Rio’s slums get another look amid economic development

Juan Forero – Washington Post, 10/06/2011

Police captain Glauco Schorcht, commander of a favela called Providencia in Rio's city center, takes visitors toward the top of Providencia. (Credit: Juan Forero/For the Post)

The views were heart-stopping: the famous beaches of Ipanema, imposing Sugar Loaf mountain, the choppy blue Atlantic. The downside of the property that Andreas Wielend wanted was that it was in one of Rio’s notorious favelas, the violent slums clinging to the city’s picturesque hillsides.

But as Rio de Janeiro remakes itself for soccer’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, several intrepid companies, a score of city agencies and even a few foreigners are wandering into the city’s once-forbidden favelas in search of opportunities. Wielend, a 33-year-old Austrian telecommunications engineer, reasoned that the advantages outweighed the shortcomings.

So two years ago he paid $10,000 for a spacious house 1,000 feet up in the Vidigal favela and opened a little hotel, which has been a hit not just with young American and European travelers but also locals who venture up for rollicking parties from the glittering city below.

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