The Current

Misha Glenny inside Rio's favelas' poverty and drug cartels

Sunny Rio de Janeiro is fresh off of hosting World Cup of Soccer games and will welcome the world for the 2016 Olympic Games. But there's a Rio that's hidden from the rest of the world. Crime writer Misha Glenny went deep into Rio's favela slums and emerged with a story the world needs to hear.
In Rio's favelas, the residents are left to fend for themselves. "The State doesn't go there," says writer Misha Glenny. (Alex, flickr cc)

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is just one of the sunny sides of life that may come to mind when you think of the city. There are the beautiful beaches and iconic cityscape...  and the music, of course.

But Rio de Janeiro -- which will play host to the Olympic Games next summer -- also has a darker underside.

There are 1000 flavelas in Rio and "pacification" has only been applied in 39. The "pacification" program includes going in to the main central flavelas and putting significant special forces to control the main drug cartels. (Reuters/Pilar Olivares)

More than 1000 separate slums dot the hills around Rio... often side-by-side with some of the city's most opulent homes. Known as "favelas," they are densely packed, noisy, and teeming with organized crime.

Rocinha slum is in the middle of the three wealthiest districts in Rio de Janeiro. The state neglected the flavelas and their inhabitants until drugs and homicides were prevalent and the prospect of hosting the Olympics and World Cup came about. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes)

For his latest book, the crime writer Misha Glenny, went deep into one of Brazil's largest favelas. He brings us the story of one its drug lords, Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, a man also known as Nem in his book,  "Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio".

Misha Glenny joined Friday host Matt Galloway in our Toronto studio.

 
This segment was produced by The Current's Leif Zapf-Gilje. 
 

"Rap Das Armas," from the favelas of Rio​

Much of Brazilian Funk, as its known, that is played inside the favelas reflects the rampant crime there. The song "Rap Das Armas," for example, was banned from the Brazilian airwaves when it was first released in the 1990s because it glorified the criminal life.  But it went on to become a dance hit in Europe after being remixed. 

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