Thursday, August 16, 2012

What Is Really Going On In Rio ?

Julia Michaels
Julia Michaels, an American journalist who has lived in Rio de Janeiro for 30 years, began writing Rio Real as a way of monitoring Rio’s revitalization as it prepares for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. 

She’s worn out shoe leather and fought Rio's nightmare traffic getting to numerous civic meetings. Sometimes she takes transit that breaks down. Or she has to climb up the rotting staircases honeycombing the unpacified favelas, sometimes late at night.

An intrepid writer, the petite journalist attends as many meetings as she can to ask the tough questions. She doesn't want to miss anything. This is the first time in the city's history where citizens will have a voice in their future. People are turning up at meetings. because they now have a voice in the planning process. 

Writing her posts in both Portuguese and English with an ironic, yet compassionate tone, Julia spends a lot of time sorting through the press releases for stories among the debris of hyperbole from the sponsors and politicians. Then from her own research she writes what people need to hear about: what is really going on in Rio.  

Rocinha's favela was only recently pacified
While the international media focus on Rio’s delays in getting ready for the Olympics, Julia’s reporting focuses on what happens to people when their homes are destroyed and they are relocated to make way for for new roads, housing and stadiums.

Cranes dominate the landscape in preparation for the 2016 Games
Underneath the glamour of the sporting events, there is a much larger question that needs to be answered, Julia says. "Will the enthusiasm for solving social issues continue as well?" 

"I want it to," she says. Far too often she’s seen plans die on the beaches of Rio. With so much at stake, she wants to play a role to see that the current positive transformation does not stop once the new buildings, stadiums and roads are finished.

Writing from the core of the revitalization, Julia is witnessing deep social changes. 

"I see things in Rio that are beginning to reveal a new tolerance, concern and solidarity. Vai durar?"

No comments:

Post a Comment