June 30th, 2014
10:14 AM ET

Experience This Favela and Explore the Other Side of Brazil

For this year's World Cup, Brazil has put its best foot forward.

From thousands of miles away, one sees Ipanema's glistening beaches, multi-million dollar soccer stadiums and thousands of screaming, exuberant fans.

Yet nestled in the hills above Rio de Janeiro, a different dimension of Brazil languishes in poverty, succumbs to violence and struggles with drug abuse.

The slums, called favelas, lurk ominously over Rio's natural splendors.

Densely populated, with narrow streets and unreliable infrastructure, the favelas are, more or less, Brazil's underbelly - highlighting the stark economic divide between the rich and the poor.

CNN's Chris Cuomo explored Favela Tavares Bastos, where some residents voiced discontentment with the Brazilian government and lamented the lack of meaningful change.

"They haven't got a democracy, what they've got is a 'kleptocracy,'" Bob Nadkarni, a hotel owner and British ex-pat who has lived in the favela for 35 years, said.

Nadkarni said that Brazil and the favelas are both plagued by corruption, even after a 2008 "pacification," intended to clean up and restore a semblance of order to the slums.

Despite the favela's laundry list of problems, Nadkarni remains smitten with Tavares Bastos and its panoramic views of Rio.

"I sit here in the morning, having my cup of coffee - and the steam is coming through my cup of coffee, and the sun rolls over the switchback mountains and pours over the sea like fresh orange juice," he said.

"Oh boy, after 35 years, I'm still looking at it and I still love it."


See photos from Chris' time in Favela Tavares Bastos:

main street of favela

"The main street that leads into the favela," Chris writes.

favela view of brazil

"The favelas have the best view of a place where many feel they are not welcome."

futbol favela

"In the middle of the favela, open space is dedicated to what matters most– the beautiful game: #futebol #futbol #soccer."

view of rio favela

"Bob Nadkarni's hotel: #TheMaze. The irony is that the poorest areas have the best views of #RiodeJaneiro– the benefit of being cast into the hills."

For more of Chris' photos in Rio, check out his Facebook page.

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. Alan

    Interesting! I`m a brazilian, but remember, we never said that we are a perfect country with no poverty, we just said that we are improving and trying to get better!
    Of course we have our ghettos (favelas) and unfortunately it is part of our culture. But remember, this is just one face of Brasil, not as the media want to so much show it.
    No one believed when we were chosen by fifa that our country was perfect. Youre welcome to learn all about our country, but unfortunately we all can see how prejudiced the media of northern hemisphere have been portraying the world cup in Brazil.
    You probably think that majority of brazilians live like that, and that not true. And live in favelas doesn't mean you are really poor. Everyone (the majority) in favela have a job. It`s not as we want? Of course no, but definitely not as media want to make you believe.

    July 2, 2014 at 11:07 am | Reply

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