Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho

Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho are neighboring favelas in Copacabana and Ipanema, in the South Zone. This is one of the classic examples of the formation of favelas in Rio Janeiro, in which the poorer population settled in the hills close to the fastest growing areas.

At the top is one of the best views in Rio, with Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. The social contrast is very evident in this part of the metropolis, where lower class residents live close to one of the richest neighborhoods in the city.

In spite of being located in an upscale area of Rio, it faces all the typical problems of needy communities. Residents suffer from the lack of infrastructure, and until a short while ago they had to submit to the rules of the Comando Vermelho (CV), the criminal group that controlled drug trafficking.

The complex formed by Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho holds a population of some 17 thousand people. A study of the Cantagalo favela showed that 94% of the residents had water and sewerage service and 86% had a telephone. The study also indicated that 80% of the residents were born in Rio.

The location allows its residents easy access to the Central Zone and its jobs. Young people from this community are generally better informed, as they are close to the city’s cultural centers. However, they are also close to known areas of prostitution, like some streets and discos in Copacabana.

The geography of the hill and its privileged location also favor the sale of drugs outside the favela. Studies show that the criminal group that dominated local drug trafficking earned R$ 220 thousand per month in the low season and up to R$ 330 thousand in periods at the end of the year, like New Year’s Eve and Carnival.

In December 2009, a Police Pacification Unit (UPP) was inaugurated in the region, promising residents the end of drug trafficking and enhanced safety in the favela.

The results of the recently inaugurated UPP have still not been measured, but they are visible in the daily life of the communities. During the occupation of the hillside, the police seized a large number of weapons. With a force of 195 recently trained men, the Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho UPP is commanded by Captain Leonardo Nogueira, an official with an arts background, specialized in Latin Percussion by the Villa-Lobos Music School. Work is still underway, but security has already been improved and residents are no longer subject to shootings. The results of the UPP can be seen in the daily routine of these communities as residents are now starting to invest in new businesses and cultural activities are booming

The Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho complex has attracted social initiatives. At the top of the hill is a large building, called the Brizolão, where entities that try to promote improvements and educational projects for the residents of the community are located. In addition to government and UNESCO actions, there are projects by NGOs that were already established on the hillside, like the Criança Esperança Project and AfroReggae with its program “Dançando para não Dançar” (Dancing so you don’t Dance to the Wrong Music).

Athletes and artists promote social activities in the communities. Among these are the members of the Cirque du Soleil, documentary maker João Moreira Salles and ballerina Ana Botafogo. There is also an Integrated Public Education Center (CIEP). The school is the headquarters for classes and presentations on civic involvement, computers, circus, sewing, capoeira, dance and boxing. Alongside the professors, the police themselves help to administer the space.

Another initiative brought tourists to Cantagalo for New Year’s Eve 2007. The idea was a success, and for New Year’s Eve 2010, several tourists watched the fireworks from atop the residents’ houses, in Cantagalo. Community leaders are also developing the Favela Museum, with outdoor tourist routes that tell the community’s story and value local culture.

In July of 2010, a series of elevators was inaugurated at Morro do Cantagalo, connecting the hilltop community to the subway station of General Osório, in Ipanema. In addition to the elevators there is also a lookout, called Mirante da Paz (Peace Lookout). This construction contributes to a further integration between the community and the rest of the neighborhood and boasts a fabulous panoramic view from its 65 m high vantage point.

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11 Comments about "Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho"

  1. Joost says:

    as a tourist from The Netherlands, can I now just walk up to the viewpoint from my hotel in Copacabana feeling welcome?

    • Jeff says:

      I think you can. Don’t forget that muggers/thiefs are active primarily in the Copacabana/Ipanema areas, but NOT in the favelas themselves :)

      • Joost says:

        haha, logical, thanx!

  2. Gulli says:

    I am an Italian tourist,
    I am going to get a house for vacation right next to the favela Pavao Pavaozinho, in av. Djalma Ulrich. Is it a safe place during the day and night?

  3. Pamachia says:

    Nice article but you forgot to mention the Favela Surf Club, which is a club formed to promote the sport and provide alternatives to youth in this favela, it is a locally famous club.

  4. Joao says:

    I lived here for a year. UPP is present but completely paid off, like many other things in rio, it creates an appearance that everything is under control, but if you really have a problem regarding crime in the area, the gang enforces the law. If you not from the morro and don’t have any friends from there, I would stay out at night. During the day you should be ok, dont be that tourist who walks around taking pictures like its a fuckin zoo please. You can find Criança Esperança at the top and there you can find great views and tons of NGO’s, including the Favela Surf Club, hands down the most famous/successful of them.

  5. PTRio says:

    I would not enter the upper areas of this favela right now (Jan 2014). BOPE sent troops in last night, there have been several shootouts and on Friday night/Saturday morning one person died. Shops nearby were ordered closed by the trafficantes, some refused to close. Late yesterday (Saturday) and now today all bars and shops along Sa Ferreira near the favela entrance are closed. This includes one 24/7 bar which normally only closes on Christmas Day. This seems to be building to a conclusion, and it could involve a lot of bullets flying. Ask around along St. Roman street before entering the favela, local residents can provide the most up to date information.

  6. [...] find my own place. I got curious about the topic and interviewed my neighbours in the community of Pavão-Pavãozinho about it. They found it better to use the word comunidade instead – although apparently this [...]

  7. Age Renew says:

    Tɦanks very ice blog!

  8. Deryk Banks says:

    I had the pleasure of staying 3 months in Pavao-Pavaozinho. I arrived 2 days before Christmas and stayed thru March 2015. It was a good stay. The police were there in force, although there were a few incidents with trafficantes. All in all, the people were great and I walked down to Copacabana on many nights. I went to Ipanema primarily during the day, as it seems to be less lit at night than Copacabana. Be careful on the beaches and don’t wear gold, which I saw targeted many times by the little robber gangs. The favela is not perfect, or luxury living, but there are many hostels and they are used to tourists there. I rented a small efficiency loft apartment that was very up to date with a small flatscreen TV, 2 beds, kitchenette, full size refrigerator and dining table. Had a loveseat for sitting also. I would definitely go back. Electricity does go out often, especially when it rains hard. Also, the residents love to play music, especially on weekends,so if you want quiet, go elsewhere.

  9. dtzrpgtyj says:

    Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho – SoulBrasileiro

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