening up for tourism in Rio de Janeiro. Cities that were consolidating as major tourist destinations in the world are reaching their limit, analysts say. In a striking article (PT) in the magazine Visão, Portuguese journalist Sara Rodrigues has no doubts: “Tourismphobia is spreading throughout Europe”. Cities like Barcelona (32 million last year, with 8 million foreigners, for a fixed population of 1.5 million) or Venice (22 million in 2016, for a population of 350,000) are studying ways to contain the hordes of visitors.

So, now it is our turn. Yes, it’s time to say that if they don’t want tourists, then may they come to Rio, may they come to Brazil.

The city, like Christ the Redeemer that illuminates it, is with open arms, as always. New tourist facilities installed during the cycle of major events (2007-2017) are there, as well as investments in mobility. In terms of private initiatives, more than twice as many beds are being offered as were available less than ten years ago.

For the first time in the last three years, the number of new international connections to Brazil (Rio included) has grown again. We now have the ease of electronic visa entry for Australians and, by the end of January, for Americans, Canadians, and Japanese. The exchange rate is still favorable for tourists coming to Brazil.

In September a nice calendar of events was announced, predicting big events every month and other dozens of happenings scattered throughout the year. Today’s major tourist destinations were as violent as Rio de Janeiro 30 years ago. Not taking into account the recent terrorist attacks that scare residents and tourists from emblematic cities around the globe. Thirty years ago, Miami, for example, as well as being a city surrounded by crime, was bankrupt. The city council put several measures in place, among them the creation of a calendar of events.

Tourism is starting to be treated as the protagonist for a possible exit to the serious economic and social problems of the city that is the postcard of Brazil. This assertion that tourism belongs on the main agenda of the economy has also become political, and therefore should take on new heights of awareness in society.

Why Rio? The city continues being the largest connection in Brazil with the rest of the universe and speaks for the world to the rest of the country.

When it doesn’t speak for politics, it speaks for aesthetics, music, arts or habits. Its greatest good is its lightness and its renewal. Its evil perhaps is too adaptive. Not being able to say “enough already!”. Both the good and bad appear first and last in Rio.

Here we have the magic mirror of the nation. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to talk about Rio’s problems, about Rio’s violence, without contextualizing Brazil. We are coming out of a difficult time, nationally, with increasingly strong signs of economic recovery. Brazilian tourism and Rio tourism must be prioritized at this time, instead of looking at the city like a shattered glass.

Government actions to tackle organized crime are fundamental. But said actions alone don’t solve the problem. Of course taking assault rifles off the streets will be an important step. However, it’s necessary that young people no longer see the appeal of the criminal world. The greatest concrete opportunities for such youth are in tourism and in an attractive environment linked to a strong tourist town.

The victory of Rio will have a greater result than simply saving the city. It will have the role of guiding Brazil along new and happy paths that have the words ‘tourism’ and ‘creativity’ as a central point. – Source (PT)


This is placing the cart before the horse. Rio needs to take care of public security before it focuses on a tourism push. Tourism being down is a direct result of the lack of safety. This is to say nothing of the main reason for tourism-phobia in Europe. Over-tourism is a disease and can only be controled with laws in place, which are then being actively enforced. Tourism makes the economy move but it’s just a band-aid to larger economic problems.

Giant ferris wheel – A new Rio fixture

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A ferris wheel, 88 meters high, will be part of the Olympic Boulevard scenery. To be inaugurated by the first half of 2018, between AquaRio and the Aqwa building (see below), a ticket will cost from US$6-9 (R$20-30). Inspired by other world-famous ferris wheels, such as London Eye, the so-called Estrela do Rio will be the largest in Brazil.

The project, estimated at $6.1 million, will be funded by a company to be created by Esfeco Administração, holding company of Trem do Corcovado, AquaRio and Complexo Paineiras. The wheel will have 48 cabins with air conditioning and capacity for 300 people. Each round will last 30 minutes and will offer the visitor a 330-degree view of the city.

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(One can see the relation between Aqwa and AquaRio, as well as Cidade do Samba on the left, and Pedra do Sal on the right)

“The wheel will be installed in a large square where a gas station was previously located, on an area of ​​2000 m², stretching out the Boulevard walkway. In Guanabara Bay, with the Rio-Niteroi Bridge, it will provide a view of Praça Mauá and the Museum of Tomorrow, and the entire downtown,” said Sávio Neves, director of Esfeco. He initially discussed the idea with the former mayor Eduardo Paes, in 2009.

The Estrela do Rio will run every day of the week from 11h to 22h. The structure will be accessed by VLT stations Cidade do Samba and AquaRio. The expectation is to increase the flow of people in the region, especially to AquaRio, which has already received 1.4 million visitors.

Sávio Neves is going to China in the coming days to choose a supplier. After closing the deal, the product will be transported by ship to Rio. Staff will be trained by Chinese manufacturers. According to Neves, the largest Ferris wheel in Brazil is in the Hopi Hari amusement park, in São Paulo, at 44 meters, half the height of Rio’s. The largest ferris wheel in the world is the High Roller, in Las Vegas, at 167 meters. The Estrela do Rio is also more than double the size of the 2017 Rock in Rio ferris wheel, which was 35 meters, and higher than the one set up at Copacabana Fort in 2008 and 2009, at 36 meters.

A concessionária Porto Novo retomará hoje a operação na Zona Portuária, interrompida em julho por falta de pagamento. Ela fará manutenção, conserto de calçadas, arborização, drenagem, iluminação e controle de tráfego.

The Porto Novo concessionaire has resumed operations in the port area, previously stopped in July due to lack of payment. It will do maintenance, and repair of sidewalks, trees, drainage, illumination and traffic control. – Source (PT)

The future Museum of Tomorrow

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Visited by 1.4 million people in the country in 2016, the Museum of Tomorrow, with investments abroad, wants to bring its collection and content to an audience of over 100 million per year. Open for less than two years, the Museum of Tomorrow has just started its international expansion. With the brand MoTi (Museum of Tomorrow International), based in Rio, it arrived earlier this month in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, as part of a commitment made with three local partners. The investment abroad is part of a strategy that aims to bring collections and museum content to an audience estimated at over 100 million people each year, via TV, Internet and traveling exhibitions.

The institution’s global ambitions are encouraged by last year’s results, when the Museum of Tomorrow was the most visited in all of Brazil. The audience (1.4 million persons) was almost three times what administrators expected, which was 500,000. The unconventional collection, based on interactive content which is easily replicable in other areas, is a point in favor of the internationalization strategy.

Even before settling in Holland, the institution’s area of influence already far surpassed the building’s futuristicly-lined walls erected next to Praça Maua, the design of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. “Today, via Facebook, Twitter and the official site, we reache 7 million people,” said Ricardo Piquet, CEO of the Museum of Tomorrow and Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Gestão (IDG), a social organization that manages the institution. In the Netherlands, the Museum of Tomorrow occupies a space within the THNK School of Creative Leadership, a laboratory for the discussion of ideas and a startup accelerator aimed to generate social impact. The intention behind internationalization is just developing a series of initiatives on a global scale that encompass both traveling exhibitions, online exhibitions and audiovisual products. “We want to produce films and series for TV and Netflix,” said Piquet. Within the strategy outlined by management, the transmission of audiovisual content via cable and broadcast television have potential – in the long run – to reach more than 20 million people per year.

At the moment, the Museum of Tomorrow is expanding its operations with temporary itinerant exhibitions. It also offers a consulting service for the implementation of methodologies and content tools, within a logic which will, in the future, include marketing “packages” including content, design and concept for exhibitions. The model reduces costs traditionally associated with artistic exhibitions, such as the transportation and insurance for art work. The next step is the global dissemination of such content via the Internet, reaching more than 100 million people in a period of over four years, according to the institution’s projections.

The Netherlands branch, according to Piquet, is an almost entirely self-sustaining investment from a financial point of view, the same line adopted at its Rio de Janeiro headquarters. Of the US$14.6 million budget for the Museum this year, $6.1 million would have come from the City of Rio de Janeiro, which informed the institution’s administrators of a reduction of their share to $3.6 million.

The cut was drastic in comparison with 2016, when Rio’s City Hall contributed $8.5 million. Even so, the museum’s activities were not affected, since most of the budget is made from private resources. “Our desire is to be entirely private,” says the CEO, without establishing a deadline. In the Netherlands, the first years of operation are guaranteed by resources allocated by a private investor.

In addition to the agreement signed with the THNK School of Creative Leadership, for an initial duration of one year, there are signed partnerships and technical cooperation agreements with 17 institutions, including the Google Cultural Institute and Columbia University. The choice of Amsterdam as first city to house a MoTi unit took into account technological and logistical factors, but also the ability of European capital to attract new businesses and talent (the city ranks third in the Global Power City Index ranking) and it has the best cost/benefit in comparison with London or Paris.

For next year, one of the major international bets for the Museum of Tomorrow is the Global Climate Room, an exhibition that will encourage the visitor to reflect on the effects of climate change and the consequences of human activity on the planet. It’s not by chance that the first cities planned to receive the exhibitions are located on the coast. “The idea of sustainability is tied to our project,” says Piquet. – Source (PT)

Clive James Postcard from Rio – 1989

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I came across this documentary about Rio, from 1989, called Clive James Postcard from Rio, showing a snapshot of the city almost 30 years ago. You can find it below in English and with a voice-over in Continental Portuguese. If, for whatever reason, it gets taken down, just put the name of the documentary into Youtube as there are several uploads of the same video.

It’s perhaps important to note the out-of-touch aspect of the host, and how almost every line he says is a non-stop string of “witty” remarks. It’s rather pessimistic for a travel documentary, and the host’s ignorance shines bright in several instances. Nonethelss, it’s still interesting to get a feel for the city in the 80s.


“Strolling along the promenade at Copacabana one could easily believe that the citizens of Rio are the luckiest in the world. But sunshine, music and the beach are the only blessings Rio hands out with fairness.

The chance to eat well and die healthy is the privilege of the few and the envy of the many. The poor living on their wits in the favelas, can only trust the voodoo gods to see them through.

And if that means sacrificing the odd chicken, so be it. Clive James is made welcome by rich and poor alike. While the cariocas live in their own worlds, making contact only when a servant is paid or a millionaire is mugged, the outsider can meet them all.”

Esqueleto Tourist Hotel

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In 1953, work began on the construction of Gavea Tourist Hotel. The idea, designed by architect Décio da Silva Pacheco, was to make a luxury establishment targeting high-earning clientele. The location encompasses about 30,000 square meters, which was to include a restaurant, a private forest and even an aerial tram. Although unfinished, the space was opened for some events: in 1965, there was a large New Year’s Eve celebration with 1,000 guests, and a night club called Sky Terrace was open for a while on the property grounds. From the 60s onward, the setting has been the backdrop for films, model shoots as well as highly frequented by curious travelers over the last decade, including for sports.

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However, in March 1972, the construction of the Hotel was interrupted by developer California Investments, which would take over the project. Five years later, the company filed for bankruptcy and work stopped altogether (and gone with it, the money from 11,000 people who bought shares in the company in exchange for free stays at the hotel). In 2011 it was sold to a group of investors for R$29 million and the building was closed in preparation for technical inspections and future construction, but there were problems with permits and the project didn’t go ahead.

As mentioned, that doesn’t stop people from going there, though. In part, thanks to Globo’s article (PT) in 2016 about the location becoming a tourist spot, there have been many reports (even up to August 2017) of guards posted there and the location being effectively closed. – Sources 1 (PT), 2 (PT) and 3 (PT)

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Rio roadworks failed to help the poor

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World Cup and Olympic roadworks did little to improve Rio’s transport, says IPEA

A new study (PDF, in English) shows that increased social inequality regarding access to quality public transportation, and expensive fares, contribute to low demand for services.

The transportation infrastructure changes, made in Rio to hold the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, barely impacted the life of the city’s population. This is the conclusion (PT) of a study from the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA).

According to the survey, the economic crisis, the high cost of travel and the lack of fare integration help explain the low demand in relation to the means of transport built for these events.

“The investments, due to the World Cup and the Olympics, that could have reversed the situation, or at least ameliorated the situation, actually ended up reinforcing this inequality since the investments were just made in middle-class areas, occupied mostly by middle-class and upper class people,” noted Rafael Pereira, a Planning and Research technician for IPEA.

According to research, the Transolímpica, a roadway connecting Deodoro to Barra da Tijuca, in the Zona Oeste, for example, had no significant effect on people’s access to schools or employment opportunities, as this express corridor is far from the majority of these locations.

Meanwhile, residents complain of overcrowding in public transport and the high price of fares, in addition to travel delays.

“Sometimes I take four hours [to get to and from work], claimed day laborer Luzia Lourenço da Silva. “The metro is mostly very expensive and very full,” said maid Janaína dos Santos.

The IPEA survey showed that in 2014, before the World Cup, the poorest 10% in Rio could reach only 15% of jobs offered in the city in 1 hour. After three years and more than R$13 billion in investments, the same portion of the population can reach 16% of jobs in the same period of 1 hour. An increase of only one percentage point.

Meanwhile, for the richest 10% in Rio, it was more practical to get to work, which only increases the social gaps, according to IPEA. – Source (PT)


G1 comments are usually best given wide berth, but I think we can look at three, while keeping in mind another recent event (PT) – that BRT will close 8 stations in Zona Oeste:

1. “These idiots never stepped foot in the Rio subway to know how it’s full at any time or day of the week. The photo [video still] from the article does not match reality. Try going to the Alvorada Terminal at 17:00 or in the morning to see that the BRT works exactly the opposite to what the “study” presented. It is a work of fiction, IPEA should be ashamed.”

2. “The map of the BRT stations contradicts this “study”. Penha, Vila Kosmos, Olaria, Vicente de Carvalho, Vaz Lobo, Madureira, Campinho, Praça Seca, Tanque, Taquara, Curicica … only rich people live in these neighborhoods [sarcasm]. This is not meant to be taken seriously. The time has passed for the ideological dismemberment of IPEA, which is a federal institution.”

3. “I read it carefully. It’s ideologically determined. Where do the rich and poor live in Rio de Janeiro? In the same place. The only thing missing here is to say that the subway station at the foot of Rocinha (the largest slum in Latin America) was made to benefit the wealthy in São Conrado.”

Rio bookstores, reinvented

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Bookstores reinvent themselves to face the crisis and the internet

From the outside, Livraria Camerino, in the Port Zone, looks like a shop for photocopies, novelties and stationery. But whoever crosses through one of the three doors of the old building, in front of the Valongo Suspended Garden, will discover a world of shelves and shelves filled with used publications, among them, textbooks, novels, guides, almanacs and rare magazines. There are 15 thousand titles for sale in the used bookstore, open since 1971, and that has belonged, for several generations, to the family of 55 year old bookseller Paulo Félix. Meanwhile, the bookstore Lumen Chisti specializes in new editions with religious content, but those who are looking for the small shop in the courtyard of the São Bento Monastery, also in the Port area, can find chocolates and sweets produced in the South of the country, as well as images and medals.

The two addresses are in the “Guia de Livrarias da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro” (Bookstore Guide of the City of Rio de Janeiro), released by the State Association of Bookstores (AEL-RJ), last month. Edited after two years of research, the material, however, is already in the hands of readers in need of correction: of the 204 listed establishments, eight have already closed their doors. Three years ago, they were 252.

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According to the president of the association, Antônio Carlos de Carvalho, this was the first guide of its kind produced by the institution and, as the objective was to make a complete map, the survey included all types of establishments from the branch. There are small bookstores on the street, used bookstores, those with bistros, religious ones, those that diversify with stationery, and the mega bookstores, who also sell electronic items. Diversification may be the reason these places weather the era of fast internet and e-books.

The Oldest is from 1897

Of the 204 presented in the Carioca guide, the one on Spiritist Federation on Avenida Passos, 28, founded in 1897, is the only one in operation since the 19th century. Beyond that, seven were opened in 2016. In the opening text, the guide explains that this changing shop profile is actually a return to origins, “when books were just one of the items offered”:

“Unfortunately, some that are in the guide, such as Casa Cruz and a Saraiva branch downtown, have closed. But the guide shows that there are many still open. The reality is that the vast majority do not just sell books. They sell games, CDs, magazines and even coffee. Many became almost bazaars. But I think it’s still possible to live off of selling books in the city. So much so that our family has been in this business for more than 40 years, and my bookstore sells only books”, defends Antônio Carlos, owner of Galileo (Rua Major Ávila 116, Tijuca).

Of the bookstores in Rio, 25% carry general titles, from various areas of knowledge. The others are segmented. There are 33 religious bookstores (15 being Evangelical) and 27 used bookstores, according to the guide. Those who sell didactic and paradidical books make up 28. The Livraria Camerino (Rua Camerino 52, Centro), for example, mainly carries books on exact sciences for undergraduates.

“Looking online for mainly engineering and mathematics books, for students from 38 colleges in Brazil. Half of my sales come from there”, says Paulo Félix, who, on days for guided visits to the Port Zone, usually receives tourists looking for books on the history of the region.

Solário (Rua Sete de Setembro 169) is one of the traditional ones that endure downtown. But, like most, it also adhered to selling online:

“In the months of January and February, the buyers are the self-taught group. Throughout the year, we sell other types of books, focused on fiction, esotericism, self-help and children. We are always struggling with internet sales, with sites that buy wholesale and give discounts. There is even a site for home appliances selling books online. But from my experience, anyone who likes to read will never give up a book. We have to continue”, says manager Alfredo Silva, at Solário for 15 years.

One flip through the guide shows that many owners have diversified their businesses to ensure survival. Antiqualhas Brasileiras (Rua da Carioca 10, Centro) exhibits cachaça, antiques and some book covers of literary works about Old Rio in the window. Letra Viva (Rua Luís de Camões 10) is another example. In its large hall, used book shelves share space with bistro tables. Owner Luiz Barreto believes that the way to attract readers is the environment:

“We are a used bookstore, but not that old kind, dark, dusty, unkempt. The customer comes and feels like staying longer. We also do online auctions of art books. The important thing is to diversify the business.”

Zona Norte has More Spaces

The addresses indicated in the guide are divided by the regions of the city, with maps and a short summary of each establishment. The Zona Norte appears first, with 63 stores; followed by downtown, with 60; the Zona Sul, with 54, and the Zona Oeste, with 28. The publication, which will not be sold, has been distributed to publishers, bookstores and public agencies.

In 2014 and 2015, the city lost 18 establishments, according to the association. For Bernardo Gurbanov, director-president of the National Association of Bookstores, the crisis in the sector cannot be interpreted as the end of books:

“The challenge of maintaining a bookstore is too big. Books compete with many other entertainment alternatives, with new technologies. And it’s up to bookstores and publishers to look for alternatives, such as offering aggregate services. But I believe books will keep their place, because a world without stories is inconceivable.”

According to the Panel of Book Sales in Brazil, a survey that the National Union of Book Publishers publishes monthly in partnership with Nielsen Bookscan, despite the crisis, there was a 6.02% growth in the amount of books sold in the country. Studies show that the number of readers has increased again: in 2011, it represented 50% of the population and in 2015 it reached 56%. The reading index indicates that the Brazilian reads, on average, 4.96 books per year. The previous average was four.

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Livraria Letra Viva

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Livraria Letra Viva

(see top photo)

Livraria Camerino

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Livraria da Federação Espírita

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Livraria Solário

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Livraria Cultura

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Livraria Cultura

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Livraria Lumen Chisti

Source (PT)