Rio de Janeiro is not only remembered for its extraordinary natural beauty and exuberance of popular culture. The city is also marked by extreme contrasts, reflecting a high degree of social inequality. The gap between the richest and the poorest and their close geographic proximity are characteristic features of Rio.
The Rio de Janeiro has major social problems, in the same neighborhood, such as Gávea for example, there is a difference that has developed over 60 years. Opposing realities are seen within a few meters of each other. On one side we have the upper class, with its mansions and high levels of education, and on the other side groups who in poor conditions, living in shacks, without even a basic education.
This chasm of inequality generates many other difficulties we experience in our day-to-day city life. Violence, crime, drug trafficking, police corruption, deficiencies in health, education, and transportation systems are all part of Rio’s daily routine.
Urban violence is a growing problem that since the 1980s has impacted all residents. The city has high levels of crime, especially homicides. Between 1978 and 2000, almost 50,000 people were killed in Rio, most victims of drug trafficking, robberies, or stray bullets. There is a large concentration of teenage homicides, the age group most at risk within the drug gangs and who suffer most from police violence.
However, recent research shows that violence has declined in recent years in Rio de Janeiro. The 2008 Violence Map of Brazilian Cities revealed that in Rio the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants dropped 40% between 2002 and 2006. Indicators developed by the organization Rio Como Vamos (How Are We) also confirmed that the city experienced a drop in the number of fatal crimes, including bodily injury followed by death and armed robberies. In 2008, the rate was 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Urban violence is not the cause of the problems, but rather a consequence. Historical factors, urbanization of society, and inequalities are just some of the factors that have led to the reality that we have today. We need to understand and analyze these to find solutions for these problems that affect the city and its residents.