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Surveillance cameras in the favelas (2)

October 20, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that the military police had installed surveillance cameras in the favela of Santa Marta, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which I visited back in April. This is the first time such police cameras have been put into such informal settlements in Rio. My friend and colleague, Paola Barreto Leblanc, sent me this link to these youtube broadcasts from a local favela TV company, in which residents discuss their (largely negative) views of the cameras.

There is also a poster that has been put up around the area produced by the Community Association and other local activist and civil society groups – see here – which reads as follows in English:

SANTA MARTA , THE MOST WATCHED PLACE IN RIO

At the end of August, the inhabitants of Santa Marta were surprised to learn from newspapers and TV that nine surveillance cameras would be installed in different areas of the favela. A fear of being misinterpreted paralysed the community.

Many of the people of the city, and some in the Moro itself support this initiative.  However, we are a pacified favela, so why do they keep treating us as dangerous?

Walls, three kinds of police, 120 soldiers, cameras – this is no exaggeration.  When will we be treated as ordinary citizens instead of being seen as suspects?

Wall: 2 million Reais, Cameras, half a million Reais. How many houses could this amount of money build? How many repairs to the water and sewage system?

The last apartments built in Santa Marta are 32 square metres. The Popular Movement for Housing [an NGO] says that the minimum size should be 42 square metres. Other initiatives have gone with 37 square metres. So why don’t we stand up and demand this minimum standard? This should be our priority!

When will the voice of the inhabitants of this community be heard?

We need collective discussion and debate.

Fear is paralysing this community and preventing criticism. But the exercise of our rights is the only guarantee of freedom.

“Peace without a voice is fear”

We want to discuss our priorities. We want to know about and be involved in the urban development project in Santa Marta.

We will only be heard and respected if we unite.

Think, talk, reflect, debate, get involved…

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