Urban Regeneration in a Context of Violence: The case of the Favela-Bairro in Rio de Janeiro

Jota Samper

This paper explores how modifications of urban space in informal settlements impact conditions of violence. I argue that to understand this issue, it is necessary to bring two fields of study together: (1) poverty alleviation and (2) urban violence. Scholars (across multiple disciplines), usually study one or the other, but I argue that in the case of informal settlements, poverty alleviation and urban violence geographically intersect. In practice, some Latin American municipalities see these two issues (poverty alleviation and violence) as interconnected and recently have used the tool of urban upgrading as a way to deal with both. This paper explores contemporary urban upgrading practices in Latin America as a fundamental way that (policy and physical) interventions in informal settlements can affect the residents’ quality of life and perceptions of security. Specifically, I map the interventions of the favela Bairro (FB) project in Rio de Janeiro, the earliest and most renowned urban upgrading project in Latin America. I mapped perceptions of violence based on semi structured interviews I conducted with government officials and architects as well as with residents in three favelas. I conclude that both groups agreed that the FB project had, indeed, improved the quality of life while affecting conditions of violence in the favelas.
However, this analysis revealed that the benefits could have been even more successful if the process had been left to the local government, rather than restrained by the requirements of international agencies, which minimized communities’ participation in the regeneration process and dissuaded local organizations from defining the future of their own communities. This reduced the communities’ leverage to challenge the perverse organizations that were trying to control their neighborhoods. In this way, the involvement of international agencies increased the vulnerability and levels of violence in these communities. Today, municipalities are open about how they connect these two issues of security and poverty and attack them through the tool of urban upgrading, but there is not a theoretical framework to analytically asses this interconnection. The analysis presented here is a first effort to assess the validity of this urban upgrading argument. The aim of this paper is to inform practices of urban upgrading in Brazil today, as well as the ongoing international debate on future urban upgrading in the context of generalized violence and what I call “the continuum of violence.”


This research focuses on identifying and analyzing the connection between the physical urban environment in places where violence and poverty intersect. In the vast literatures that explore both concepts of violence (conflict) and poverty (poverty alleviation and development) the idea of the physical space where these two intersect—the favela or informal settlement—as an actor in the conflict is never explored. This paper challenges this absence on the grounds that the urban environment is a crucial variable in the theater of war and thus understanding the ways that the space and its modifications affect the conflict is fundamental for the advance of each of these two concepts as well as the connection between them.
Specifically, this paper explores how modifications of urban space in informal settlements impacts conditions of violence. By conditions of violence I refer to the private use of the means of repression in informal settlements, what Caroline Moser calls “perverse organizations.” I argue that to understand this issue, it is necessary to bring two fields of study together: (1) the practices and policies of poverty alleviation, especially those directed toward improving physical living conditions of the space of low income populations in general and of informal settlements in particular and (2) the vast interdisciplinary scholarship on violence and security. Scholars (across multiple disciplines), usually study one or the other, but I argue that in the case of informal settlements, poverty alleviation and urban violence geographically intersect. Therefore, it is necessary to bring these two fields of study together. In practice, some Latin American municipalities see these two issues (poverty alleviation and violence) as interconnected and recently have used the tool of urban upgrading as a way to deal with both.
Urban upgrading practices in Latin America today philosophically attend to the idea of integrating segregated populations that live in informal settlements with the formal (social and physical) structure of the city. Urban upgraders identify the roots of poverty and violence in informal settlements as these settlements’ social and spatial segregation and distance from the formal structures of the city. This is akin to Diane Davis’s concept of “distance from the state.” (1999, 601) Davis identifies four different sources of “distance”: geographic, institutional, cultural, and class. Urban upgrading programs like the ones now implemented in Latin America attend to two of these sources of distance—geographic and institutional—with physical and policy projects. Today, municipalities are open about how they connect these two issues of security and poverty and attack them through the tool of urban upgrading, but there is not a theoretical framework to analytically asses this interconnection. The analysis presented here is a first effort to assess the validity of this urban upgrading argument.

This paper explores the intersection of those concepts in what Elizabeth Riley et. al. calls “the new generation” (2001) of urban upgrading programs in Latin American cities as a fundamental way that (policy and physical) interventions in informal settlements can affect the residents’ quality of life and perceptions of security. This project maps the effects of those policies and projects in the oldest and most renowned urban upgrading project in Latin America: the Favela-Bairro project. As its name Bairro (or neighborhood) indicates, the FB proposes to transform the informal settlements of Rio de Janeiro into formal neighborhoods of the city. Here I explore two questions. (1) In what ways has the Favela-Bairro (FB) project, in Rio de Janeiro affected the quality of life of the communities where the projects were implemented? and (2) in which ways do these effects correlate with changes in the perception of security in these areas?

Specifically, I map the interventions of the Favela-Bairro (FB) project, based on empirical data gathered in on site semi structured interviews, from two perspectives: (1) the architects, planners, politicians and social workers who designed and implemented the project and (2) the community members who lived in the favelas before, during and after urban upgrading projects were implemented. I mapped perceptions of violence based on interviews I conducted with these two groups’ residents in three FB upgraded favelas.

I make four conclusions. (1) After a decade of FB implementation, that involve physical interventions along with policy interventions, community members and planners agree that on one hand the project benefits favela residents’ in terms of quality of life in terms of both modifying perceptions of security and helping to alleviate the conditions of poverty. (2) On the other hand, integration (the social and physical) of the favelas with the formal city has not been achieved. (3) Scholars often attribute this lack of integration to governmental procedure. I have found, however, that the involvement of international agencies in the middle of the FB process, their contributions of financial, expertise, and legitimacy that enhanced the FB project goals notwithstanding, also is responsible for removing the tools the local government introduced in FB’s earlier stages that potentially protected the community members from “perverse organizations.” The impact of these changes continue as a legacy in today’s contemporary urban upgrading practices in Rio de Janeiro (like the PAC and the Morar Carioca projects). The result was to enforce top down development practices (that we still see being implemented today) and this in turn debilitated the ability of local organizations to define the future of their own communities, as well as the capacity to challenge perverse organizations trying to control the community turf. International agency practices, then, increased the vulnerability and levels of violence in these communities. Nevertheless, the paper concludes that the physical interventions in informal settlements had positive impacts on individuals perceptions of security overall. (4) At a broader theoretical level, there is a possible connection between transformations to physical structure of informal settlements like public buildings and transportation network and the community members’ perceptions of security.
This paper proceeds in four sections. First, I examine how today practices of urban upgrading in Latin America have merged into a single project and policy tool, with the goals of increasing security and poverty alleviation. Second, I discuss the methodological approach to my study of these urban upgrading practices. Third, I analyze perceptions of ways FB projects in three favelas have impacted security and poverty alleviation from two perspectives: (a) the seven policies oriented framework used by Ridley et. al. (2001) and (b) an evaluation of how those projects and policies effected perceptions of security in the areas where the projects were implemented. Fourth, I conclude by arguing that the urban upgrading practices that tried to bridge the informal communities’ “distance from the state” had positive impacts on perceptions of security but that more attention needs to be placed on enriching levels of community participation and governance in those communities to make those changes of security perception long lasting.

1. Urban Upgrading and Security
Traditionally, governmental institutions address poverty and violence as two separate issues with two separate sets of institutions. Since the 1990s in Latin America, there has been a tacit understanding among government leaders, media, and elite residents that informal settlements are, (compared to the rest of the formal city), the contexts in which large concentrations of violent actors live and wage violence, and where the largest concentrations of poverty exist. There is then beliefs that both issues—the concentration of poverty and of violence—are somehow connected. Recently the conceptual connection between these two issues has inspired the search for tools that can be practiced in the geographical intersection where these problems are located and thus simultaneously deal with both issues. In another twist to this approach, people have believed that intervening in one of the issues (poverty or violence) will produce the necessary leverage to eradicate the other.
Three bodies of literature help to understand this intersection between efforts to improve quality of life in poor informal settlements and how those efforts interact with the manifestations of urban violence in such territories. The first body of literature critiques traditional practices of urban upgrading and development, and how its evolution and the critique of its practices have generated the current multi-approach practices. The second body of literature focuses on the inter-relationship between conditions of under-development and urban conflict and violence (the idea that favela-like environments are synonymous with gang and narcotraffic violence). The third body of literature focuses on the transformation of the physical environment as a tool to change social behavior, since these new multi strategies place such an emphasis on the physical design as the tool that enables and make all the other interventions visible. This explains why municipalities (mainly in Latin American countries) associate these strategies as tools to deal with both poverty and violence.

(1) Urban Upgrading and Development
Initial planning approaches to the problem of slums used positivistic strategies: they dealt with what they term urban “blight” by eliminating slums and replacing them with new infrastructure exemplified in the approaches of urban renewal. Mark Fried (1966) condemned the social and psychological costs of these poorly designed projects and practices. Furthermore these types of projects were implemented by states as tools to further marginalize those minorities associated to these areas (Kaplan 1963, Kennedy 1967). A reaction to those abuses of power of the state lead to the first application of urban upgrading that sought to minimize the scale of state intervention and expected physical urban development to be implemented by dwellers. This was based on the work of John F. C. Turner, which later was implemented by the World Bank. However this “minimal state” approach, according to Werlin (1999), did not recognize the need to use state institutions to deal with the structural problems around issues of urban poverty and slums, or the need for the state to intervene in issues of land tenure. Hernando de Soto’s thesis supported the idea that granting legal tenure accelerated the process of development (De Soto 1989) and that land occupied by informal settlements had an important economical value that could be tapped into to provide funds for development goals. Inspired by spirit of de Soto’s work, South-Asia development practices since the 1990s have incorporated the private sector seeking to profit on the potentials of slum land values. This strategy has developed in a practice of urban upgrading by the (private sector) market. Most critiques of this approach point out that the dangers of these approaches include loss of social capital because people are displaced from their communities to make way for these new upgrades combined with the loss of asset appreciation by slum dwellers (Mukhija 2001).

Today the prevailing approaches around the world dealing with poverty and their consequences on quality of life are understood more as a compilation of strategies than a single-minded approach. This “historical evolution of ideas” (Tibaijuka 2009, 39) regarding urban upgrading is reflected in different sectors of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (Payne 2005). What has come to be known as a multi-practice approach (UNDP 1992; Recife Declaration 1996; DFIF 1997; Vandershueren et al. 1996 and World Bank 2000) broadly follows the same framework defined in seven different policy guidelines (Riley 2001). These guidelines, implemented in the neighborhood upgrading programmes, emphasize: (1) that poverty is a complex and multifaceted problem; (2) the need for a multi-sectoral approach; (3) design as a vehicle of social and physical integration; (4) that because of the scale of the problems of poverty (and informality) the project needs to be of sufficient scale to have an impact at the scale of the city; (5) that public and private partnerships are needed; (6) the engagement in these type of projects require some level of state reform; and (7) the pursuit of inclusion, participation and democratization. This represents the state recognition of its responsibility towards the inhabitants of the slum areas as a “Social Debt” (Samper 2010) or their “right to the city” (Rio Siembieda 2010) who borrowed the concept and term from Henri Lefebvre (1996) and David Harvey’s development of them (2008). This is a move away from the criminalization of slum dwellers found in the older practices. In general, this most recent multi-practice approach builds and incorporates elements of all previously explored approaches towards the reduction of poverty. One key element that is left out is the understanding that in some situations development (eradication of poverty) and conflict are related issues.

(2) Under-Development and Urban Conflict and Violence
This literature approaches the idea of favela-like environments as being synonymous with gang and narcotraffic violence). This literature on violence focuses on the individuals, communities, markets, criminal networks, policing and governance that operate in the spatial context of neighborhoods, cities, nations or regions. Most relevant to this paper are literatures that focus on how space and violence are connected issues and thus, solving one cannot be done without engaging with the other— what Paul Collier called “Breaking the Conflict Trap”. Caroline Moser (2004) defines the relationship between what she calls “perverse organizations” and their use of social capital in the neighborhoods where they operate, thus linking the conditions of the contexts where these organizations operate with their subsistence. Desmond Arias (2004) says that acts of resistance from within the favelas have proven to be more resilient than the acts of the state institutions. Polly Wilding (2010) provides a gendered perspective of the public and private space of the favela where the lines between the victim and the aggressor get blurred and understood in a more complex cosmology than traditional violence studies. In other words, favela dwellers need to be understood beyond simplistic categories of criminals or victims and in terms of being one or the other. Maria Fernanda Tourinho Peres (2004) also identifies relationships between geographic clusters of homicide, low incomes and social segregation in Brazil that confirms my argument about the connection between urban environment and levels of violence and poverty. Astonishingly, in this vast literature’s different approaches, the idea of the physicality of the favela as an actor in the conflict is never explored. Violence literature explores spatial conditions simply as scales of study in which to map distributions of violence (Moser and McIlwaine 2004).This paper challenges that idea on the grounds that the urban environment plays a fundamental role as an important variable in the theater of war and understanding the ways that the space and its modifications affect the conflict.

These two tactics of controlling violence and poverty explains, in part, the emphasis these projects place on the modification of the physical environment of the “slums” as a way to change conditions (perceived and real) of security. This is supported by Eduardo Rojas’s (2010) findings that the “trend” in Latin American neighborhood upgrading programs is to use them as tools for “protecting vulnerable groups (such as young people at risk) and decreasing urban violence” (149). Three upgrading programs (policies and projects) serve to illustrate this new trend clearly: (1) The Medellin Urban Integrated Project (IUP) and the government’s DDR (Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration) process with the paramilitary groups in Medellin post 2003 (Samper, 2010) are parts of the same package implemented by the city Mayor’s office. (2) The Rio de Janeiro Morar Carioca Project is connected with practices necessary to secure the city for the 2014 Olympics. (3) The urban regeneration Juarez, Mexico project “Todos somos Juarez” is happening at the same time as the national government’s war against the drug cartels in Juarez, Mexico. Based on my analysis and on-site interviews in Medellin and Rio de Janeiro, I argue the following:

• In the case of Medellin, the urban transformation and the policies that supported the DDR process with the paramilitary forces were projects that intersected in the same geographic space. At the same time that the state (national and city) built transportation networks and public buildings, such as libraries, schools, public gardens and plazas, a group of more than 2,500 demobilized paramilitary members returned to these same neighborhoods. The demobilized members then participated not only in the DDR educational projects and their economical benefits, they also were in some cases labor employed to be part of the crews that built the new urban projects. The political apparatus used the (positive) publicity of its urban projects along with the reduced homicide rate as proof that these policies and projects had a direct relationship to the simultaneous reduction in violence. These two massive and simultaneous forces of change in the physical and human urban environment in the same geographic space require us then to analyze issues of poverty and security as intersecting and dialectical.

• In Rio de Janeiro, the projects’ relationship with goals of security is a more tacit one, at least in terms of state public discourse. The state public officials do not openly assert that Morar Carioca will make the favelas safer. In practice, however, the reality is different. Morar Carioca’ objective is to urbanize all favelas in Rio by the year 2020. Because the Olympics is coming to Rio in 2014, a phasing strategy of Morar Carioca has been designed to ensure that favelas geographically located inside of the security polygon of the 4 major centers of Olympic activity have priority for urbanization. This makes evident that even if the relationship between the urban project and security is not explicit, like it is in the case of Medellín, there is still a link between the transformation of the physical structure of the favelas and their security.

• In Juarez, Todos Somos Juarez is a presidential initiative that intervenes cosmetically in poor neighborhoods in Juarez at the same time that another presidential program is using military contra-insurgence tactics to dismantle the criminal organizations operating in the city. The areas of the projects (mainly playgrounds and parks) have become dumping ground for dead bodies’ from the bloody war that is still being waged. This body dumping in these specific areas of new projects can be interpreted in two ways: that the interventions of the state had little impact on the scale of conflict, or on the other hand, that dead bodies in the parks is because these “perverse organizations” see these Todos Somos Juarez projects as attacks on their sovereignty.

These three examples connect this trend of Latin American multi practice (urban upgrading) design as tools to reconquer spaces where the (Max) Weberian right of the state to control the means of repression is directly contested by what Moser call perverse organizations. Thus, the focus of this paper—the FB project in Rio—is not an isolated case. This paper focuses on this relationship between the urban space where the conflict happens and the armed actors who operate within it.

The informal settlements wars
From these three cases I can define two types of general conflicts: (1) One conflict is the traditional assumption that a “perverse organization” (its armies not their intellectual heads) located in a geographical position of the city are in constant confrontation with the state. This can be called an asymmetrical war. (2) The second kind of conflict is an internal one in which multiple perverse organizations fight each other for the control of territories, while maintaining some kind of contestation with the state forces. We can call this a symmetrical war.
One revealing issue that comes out of comparing these two types of wars is this: the incapacity of the state to claim sovereignty is the only constant. The actors whom the state is trying to control (eliminate) are actually constantly changing. This is something I have called the “continuum of violence” (Samper, 2010). This is defined by the fluctuation of different armed groups that enter and leave the conflict. These groups are responsible for perpetuating the violence. Further complicating the situation, these actors often switch sides (groups) of the conflicts. This fluctuation of a conflict group’s presence in a neighborhood, as well as changing conflict group affiliation, reveals a gap between the ideological political roots of the conflict and the people who actually fight in the conflict.
This implies that there is an environmental condition (the social and physical space of the favelas as a conspirator in the levels of violence) in the neighborhood that makes them prone to conflict and thus, the violence will reactivate once the group in power has been replaced by a new illegal actor.
I propose viewing the cities of Medellín’s and Rio de Janeiro’s violent history as a continuum of violence. Moser (2004) concludes that in the Medellín case it is the direct relationship of crime as a political action and the fact that security is not run by the state, but instead by the private sphere, which fuels the conflict. She builds on the work of Gutierrez and Jaramillo (2004) to explain the continuous presence of armed political groupings in Medellín, Colombia, over the past 20 years. Gutierrez and Jaramillo argue that “[while social exclusion is a strong indirect catalyst of urban violence; it is the conjuncture of the politicization of crime and the privatization of security that is the predominant causal factor.”
Gutierrez and Jaramillo conclude that with continuous intervention from the municipal and national government authorities to broker peace accords “with all their positive aspects, the peace accords have only reshuffled the security personnel that proliferate in the city.” This implies that there is a reaction between the two types of wars (symmetrical and asymmetrical) and how one influences the other.
Ralph Rozema (2007,439) supported this idea of the “reshuffled” of private security forces (perverse organizations) in the city. He writes that when the paramilitary group Bloque Cacique Nutibara (BCN) expelled the other paramilitary group Bloque Metro from Medellín, the BCN incorporated some of the Bloque Metro fighters into its own group. This reshuffling of security personnel as the individual fighter’s only source of resilience (and that of their family), in terms of the means of subsistence, is also reinforced by Suarez et al (2002, 204). They explain that from 1999 to 2002, “what marks this period is the political decision of the guerrilla to urbanize the war and the transfer of the actions of the autodefensas [right wing paramilitaries] to the city. The guerrilla groups use the different milicia groups, and the autodefensas used the neighborhood gangs.” Angarita (2002) confirms that “by 2000, the paramilitary groups had absorbed or/and control most of the larger armed illegal gangs and had important battles with different armed factions of the insurgency [guerrilla].”
Medellín has been the site of these factions’ fighting with each other for control over territory since the 1990s. Francisco Gutiérrez and Ana María Jaramillo, made a “reconfiguration of the city’s security map” by means of what I am calling a continuum that ranges from gangs and hit killers (sicarios), through left-wing militia to right-wing paramilitary.”
In Rio as in Medellin, this phenomenon of reshuffling illegal armed actors (drug lords and militias) has been occurring as far back as the 1970s, according to some authors (Zaluar and Conceição, 2007) and for more than 2 decades according to others (Fernandes, 2010). In Rio de Janeiro this process follows a similar path to the one explained in Medellin. Here it is between the different factions of drug lords and their right wing counterpart the militias. The changing percentages of favelas controlled by drug lords versus militia are evidence of this reshuffling which reveals the control of perverse organizations is not hegemonic. This also exposes how vulnerable this type of environment (informal settlements, favelas) is to appropriations by non state repressive actors.

Figure 1 Non-state armed actors distribution in favelas in Rio de Janeiro Source: data: Fernando Gabeir, image: Jota Samper

There is a lack of political, economic, and social structure in specific neighborhoods of Medellín and Rio de Janeiro; informal areas that come from a tradition of informal settlements that have not been reached by the political social and cultural infrastructure of the city. It is this predominant spatial scale that permits the necessary isolation (distance from the state) for the proliferation of a multiplicity of armed violent groups.
What I also want to emphasize is that the environmental conditions of the favela, as a place where violent acts happen, is not only dialectical, as in “the imaginary of fear” that Felipe Botelho Corrêa (2009) explores. I argue, rather, that there should exist some lurking variables that explain why these physical spaces are taken by a multiplicity of groups within and outside its borders. This is because if the actors who perpetuate the acts of violence are not JUST from within the environment of the favela (or specific district), then this should imply that the environment (social and spatial) is susceptible to be manipulated by externalities. This is in contradiction to the traditional popular belief (exploited in the media) that the conditions that produce these manifestations of violence are seeded inside the favela. If this assertion is true, the important question is: Why are the favelas so susceptible to repressive manipulation by some actors and so resilient to resist others? And what role does the space play in this war?
2. The Favela-Bairro project as a case study
A new typology of approach to urban planning has emerged. Government agencies have invested in policies and projects that engage with the problem (of slums) from a new perspective. These policies move beyond just focusing on a single practice to a more operational multi-practice approach (Riley et. al. 2001, Meulder and Shannon 2007, Rojas 2010, Fiori et. al. 2001). They incorporate, into a single project, multiple dimensions: institutional reform, in situ upgrading, tenure legalization, social engagement and a special emphasis around highly selected, targeted physical public infrastructure interventions. This new approach is largely evident in the 20+ Latin American examples of these projects. The Favela-Bairro (FB), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is the first of this new generation of projects based on these policy concepts. It is also the project that serves as a model for many other similar projects in Latin-America, like the Medellin Integrated Urban Project (UIP) (Samper 2000) and the CONAVI in Caracas (Lepik 2010, Brillembourg and Klumper 2010 132-135).
From this group of projects, two of them, located in two cities (Medellin and Rio de Janeiro) have remarkable similarities: the Urban Integrated Project UIP (Samper 2010) and the Favela-Bairro (Rio and Siembieda 2009), respectively. Not only do their policy approaches and physical interventions of these projects follow a multi-practice approach, but they are also implemented in cities in informal urbanized areas (slums, tugurios, favelas) in which illegal armed actors (drug traffickers, guerrillas, right wing paramilitary groups, gangs or combos) operate in open contestation of the legitimacy of the formal state power structure (Carmona et al 2005, Koonings 2007, Samper 2010, Rozema 2007 and Penglase 2005). Both interventions in Medellin and Rio have pursued the broader goal of incorporating these informal settlement areas into the formal structure of the city. And so the multi-practice approaches were a political strategy of the formal state to gain legitimacy in these same areas where the “state before was dissociated” (Rabello 2002).
The Favela-Bairro Project (FB) neighborhood upgrading programs executed by the municipality of Rio de Janeiro aimed to integrated the favelas into the formal fabric of the city through four interconnected projects: (1) Completion of basic urban infrastructure like water, sewer, electricity and waste disposal; (2) physical urban reconfiguration of the favela through new street grids ordering and the construction of new public buildings such as nurseries and community centers; (3) provision of social services of income generation and training programs and (4) legalization of land tenure. Since 1994 to the present this project has been implemented in 140 favelas and is one of the largest slum-upgrading programs implemented to date in Latin America (Riley et. al. 2001).

In the case of the Medellin’s neighborhood upgrading program— the Integrated Urban Project (IUP)—the political party that implemented the interventions claimed that the development of the projects similar in scale to those of the FB project in Rio de Janeiro was instrumental in the reduction of violence in the overall city during the 2003-2007 period. The party based this claim on the fact that the (drastically increased) new city investment in urban upgrading inversely matched the (drastically lowered) homicide rate. In contradiction to this claim, a satisfaction survey in January 2010 revealed that the residents of the neighborhoods where the interventions were implemented expressed that the success of these interventions was not best measured by the reduction of violence (which since the end of 2008 has begun to rise again). They argue, rather, that success lay in the fact that these projects opened physical and social channels of communication between the informal communities and the formal institutions of the city, and that even at moments when the violence re-emerged, these channels of communication have remained open, helping to mitigate its effects (Samper 2010).
Most prior evaluation of the FB and the IUP has focused on the opinions and self evaluations given by those working in the organizations that implemented the projects and the opinions of planners and architects behind the projects (Conde and Magalhães 2004, Machado 2003, Duarte and Magalhães 2009, Martin and Corrales 2009 and Escobar 2006) and not on the favelados who live in the neighborhoods (Duarte et al. 1996). This missing piece of the program evaluation leads me to the following general question: In what way do the claims of the executors of the projects and later evaluators (the International Development Bank IDB, Mayor’s Office of Rio de Janeiro, the College of Architects of Rio de Janeiro, and the individual architectural offices) differ from (or correlate with) the perception of the favelados who lived before, during and after the implementation of the projects in their neighborhoods? And what conclusions about the success of the programs for future policy can be drawn from this comparison between the executors, evaluators and residents? Furthermore, given that the Favela-Bairro project was pioneering, implemented before any of the other similar projects in Latin America, how has the perception of the impacts of this project changed over time, both in terms of claims regarding the favelas’ integration (poverty alleviation) and security?
I focus on two specific research questions. (1) In which ways has the favela-bairro (FB) project, executed in the favelas of Chácara del Castilho, Fernão Cardim and Vidigal from 1992 to 2000 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, affected the quality of life of the communities where the projects were implemented? (2) In which ways do these effects correlate with changes in the perception of security in these areas?
Semi Structured Interviews
This paper compares the similarities and/or disparities of perceptions about the outcomes of a particular project among two groups of individuals in the Favela-Bairro project: users vs. service providers. I focus on two types of populations and ask similar sets of questions adjusted to their context. I describe these two populations as community and experts . The community category includes only those individuals who lived through the experience of and who were present during the interventions of the projects. The expert category includes only individuals involved in the project in a position of performing or giving advice as professionals, namely architects, planners, social workers and politicians actively involved in the Favela-Bairro projects in the three selected favelas.
I conducted 25 semi-structured interviews with the two groups in Rio de Janeiro in January 2011. All of these interviews were in person. For the expert category I selected a representative sample of 10 from a pool of 500, based on their mix of expertise and that they have been directly involved in the favelas where I interviewed community members. About 40% of the group were women and the ages of all members of the group range from 40 to 65 years old. The experts included senior professionals that range from the directors of all the architectural firms that worked on three favelas to survey projects; the director of the Secretaria Municipal de Habitação (SMH) at the time of the project and staff from the SMH who worked and continue working on the secretaria projects of “urbanization of favelas”; and the former Mayor of the city of Rio de Janeiro. All interviews were conducted in the offices where these professionals work today (2011) in different locals around the city of Rio. It is important to notice that at least three of the individuals interviewed here had written articles and/or books about the Favela-Bairro. The architects (principals of offices) of this group had participated in the most publicized urban projects in favelas in Rio de Janeiro, and the planners had a long and intimate experience with project and thus all of them possess deep knowledge of the process.
For the community group, I interviewed residents of the favelas who have lived through the planning and development of the projects and who still live in those neighborhoods. I selected these community members using a snowballing technique (Bertaux 1981), starting with access to the three favelas (Chácara del Castilho, Fernão Cardim and Vidigal ) in two ways. The first point of access was through individuals recommended by the social worker team of the FB project POUSO and the second access point was through random selection (via walks in the neighborhoods) in the community selected for analysis (favelas). Given the nature of the questions (security), all interviews in this last group were performed in the community members’ homes in their communities, in an attempt to ensure that each individual felt safe and comfortable in the environment of the interview. One third of the interviewees were between the ages of 25 to 44 and the rest ranged from 45 to 65+. The focus of this paper on events that happened more than 15 years ago determined the mature nature of the interviewees. Two thirds of the interviews in this group were women. More than 80% of the interviewees, since they had arrived to the neighborhood, had lived in the same house where they were interviewed. The interviewees who did not fit this category actually had been relocated as result of the FB implementation that required their old residence to be demolished. At least half of them consider themselves as founders of the neighborhood and able to narrate the entire history of their community. For a more detailed characterization of the interviewees, see Appendix 1.
If urban upgrading programs are designed to close the gap between the formal city and the informal settlements (Riley et. al. 2001 and Samper 2010), and to close the informal settlements’ “distance” from the formal social and repressive structures of the city which permit informal structures of security and power (gangs, pandillas, combos, narco-traffickers) to proliferate (Betancur 2007), then it should be possible to measure how interventions by the formal state in these informal settlements affect the structures of informal security. I am interested in seeing if the interventions by the formal state increased or decreased the perception of security in the neighborhoods.
I chose this research focus on perceptions for two main reasons: (1) It is not clear that the reduction in homicide rates in Rio (from 78 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 1994 to 50 in 2008), is a result of policies of urban upgrading, and (2) because as in the case of Medellin (Samper 2010), fluctuation in these rates does not necessarily match perceptions at the neighborhood level.
Furthermore this study is interested in understanding if there is any relationship between perceptions of security and other changes in the neighborhood context (spatial, political, policy, participatory or economical), as observed by the residents. And, finally, I seek to understand if these changes are indeed the ones performed by the FB project or not.
Case Selection and Unit of Analysis
I selected the Favela-Bairro (FB) project as the first project of its kind and a case well regarded in the literature of urban upgrading as a best practice. FB has been used as a model to be followed not only in Brazil, but also in other contexts where similar social and physical conditions in informal settlements exist. In this way, Favela-Bairro represents an “extreme case or a unique case” (Yin 2009). This research does not intend to evaluate efficiency in the FB project; instead this research focuses on understanding the “how” practices fully implemented during the FB modified perceptions of security, in which a single-case methodology of research is appropriate.
The unit of analysis is the project Favela-Bairro, executed from the year 1994 to 2000 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Favela-Bairro Project (FB) neighborhood upgrading programmes project executed by the municipality of Rio de Janeiro aimed to integrated the favelas into the formal fabric of the city through four interconnected projects: (1) Completion of basic urban infrastructure like water, sewer, electricity and waste disposal; (2) physical urban reconfiguration of the favela through new street grids ordering and public buildings such as nurseries and community centers; (3) provision of social services of income generation and training programs and (4) legalization of land tenure. Since 1994 to the present this project has been implemented in 148 favelas and is one of the largest slum-upgrading programs implemented to date in Latin America (Riley 2001). The FB received financial and technical support from the International Development Bank (IDB) that financed 50% the project and provided standards for intervention in each favela.
Given that each favela is so different and that the projects vary in scale and scope and that plans for all FB projects were developed by 15 different architectural firms selected via competition, I selected three favelas as embedded units (favelas) inside of the FB project. I selected these embedded units because they are considered in FB literature as the poster children of success in terms of fulfilling the FB project goals and are therefore considered to be examples to follow. These favelas are also the FB projects where the most information is available and accessible.
This research methodology compares opinions of the executors of projects vs. perceived effects of those projects by the community it is in no way a comprehensive evaluation of the project, which would require a more extensive survey of all interventions. These favelas projects selected represent FB proclaimed successful examples of the strategies implemented by the municipality and thus it is assumed that if you find negative reactions of the community it is not (just) because of incorrect implementation of the projects but rather reflects genuine observations and experiences within the objectives of the overall project.

Constructs as analytical theory
To operationalize the concept of quality of life improvement by urban upgrading projects I divided my analysis of the FB project into two large analytical categories. (a) One category evaluates the effectiveness of the multi-sectoral (policy and project) urban upgrading program using the seven criteria proposed by Riley et al (2001). This criteria Riley decanted from the consensus in the literature regarding poverty alleviation (UNDP 1992, Recife Declaration 1996, DFID 1997, Vanderschueren et al. 1996, and World Bank 2000 and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 2000). This criteria has seven policy categories: (1) the understanding of poverty as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, (2) a multi-sectoral approach at both project and policy levels, (3) a revived interest in the design of the urban space (public spaces and buildings), (4) the idea that the problem of poverty needs to be addressed at the scale of the entire city, (5) the participation of both public and private institutions in the development of the projects, (6) measures of state reform and finally (7) the inclusion of the community as a participant in the transformation of their environment and in the general democratization process of the country. These criteria help me to assess the concrete scale of the FB project and its physical interventions in relationship to the political and institutional framework in which the interventions are implemented. These criteria also permit me to compare how those evaluations have changed after a decade. (b) The second category evaluates those changes created by the FB project and compares those changes with changes in perceptions of security. I also chose these criteria because they were, in part created based on interviews that Riley et. al. conducted ten years ago with Rio community residents and municipality officials involved in the FB project. It is unclear from the literature, which specific FB project communities and which specific residents Riley et. al. studied 10 years ago. I also add to this method of interviewing community residents and municipal leaders, interviews with each of the architects who led the projects at these three favelas. In this way, my research adds a third analytical dimension to this perspective. My own experience as an architect, and as one who has worked on informal settlements in Latin America, informs these interviews and my analysis of them.

3. Urban Upgrading and Violence in Rio de Janeiro: Understanding perceptions of violence inside three favelas
1. Mutisectoral urban upgrading
In this section, to evaluate the FB project I borrow the framework used by Riley et. al. (2001) in their analysis of the FB project. I do this because it is the result of a consensus on policies and practices of this new typology of urban upgrading programs and second because it provides a base from which to compare the project 10 years since its inception. From the seven criteria listed above, this research focuses on: (1) favela economy and poverty alleviation, (2) projects and policy as multi-sectoral and public private partnerships, (3) design and public space, (4) state reform, (5) participation and democratization. Each one of these scales is used as criteria evaluated by each one of the groups (experts and community) identified in the methodology section.
Table 1 Comparison of Riley et.al (2001) constructs to evaluate the FB project and the interpretation of how this paper is employing such constructs.
Riley et. al. (2001) This Paper
The FB concepts of poverty and the poor 1.1 Economy and poverty alleviation
FB projects and policy as multisectoral 1.2 Projects and policy as multisectorial and public private partnerships
Design and the use of public space in FB 1.3 Design and public space
The scale of FB 1.4 State Reform

Public-private partnerships in FB 1.5 Participation and Democratization

FB in the context of State Reform

Participation in FB and the democratization of the state.

1.1. Economy and poverty alleviation
The consensus in the urban upgrading literature is that the main objective of this type of project is coping with alleviating poverty. Many studies had evaluated the FB project in economic terms. Soares and Soares (2005, 41) concluded that economic indicators such as rent and property values according to the data that they had available “have not produced evidence that the program has significantly improved the quality of life of residents”.
However, interviews with FB project residents in Riley et. al. (2001) and during my research both account for positive responses of community members about increments in both quality of life and on economical indicators. All interviews point out that present living conditions of the neighborhood are better today than they were before the interventions of the FB project. All interviews with both community residents and experts also narrate how changes in the provision of appropriate sewer, water and the pavement and creation of new roads contributed significantly to the improvement of their communities. They also provided accounts on how such infrastructural provisions diminished the negative effects of environmental risk in their communities such as floods or landslides. Community interviewees point out how this kind of state investment also permitted community members access to further investment on their units both in terms of quality (with the addition of better and more stable materials) and sizes (the addition of more floors to increase square footage).
To what extent these infrastructure improvements have increased economical gains and reduced the poverty levels in these communities is still up for debate, but in general an analysis of property values in the targeted favelas of the FB showed that housing values increased between 30 and 60 percent over the lifetime of the first phase of the project (Soares and Soares 2005).
During my sites visits I was able to collect visual records that exist only in the favelas and that show the favelas before and after the FB project and also the way the areas look today (2011) See ¡Error! No se encuentra el origen de la referencia.figure 2. These images show how units had been refurbished to include more permanent materials, improving not only spatial conditions but also the add-on of personal and esthetical elements. These images specifically map streets in the favela Fernão Cardim, before and after the implementation of the project as it stands today.
These images provide evidence of the continuous process of improvement of housing units. If it is true that all informal settlements units are constantly improved, then I conclude that there is collusion between perceived tenure security and the effects of infrastructure improvements. This collusion of tenure security and infrastructure improvements come as part of the FB project that reduced the environmental fragility of these communities, which finally provided a favorable contribution to the life conditions and the perceived economical status and thus overall quality of life or the residents.

Figure 2 Favela Fernão Cardim before Favela-Bairro, in the 1990s after implementation and today (2011). Sources: Associação de Moradores F.C., POUSO and Jota Samper

1.2. Projects and policy as multisectoral and public private partnerships
One key factor of the FB projects is how the process of what in Brazil is called urbinização favela or “favela urbanization” had created conditions for institutional growth both in the public and private sector in Rio de Janeiro, and how this growth had positive effects on the quality of life of informal settlements in Rio de Janeiro. In 1994, the municipality of Rio de Janeiro created a new municipal institution called the Secretaria Municipal de Habitação (SMH) whose task was to solve the growing problem of informality in the city of Rio. The SMH director is Sergio Magalhães, a renowned architect in Brazil. Usually, as in the case of Medellin, the municipality creates a new department that designs, builds and executes all the projects. In this way, the municipality controls this part of the implementation of this project. It is important to point out that the director of the municipal department for urban upgrading in Medellin was an also architect, Alejandro Echevarria. As a strategy to decenter municipal control, the group who formed the SMH decided in the early months after the SMH’s creation that this institution would control the projects necessary for the foreseen “urbanizations” of favelas but would not perform all the technical and professional work necessary for this task. Instead, an open competition was used to select 15 firms (because the initial goal was to develop 15 favelas). These 15 firms would later become the pool of firms selected to be hired to intervene in all the FB 140 urbanized favelas.
After more than 16 years, this strategy has successfully generated a multiplicity of local firms with specific knowledge of how to physically intervene in the environment of informal settlements. This strategy decentralizes state functions and instead puts them in private companies, without losing control of the process. This process has created today in Rio de Janeiro more than 100 firms (architects, civil and infrastructure engineers, social workers, construction companies and lawyers) that specialize in the process of intervening in informal settlements. All this capacity growth has occurred without having to increase the size of staff of the SHM since its inception. This institutional private and public growth is unique to Rio urban upgrading practices and maybe one of the most important institutional strategies that needs to be understood to implement these practices in other geographies.
On the other hand, I found that most of the community residents I interviewed had lost contact with the institutions of the state that have made the project possible. Most of them remember the group of architects who lead the process but did not mention the secretaria (SMH) as a key participant of the process. During my interviews with them, they narrate how community members leading the Associação de Moradores or the Mayor himself was a protagonist of the key moments. On community member said,
The mayor Luis Paulo Conde delivered the project in a [community] meeting… the first meeting was in 1993 in a locale for parties. This meeting was with all the inhabitants of the neighborhood and they [the planners form the SHM] and the president of the Associação de Moradores explained that the favela would continue and about everything that will happen.
Today the only vestige of the state presence in their communities is the POUSO, an SMH project created to physically survey the communities in preparation for the legalization process. Today this last vestige of municipal presence is an underfunded project that struggles to even maintain the small facilities that the FB projects built 16 years ago. With all the benefits that this office seems to bring to the community, the lack of funding and interconnection with other state functions that could benefit the community undermine the idea of this institutional physical vestige as an important and relevant presence of the state in these long abandoned communities.

Figure 3 POUSO Posto de Orientação Urbanística e Social in Chácara Del Castilho and Fernão Cardim. Source:Tânia Lima D’Albuquerque e Castro.

1.3 Design and public space
One of the most important contributions of the FB project is the renewed interest in spatial process as a way to deal with problems of urban informality. Fiori and Brandao (2010, 183) argue that over the years “there has been a growing de-specialization of slum upgrading strategies” resulting from the critique of the modern and traditional “spatially deterministic approaches throughout the world.” In contrast, since the 1990s, along with new practices of urban upgrading that incorporate multi-sectoral approaches, a call for this practice that is echoed by Caroline Moser (1995, 161). This call from Moser and others critique single-sector approaches to urban upgrading practices that deal with issues of poverty alleviation. There is then, recognition today of the important role that design disciplines have had in improving the spatial dimensions of slums (Garau et al. 2005, UN-Habitat 2003). This renewed focus on physical design (a tool that was abandoned) dwells not only on the qualitative and positivistic value of the physical components of it but also on the less tangible “symbolic power of architecture” as Manuel Castells (2005,59) called it:
Restoring symbolic meaning is a fundamental task in a metropolitan world in a crisis of communication. This is the role that architecture has traditionally assumed. It is more important than ever.
This is, in my conception, why projects all over Latin America are relying on architecture’s communicative power as propaganda of the political apparatus. This apparatus propagates the message that through its urban projects, the state (local and national) is bridging that “distance” between state and the communities that have suffered from this distance. Evidence of this is the multiplicity of architectural projects selected by Felipe Hernandez (2010) as representative of a new design trend in Latin American architecture. Herandez writes:
Each one of the six buildings examined in this chapter is a punctual insertion into the convoluted urban fabric of informal settlements (slums). Although all are modest in scale…These buildings are examples of a renewed interest in Latin America to improve the conditions of life in poor settlements through the insertion of small and medium size structures which provide facilities needed by local communities.
In this example we see the traditional role of architecture as a tool to substantiate the “good deeds" of the state in the area where the state had always or previously been absent. On the other hand, this change in the scale and typology of projects represents the state change in political approach to those underrepresented communities that inhabit the slums in Latin American cities. This change is not only happening at the physical scale of projects, but also in the policies and planning processes that accompanied those projects.
Combining Diane Davis’s concept of “distance” and Manuel Castell’s concept of using the symbolic power of physical interventions of projects like the FB, help us to see the public buildings and public space (and the programs that they house) interventions not only as positivistic indicators that can be measured in terms of geographic, and institutional distance, but also as dialectical tools that intervene with those two other less tangible categories of cultural and class distance.
This section explores the roles that design and the creation of public space and infrastructure play in the changes of quality of life and security in favelas upgraded by the FB project. I examine opinions of experts and community on the value of such projects. The FB program included a multiplicity of physical projects that, to name a few, included: daycare facilities, roads and public plazas. Each of the 15 architectural firms approached the projects in 140 favelas according to their own standards as well as the criteria of the municipality’s technocrats. So, the implementation of these projects involved a mix of divergent (architectural firms) and more standardized approaches (municipality). But in my opinion, all FB projects followed the same three formal strategies of favela “urbanization” to address integration of the favela with the larger urban environment in the city.
To achieve this goal, an existing street (or group of streets) is selected to be the spine of each favela project. First, this street usually connects the interior of the favela to a network of streets on the outside in the city at large (functionally and symbolically reconnecting the community to its larger urban context). This street serving as the spine of the project in each favela is usually accessible to both pedestrian and vehicle transportation. This spine becomes the preferable armature along which other main projects such as public spaces and buildings will be situated. Second, all other streets are paved or when the topography does not permit paving, become stair paths. Sewers are installed under the entire mobility infrastructure (very typical to a traditional street). Third, houses located in the path of new roads or in high environmental risk areas are removed and their inhabitants relocated in the infill housing projects in any available land inside the perimeter of the favela. The diagrams for the FB Project for Fernão Cardim by the architectural office of Jorge Mario Jáuregui and a similar diagram in the favela Chacara Del Castilho by the architectural firm Arqui Traco Cooperativa are examples of such a spatial strategy. See figures 4 and 5.

Figure 4 Jorge Mario Jáuregui Diagrams (areal, sketch and project plan) of FERNÃO CARDIM. Source: Favela - Bairro Uma outra historia da
cidade do Rio de janeiro.

Figure 5 Arqui Traco Cooperativa Diagrams of Chacara Del Castilho. Source: Favela - Bairro Uma outra historia da ciudade do Rio de janeiro.

This physical structural logic as a tool for city integration and security is also confirmed by Riley et.al. (2001, 527), who argues that the design in the FB projects fulfills a mission of “breaking” an existing order as a way to connect the formal city to the informal one:
New roads, squares, buildings and facilities are designed to break down the barriers that have long divided favelas from the rest of the city, ultimately enabling people who have never before entered a favela to drive through the settlements, visit cultural events in the favelas, or make use of their commerce.
New roads are intended to improve access for emergency services; new social facilities and services are intended to make residents re-evaluate their opinion off the state and of themselves as citizens’ entitled to equal treatment; and new community spaces are intended as means to diminish the domain of the traffickers.
Furthermore, Riley et.al. (2001) affirmed that the process of connection dismantled the formal barriers of protection that perverse organizations had constructed to “protect their territory from police and formal gangs.” However, Riley et. Al. (2001) also points out that contrary to these project assertions, residents also saw this strategy as making them more vulnerable to aggression by the state:
some residents worry that the new roads and public spaces created by the Favela Bairro will not diminish the power of drug traffickers and instead only serve to increase police repression of innocent residents by improving access to their homes. (Riley et.al. 2001, 527)
Today (2011) the responses of planners and politicians interviewed about these direct connections between the modification of the formal space of the favela and the changes in conditions of security are more tacit (if not total denial). Increasing levels of power by criminal organizations could be part of this change of opinions (and objectives and conclusions about the effectiveness of the project) by the same group of people that Riley et. al (2001) interviewed in 2001. In my interviews in 2011, the discussions of the expert group focused on abstract ideals of favela integration with the formal city and leave the direct discussion of public space as a tool for crime control, which they see as a problem that needs to be resolved by other organizations. The direct connection between public space and control of perverse organizations has receded.
Specifically, the experts I interviewed placed a lot of importance on issues surrounding design and in understanding how architectural methodologies are employed in informal settlements in Rio de Janeiro. Architects especially put a lot of importance on the provision of public space as a fundamental tool in the idea of favela integration with the rest of the city. Public space is equated with public participation in the larger political system of the city. They see their role as designers in terms of being readers of the existing physical form and functions of the favelas and based upon that initial reading they add the new infrastructures that create outcomes that improve the conditions of all inhabitants. Little discussion is expended on technical issues of the provision of sewer and other technical infrastructures.
One important characteristic of this rhetoric of integration in the FB that borrows language form Henri Lefebvre and David Harvey’s “Right to the City,” is that this newly acquired right is accepted and recognized, just as long it is still less than the right of the citizens of the formal city. Many of the issues that architects, planners and politicians I interviewed had with IDB demands centered around the fact that the IDB specifications of the infrastructure required to be incorporated in the favelas exceeded the standards used in similar projects in the formal city. Former Rio de Janeiro Mayor Cesar Maia for example, explained:
The daycare facilities for example are of really high quality, even when compared with middle and upper class facilities. This for me is an exaggeration of the IDB. Demanding that type of quality for a daycare when the middle and higher classes do not have access to that quality. With larger spaces, kitchens… but then that was performed in accordance with the contract with the IDB.
The same kind of rhetoric is used regarding the scale (importance) of the projects (city vs. neighborhood) in interviews I had with an architect who participated in the same FB project. His view was that the high quality and city scale spaces and public buildings should be located outside of the favela because if you place those infrastructures inside people (from the outside) will be afraid to go there and the people from the favelas will not come out of their spaces. The argument is that such spaces and structures should be placed outside the favelas to force people from the favelas to “interact with the city.” In this rhetoric of project program selection, I found two important issues: (1) the affirmation that no matter what happens, the favelas continue to be treated as abstractions by the planners, politicians and architects designing and implementing the projects. As a result these territories will continue to be marginalized even after they are urbanized (“integrated” by the project). And more outrageous is that (2) the outside/inside rhetoric frames this population (the favelados) as undeserving of the high quality standards that this new generation of project is supposed to give.
So in terms of Castells’s “symbolic power of architecture” as a tool for the state to bride the “distance” form these segregated communities, I found that in the case of the FB, the arguments work just as long as they don’t get too “close.” This for me explains a series of findings when visiting projects in some of the most publicized FB favelas. One was that I was surprised by the small scale of public projects. The offices of the POUSO for example, the building that represents the state and that supervises the tenure legalizations process and controls further encroachments in the urbanized favelas, were no bigger in scale than the houses that they were supervising. The POUSO did not have the scale of a building of the state and was in most cases minimally occupied (the space was shared by other uses of commercial organizations or NGOs). This reinforced the narrative of communities and experts I interviewed that once the projects were concluded the state left again and with that the improvement done started to deteriorate. Today some of the FB upgraded favelas are considered (by the state) as once again having no “urbanization” because this process of abandonment has deteriorated the infrastructure already developed.
On the other hand the community members, when asked about the significance of the projects developed by the FB in their communities, placed them in the following hierarchy: (1) they deem the paving of the streets the most important projects, (2) along with other public services, such as sewer provision; (3) public buildings, such as daycare facilities, computer rooms and finally, (4) public spaces, which are relegated to less important place and more often absent from community interviews responses.
It is clear from my own site visits and from the interviewees’ accounts the important role that street paving plays in improving the everyday life of communities. Beyond the sanitary conditions and aesthetic value, the increases in mobility of community members and foreigners are constantly mentioned in interviews as a sign that conditions today are much better than they were before. This remains the case even when that mobility brings with it the negative effects of facilitating access of perverse organizations (and also the repressive tactics of the state) to their communities.
Contrary to my critique that the expert rhetoric about favela integration (the goal of the FB) did not match with the quality and scale of public projects (buildings and spaces that represent the state of not being of sufficient quality and scale equated with state own projects), communities manifest satisfaction with the quality of the projects implemented. They measure success of the project in terms of their perception of increases of property values and mobility. They focus their critique not on the type of projects or the design and building process, but instead on the state abandonment that came later with the new projects’ lack of maintenance. The community members said they wanted the state to return and attend to the maintenance.
In conclusion, the state uses most of these interventions (physical architectural) as a publicity strategy to acquire political capital through the use of visible physical projects. The goal of equality (integration) that comes as a justification of those projects is not really achieved because at the end these projects, as vast as they appear, are really minimal and just barely approximate projects implemented in the formal city. Today there is a need to ramp up the scale and quality of FB projects if the goal is to achieve a real integration with the formal city. The goal of real integration of favela and neighborhood should work both ways—it should bring more people (from the formal city) to the inside of the favela, and not only as the interviews with experts show, to get (those poor and segregated) people out of the favelas.
1.4 State Reform
The change in the political system of the late 80s and early 90s in Brazil did not permit state and municipalities to address issues of informality in the same way that had been done before and during the dictatorship. In essence, the massive evictions and relocation of the years preceding and during the dictatorship were not politically or socially acceptable anymore and this pushed the national government to generate controls that protected vulnerable populations (at least in the constitution) and at the same time that built institutional capacity (like the laws that require each city to implement a city plan). In Rio de Janeiro, this national and local political change opened the opportunity to create new ways to approach the problem of urban informality. One of those developments of state reform is the ideas around land tenure that have been part of the FB project provision of tenure to informal settlers. This issue has been, from the standpoint of legal literature, explored at length by Edesio Fernandes (2000, 2006, 2007 and 2010).
The FB project has in theory integrated all the practices of tenure legalization implemented in Brazil. The granting of titles to informal settlements is the result of a consensus among international development agencies inspired by De Soto’s theory that tapping into the capital that is locked in the land informal communities occupied would generate income. In Rio de Janeiro, the processes of giving legal tenure to informal communities has been complex, hindered by national regulations (Fernandes 2007) and the ineffectiveness of state organizations that are supposed to perform this labor. There is a national law in Brazil that prohibits state agencies from donating land to individuals. This, in turn, hinders the state from giving land titles to individuals living in informal communities. To maneuver around this national law, state governments throughout Brazil have created a multiplicity of strategies to grant different levels of occupation, ranging from the state formally allowing individuals to live on the land to actually granting tenure to occupants who live not on state-owned but private land. Many authors have pointed out the inefficiencies of the process (Handzic 2010 , De Sousa 2001 and 2004).
During my field research, I worked closely for a few days shadowing one active member’s work in the Urban and Social Orientation Centers (Posto de Orientação Urbanistica e Social, or POUSO). The work that the POUSO does is a crucial step for the process of tenure legalization. I also interviewed the founder of POUSO. During my interviews I became aware that different communities (favelas) have different approaches towards the need of tenure legalization. In some of them it seem that there was not a sense of urgency on the subject, while in others during tours with POUSO officials, community members would constantly ask about how the process was advancing or what steps or requirements they needed to do to be part of the project of regularization or to include their units in such a process. Further research is necessary to determine why communities (in this case two that were really similar and geographically close to each other) could have such different approaches toward security of tenure. One hypothesis that could describe such differences is that the only thing that distinguishes both is that the one in which regularization seems to be an issue of importance is the favela dominated by militia groups. The FB projects in the three favelas where I conducted fieldwork, have been completed for at least 10 years.
In general what was clear for me from official responses is that the process of land regularization was not yet in an implementation stage. After more than a decade since the FB began working in these favelas, and much has been written about the benefits and critiques of the regularization process in Rio de Janeiro during the FB project, the truth seems to be that none of the favelas I visited have been granted land tenure. All changes and implementation had happened at the regulatory and political arenas (Fernandes 2007) but communities still have not seen real tangible results in terms of land tenure from those processes. According to my interview with Luis Paulo, the architect who runs three of the POUSOs, including the one in the community where I studied, the reason that these three communities do not have land tenure is because the state is still conducting surveys of the homes in these communities.
It is important to point out, however, what scholars have noted: that as a result of the FB project, there has been some movement regarding if not land tenure itself, at least an increased level of security on informally occupied land. This is through what is called certificates of occupation known as “certidão do habite-se” (which translates literally as Ok To Occupy certificate). These certificates of occupation, as Perlman (2010) points out, affirm an “increased sense of legitimacy” among the community members regarding their land occupation.

1.5 Participation and Democratization
Many authors (Riley et al, 2001, Zaluar 1985, 1998, 218–20; Gay 1994, 31, 40–41; Leeds 1996, 74) critique the FB projects; performance in soliciting input from the community and in integrating local views into their policy formulation. Riley et. al. (2001) concludes that
affect the conflict These However, these assessments are mostly based on success criteria generated by academic experts looking from the outside. In contrast, I explored the results of community participation in this project from the perspective of the community itself. Using a series of interviews from professional experts involved in the process, and from citizens involved the process, this study tries to understand how the community perceived the process of participation. I compared the results of the two groups of interviews to the conclusions reached by prior studies (Riley et al, 2001, Zaluar 1985). I found that the professional experts more or less agreed with Riley and Zaluar’s academic assessments that the participation process was lacking real input from the community. The experts executing the projects had preconceptions about what levels of participation could be reached and which methodologies were more practical to be implemented in these contexts. These preconceptions were, in the end, reflected in the marginalized and limited participation of the community in the modification of the environment that they had created with their own hands.
In general the level of participation reached by the communities in the FB project was only in terms of being informed by state and by FB leaders from outside their communities. Project components were determined by architects, engineers, planners, politicians and international agencies, giving small space for communities to make significant contributions to the overall project or the implementation of it in their own community. At the same time communities in Rio in the post dictatorship era were more concerned with forced relocation and expulsions than with the details (including their role in the participation process) of public space. In an interview I conducted with Solange Libman, one the principals of Arquitraco, an architectural firm that participated in the FB project, illustrates this lack of community input in a context of post dictatorship fear:
We [the architectual firm] informed the community what was going to happen. But these meetings were more like project presentations [than a meeting to gather input]. There were a lot of doubts about what was going to happen. At that time there was the big specter hovering around the idea of favela evictions. So people do not believe that this project was going to happen. This was the same issue during the 15 years of the project. In general these communities did not have an interest in public [public space: plazas, new streets, parks, etc]. It was always more about the fear of the destruction of the private… if my house [the houses] stays everything else that you [the architect] do is ok.

I expected to find that the citizen’s group would confirm the inadequacies of the process and be critical of the program, given that communities were just informed of the development of the project, and that the participation tools were minimal and controlled in such a top down manner that it did not permit the community to really have any significant influence over the project. Contrary to this, however, I found in my interviews that community members actually do not seem to perceive this limitation. They felt that large meetings to vote about the acceptance of the project in the favelas or meetings to inform about the scope of the project, along with the promise of not being evicted were sufficient levels of participation. Community members seemed to be more inclined to accept the results with little questioning of the process. In fact, in their view, the process was successful. A community member in Fernão Cardim exemplifies the kinds of responses I received during my interviews with other community members:
There were general meetings with everybody that was a wonderful thing. The Mayor came to deliver the project. The first reunion was in 1993 [1994] and this meeting was attended by all the community and they [the FB representatives] explained that the favela would continue [to exist and not be destroyed]. The president of the [of the AM] explained all that was going to happen. Everything that they said that was going to happen really happened.

I conclude that—as in the case of the participation in the urban upgrading program in Medellin (Samper, 2010)—what was important was not the achievement of real participation as measured by outside expectations, but that for the first time the communities felt that in some way they there were recognized and legitimized as a community that should stay by the city officials, and that just the attempt to inform the communities that they would not be expelled and at the same time to communicate that their environment somehow will be enhanced, created a positive participation aura. In reality, this is what might be called the first step in Arnstein’s “ladder of citizen participation.” While modest, it was a radical improvement after an almost decade-long urban "authoritarian regime" (Fernandes, 1998) during the years of the dictatorship between 1964 and 1985. All policies of low-income housing were directed toward evictions and relocation. Furthermore, Edesio Fernandes concludes that “The urban population was virtually excluded from the process of decision making on urban questions at all levels, especially in the nine formal metropolitan regions, which were administered in a blatantly authoritarian fashion from 1973 to 1988”. This further explains perhaps why the community members felt that there was adequate participation and democratization. Even today, during the publicizing of the Morar Carioca project in Rio de Janeiro, these communities are more concerned with a return of the policies of relocation than with the scope and process of the project.
The international partners and their influence on the levels of participation.
The FB was sponsored by the International Development Bank (IDB) that provided the municipality of Rio de Janeiro with a loan for 50 percent of the total cost of the FB projects and the other 50 percent was funded directly by the municipality. The IDB provided some of the expertise on urban upgrading and established specific goals for each project, such as maximum percentages of families to be relocated and the requirement for public services as daycare facilities to be included in each neighborhood. These goals and standards were developed through a long process of learning from different international practices, and were applied in a standardized way to neighborhood upgrading projects across Rio. It seems from the perspective of my interviewees that those standards had unexpected effects at the scale of the FB, since they narrowed the already limited levels of potential for participation in the planning of each community. Furthermore, these IDB standards continue to have negative consequences on the urban upgrading projects being executed today (PAC) and in the future (Morar Carioca) in Rio de Janeiro, in the sense that projects executed after the FB ones leave virtually no room for communities to be involved in the design of their environment.
The original FB process resulted from an acknowledgment that the low income housing practices of the years of the dictatorship had failed and that a new set of practices were needed. Until the end of the dictatorship in Brazil, it was generally accepted in media and by the laws and actions of the state that the favelas were transitory settlements. And as such, newly constructed, permanent neighborhoods were needed to house these populations. With the transition to democracy and the failure of such permanent housing practices a new political vision was imposed on the city. (United Nations Earth Summit 1992, Fernandes 2000, 2007). The new Constitution of 1988 opened the possibility to see the informal settlements (favelas) as permanent environments and communities.
The favelas stopped being perceived as temporary shelters for a marginalized population. Instead, favelados started to be seen in some intellectual circles as “worthy citizens” and political slogans added to their legitimacy as part of the city, recalling David Harvey’s ideas of the “the right to the city”. As a result of this political and ideological change, the failures of previous practices, and the interest of the new political leaders to distance from the practices of the dictatorship, the idea of relocating communities was no longer viable and the municipality looked for new approaches. One of the first approaches was the “Projeto Mutirão” executed by the social secretary (Secretaria Municipal de Desenvolvimento Social) of the city of Rio.
The “Proyecto Mutirao” used labor in the communities (favelas) to improve physical conditions (paving, roads, sewer, water) at a small scale. Using the lessons of this project, the team that helped to implement these practices, became the initial group that invented the FB program. The former Rio de Janeiro Mayor Cesar Maia explains:
In Mutirao Remunerado the government buys the construction materials and the community builds. With this method, the engineers guide the urbanizations of favelas in a small scale (stairs, sewer, etc). It is the knowledge gained from this project that gives birth to the Favela Bairro project.
The team that initiated the Favela Bairro was put together with people who had already been working in Mutirao and with architects like the director Sergio Magalhães, according to Maia. This team formed the new SMH. This group formed as a response of an IDB support initiative that offered the mayor and the municipality to collaborate in a new experiment in the urbanization of favelas. The mayor initiated an in-house municipal process to create the institutional infrastructure to build on the learned experiences of the mutirao and apply them at a large scale. One thing that became clear during the interviews with the multiple teams that worked on the FB is that the implementation of the FB project started before the IDB had officially approved support for the project. Sérgio Ferraz Magalhães said in an interview that, “We signed the contract with the IDB at the end of 1995 but began working on Favela-Barrio in 1993 and in that way we had two years of work with our own funds.”
This gap permitted the municipality some autonomy in defining the scope and nature of the project. For example, at beginning of the project, obtaining consensus and buy-in from the community was paramount (very different to the practices after the signage of the contract with the IDB). All of the 15 architectural and development teams selected for improvement projects signed a contract which required them to site a branch of their offices in the community to develop the project along with the community. Furthermore, they would be paid only after the community approved their plans in a public meeting. Architects I interviewed who were a part of this initial face-to-face experience talk about their work as being a mix between architecture and activism. They considered themselves as political figures inside of the communities. Jorge Mario Jáuregui, architect working in several favelas explains this period before the changes in the rules.
[I]n the Favela Bairro, I had a really direct relationship with the people. I was almost a political militant. My project was required to be approved [by the community] at the public meeting and if the project did not get approved there, the state would not pay me… this worked really well during the first years of the FB . . . my position was almost like a political one. Just that I was not there with [the flag of] any political party. My cause was the socio-spatial.
Members of the expert group I interviewed described a later moment in the process where the IDB, became involved in the project. They identify two important changes that occurred: (1) the in-favela architectural offices were removed and the projects, along with the need for approval by the community of the project, and (2) now some new regulation and standards were dictated by the IDB based on their international metrics rather than by discretion of the secretary or the architects or ultimately the community. Because the new IDB demands shifted the priorities, time and resources of the FB, the FB had to remove the architectural offices from the favelas because it was no longer a priority. Adhering to the IDB demands replaced the focus on community buy-in as a priority. As a recurrent example, architects, planners and politicians seem to be outraged by requirements for a specific type of daycare facilities at each site.
Beyond whether the facilities demanded by the IDB were pertinent or not, what I argue is important to discern is that this intervention by the international lending agency appears to have started a retreat in the democratization of the process of urbanization of the favelas in Rio, a retreat that continues until the present. Today, for example, (May 2011) the new Morar Carioca project, a percentage of which is funded IDB funded and already under design does not have a process for community participation, even when architectural offices have already been selected and working for the past four months. From the moment the IDB became involved, it became clear that the people leading the projects view the community members and their associations as less capable of making decisions regarding their own needs than they did at the beginning of the FB projects. From the moment the IDB became involved, communities are informed of what will happen and little to no resistance is encountered in that process.
The top down approach
Much has been written (Riley et. al. 2001, Fernandes 2010, Arias 2004) about the lack of social participation and civil society’s loss of power to challenge or engage with the state in structural changes that affect the communities where they live. The example of how Associacão de Moradores (AM) as a local governance institution lost its legitimacy as representing the community’s interest because it had been controlled by the interest of perverse organizations is one that becomes recurrent in many descriptions (Arias 2004). In general, I agree with most of these perspectives.
I conclude that the initial pre-IDB process of buy-in by the community, even as top down as it was, provided a system of leverage of low income community against agents (perverse) in their own communities. An interview in one the FB favelas is a good example of such process. Two soccer fields in the middle of the area of the favela were used as a business meeting place for a local arms dealer. At the beginning, it seemed to the AM director and the architects leading the project that any attempt to change this area would be blocked by the dealer. However, the design of the proposed project called for retail and housing facilities to be constructed in this area along with some provision for public space. The representative of the (Secretaria Municipal de Habitação – SMH) suggested a buy-in negotiation process. Before the final approval meeting, he devised a strategy in which he divided the community into income brackets and met from the lowest income to the highest in a way intended to guarantee a “winning coalition” that would provide large numbers of supporters. Each time, this coalition would meet with a more economically well off group that had become more economically viable after creating pacts that had increased the number of supporters and eventually become more powerful. Finally, following such strategies, seemingly against all odds, the community approved the project during the final meeting. The project was then implemented in its totality without the disruption of the arms dealer.
Besides the clear manipulation by the state actors (the planners who directed the community negotiations) this community meeting’s outcome—something very common in these type of projects (Samper 2010)—what is clear here is that the same elements of community participation strategy empowered the community to peacefully overcome a perverse actor.
Following IDB involvement, this process of community buy-in has now become handicapped. There is simply no avenue for community buy-in to the program or projects. The process has been transformed mainly into an information strategy (this is the project that the SMH will implement in your community). This is a step down in the Arnstein’s “ladder of citizen participation.” The community now has to protest a project to be able to communicate their own interest. For example, in one of the projects an architect wanted to create a public plaza in the area of an old soccer field, but the community resisted. As a result of community protest, a plebiscite was held and the community idea prevailed. This case was exposed in my interviews as an example of the democratization of the process. In my opinion, this is proof that the process had changed and that the community had the need to establish opposition strategies in order to have a say in the how the project should be. If the initial process had been continued, such issues would have been resolved in the early stages and not become a conflict between architect and community. In addition, the plebiscite would have been part of the process and not an extraordinary case.

2 Urban Upgrading and Security
This section identifies ways that those in the expert and those in the community group perceived ways that the FB projects influenced security and changes of tactics and violent actors (perverse organizations) in the project areas. I identify differences between what the those in the expert and community groups emphasized and put all of this in conversation with Eduardo Rojas’s (2010) findings that urban upgrading projects in Latin America are seen as tools to protect vulnerable groups. My on-site interviews in Rio de Janeiro regarding perceptions of security focused on the following questions. What changes in security happened over time in the areas where the FB project was implemented in Rio de Janeiro? I attempted to learn if community members felt that security had changed over time in their communities and if they believed it had, did these changes have any correlation with the introduction of the FB project in their community? Individuals in the expert category responded to questions about their perception of the favela urbanization process and if they believed it had had any effect on security in these communities and if any of this was affected by the FB specifically. Community members were asked for their personal accounts and perceptions on the overall state of security in their communities.
Experts views on changes of security in relationship with projects
Individuals in this category focused on how security would improve if public areas were more occupied by people and if the design of public spaces concentrated on creating more dynamic public areas. In other areas they saw projects as just improving conditions in terms of accessibility, again feeding into the imaginary of an active public space as a more secure and “defensible space” (Newman, 1995). Most interviewees in this category deemed issues of security as not necessarily related with the physical project but with other state agencies whose task was the provision of state security (like the recently created Policia Pasificadora UPP). Some experts interviewed mentioned the negative aspects of state security forces entering the communities using repressive tactics. The architect Solange Bidman said:
Every time that we were working there in the favela and the police would enter [the favela] it was something really violent. … it was the way that they enter, sometimes you don’t know what is worse, the drug dealers or the police.
They also commented on how this kind of state repressive force, along with that of perverse organizations inside the community made the process of favela urbanization peformed by the FB, Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento (PAC) and the future Morar Carioca much more difficult. Continued Bidman:
We have had a lot of problems working, because of the war [between police and drug dealers]. At some point we had to stop working on a project in a favela for 140 days.

Perverse Organizations (PO)
In general there is a sentiment in the expert group that in the first stages of the FB the perverse organizations had a different impact on the resolution of the projects and that they were less interested or threatened then they are now by state interventions in what they consider their territories. Bidman added:
The system of the drug dealer has changed. Before they were [inhabitants] from the favela. Not any more, now it is a more universal system. Today the boss is not known in the favela and he does not respect the people in the favela.
Pedro da Luz Moreira, principal of Archi 5 Arquitectos, explained,
At the time of the FB there were drug dealers, but they were not as arrogant like the ones today… they had weapons but they were not of such high caliber and number as the ones today.
The consensus was that now in the present day, perverse organizations have changed their tactics and interest regarding favela urbanization projects and thus the state will now be required to develop new tactics to lessen perverse organizations’ influence on the future favela urbanization projects. Luis F. Valverde Salandia, Planning Manager of the Morar Carioca (MC) Project, explains the process of how to include the community in the MC projects under the current security conditions:
Now we are discussing which is the better system to do it [include the community], because before [in the FB] the best way was to include the neighborhood association [AM]. You would have a meeting and all would be perfect. But today some of those associations have been co-opted by the narcotraffic.
Perverse organizations are different from those that the FB found at the beginning, showing a change in the dynamic of violence and in the resilience tactics of the community and of these organizations. Placing my analysis of these interviews in the context of my research of violent actors in Rio de Janeiro, I argue that the most important change in the phenomenology of violence in these communities is that the perverse organizations today are not necessarily residents of the neighborhood. The “malandro” of the 80’s has been replaced by repressive franchises (milicias, Amigos dos Amigos ADA with Terceiro Comando and Comando Vermelho CO with Comando Vermelho Jovem CVJ, Terceiro Comando), that compete for areas of control. This idea of how perverse organizations in Rio de Janeiro have increased their intuitional sophistication as enterprises is supported by Juan Francisco Esteva Martinez (2008) in his account of the history of gangs in Rio. It is this change from malandro to franchise that current state organizations find difficult to grapple with. See Figure 6 . This distribution reveals ways that favelas are changing hands from one repressive organization to another and that these organizations see these areas as important for their economical and political subsistence.

Figure 6 These two maps show variation of control by what I call the” franchises” of narco-dictatorships between two mappings based on data from different sources (Vitor Abdal, Distribuição das facções criminosas pelas favelas da cidade do Rio de Janeiro and Fernando Gabeira, Mapa do Ocupação Territorial Armada no Rio) at two different times 2009 and 2010. It is clear that the four non-state armed actors fight for control over the favelas.
An example of the changes of perverse organizations’ tactics and the externalities of such actions are the changes in perceptions in the way the state perceives the community groups inside the favelas. In initial stages of the FB projects, the FB experts viewed the Resident Associations (Asociacion de Moradores AM), as part of a necessary partnership in the project buy-in process. The AMs from the first 16 FB favelas urbanized later formed a group that became a larger community voice as interlocutor between other communities in favelas in Rio de Janeiro and the state actors. This relationship of the AMs as interlocutor between the communities and the state, however, has disappeared (Arias 2004). Today the state considers the AMs as complicit with perverse organizations and as such, not trustworthy as the community leadership voice.
The state views itself as less capable than in earlier decades to engage with the communities, when the communities (in the state view) are controlled by armed actors. At the same time there are some mixed feelings from the expert group about how policies of controlling such actors like structural changes in the policing system in Rio like Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP) are really addressing the issues of security. The UPP, formed by the Rio de Janeiro state (Secretaria Estadual de Segurança Pública do Rio de Janeiro), is a new typology of communitarian police in the city dedicated to control security in favelas as a way to disarticulate the perverse organizations that control these territories. One of the remarkable introductions of this type of police is the absence of weapons as a tool to put the community at ease with the traditional repressive presence of the police. “Communitarian Police is a concept and a strategy based on the partnership between the population and public security institutions.” (ASCOM SEGEG)
Some interviewees saw the provision of the UPPs in some favelas as a positive change in which for the first time, the presence of the police force was not seen as repressive and did not represent fear when they (the police) entered the favelas. Libman said:
I have talked with people who live in the favelas about the situation of the UPP and all are more happy with the situation of not having arms in the favelas.
Others, like the ex mayor of Rio Cesar Maia, saw the UPPs as a distraction that had reduced the number of armed state forces and that would have violent outcomes in the long run.
They [the state government] removed the police from the transit [department] to the UPP and the numbers are the same in terms of assaults, robberies.
Others saw the military actions of December 2010 in the Alemão complex where military and police forces took the territory and captured key drug traffickers as proof that more repressive tactics were being employed and the UPP was, therefore, more of a distraction. This shows two extremely different state tactics in the intervention of security forces in favelas. On one hand, the UPP are seen as the peaceful force but on the other all the armed factions of the state are attacking an area of the city to take control from the perverse organizations.
In conclusion, the expert group admitted that the FB had little affect on the security in the communities where those practices were introduced. They see state security institutions as the ones that have the capacity to change security conditions in favelas and point out at the new developments of state policing institutions, such as the UPP, as possible proof of this. One interesting critique of the UPP is that they have been implemented first in favelas located in “privileged” areas of the city. Alba Zaluar critiques the criteria used to select the favelas in which this new police is implemented, arguing that other favelas are in more need of such strategies (Pacheco, 2009). Curiously the new security institutions (UPP) have only been implemented in favelas close to rich areas but the favelas themselves are highly “urbanized” by FB standards, which suggest that perhaps the favela urbanization is a pre-requisite to implementing higher policing practices.
Community views on security changes with FB projects
When interviewing the community in January 2011 the effects of the state police force attacks in the informal community Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro just one month before had increased the fear levels in all informal communities in this city. After the escalation of the conflict between drug dealers and police forces in Rio de Janeiro, in which drug dealers retaliated for the intensification of the police force by attacking police stations and mass robberies. The Brazilian security forces launched a raid which included 2,700 police and soldiers against an approximate 500 members of the drug dealer organization in the Complexo do Alemão. About 30 drug traffickers were arrested and at least 42 people were killed (DO G1 RJ 2010 and Domit 2010).

Figure 7 Map of the attacks that motivated the Operation Alemão in Rio de Janeiro source: DO G1 RJ. (2010)
State agencies by this time had still not resumed actions in some communities that were geographically close to where the attacks and military action occurred. I was politely denied access to some of the communities where FB had been implemented. I was told by the members’ organizations that work with the municipality that the police incursion into Alemão had modified conditions of security in these areas. The state police incursion in the Complexo do Alemão and the “closing” of surrounding neighborhoods to non-residents, highlights the fragility of these informal communities to the effects of violence.
None of the interviewees in the communities’ addressed the perverse organizations by name; they mention these groups as abstract actors and not as identifiable entities. I performed interviews in areas considered to be dominated by militias and by drug groups equally and these kinds of abstract mention of both were similar. I also conducted some informal interviews in Rocinha, a favela outside of the scope of this project and here was the only place where I found that people (members of NGO groups) were more willing to approach the issue. Rocinha was the only favela in which I had direct contact (visual ) with members of POs.
At the favela level, interviewees did not feel comfortable addressing issues of security and I got a significant number of people who rejected to be interviewed based on security. Those people who did allow me to interview them, in general, admitted that even if conditions were not perfect, security as a whole has improved from the conditions of violence that existed before the FB project had been implemented. A community member interview in the favela of Chacara del Castilho said:
After the projects the security improved a lot. Because when the street improves this [in turn] improves security.
But a perceived correlation between the effects of the projects and reduction of violence was not homogeneous across the interviews. In contrast, I found that some community residents viewed some of the project’s physical aspects as acting in detriment to security.
After the implementation of the FB, they open this street [main street]— the people come in and out [freely] and you do not know who they were, they arrive in motorcycles and will park in front of my store and ask me to give them all my money.
In general, interviewees linked increased mobility within their communities and between their communities and the city at large, which they cited as coming from FB projects’ new streets and the pavement of existing ones, to increases in violence by external actors in their neighborhoods. Others viewed this increase in mobility as a factor that had decreased levels of crime susceptibility in their neighborhoods because it permitted larger flows of people in and between them.
Further examination of my interviews as a whole reveals a recurring pattern over the three favelas where I conducted interviews. Reluctance to address issues of security in interviews, people who declined the request to be interviewed and individuals who felt more comfortable sharing their views about security (increased or decreased), follow a spatial distribution pattern. Individuals who felt comfortable to voice security issues (good and bad) were consistently located in areas close to the main roads and public buildings, housing units located along the transportation spine of the favela and close to areas of commerce and public buildings. The further units were from these areas, the less comfortable individuals were in addressing security questions or less open to be interviewed. This pattern was not altered by whether I was introduced by a community member or when I took a moto-taxi by myself up into the community and introduced myself personally, the two strategies that I implemented to access community members. This was relatively consistent across the three favelas were research was conducted.
Because all my interviews were performed at individual’s homes, this provided some indication that spatial location in relationship with certain project features (main streets and public buildings) determine levels of perception of security. In Figure 7, which maps responsiveness of the people I interviewed there to questions regarding security in the favela of Chacara del Castilho, I have assigned a value of 1 to 10 to each of the individual’s homes where these interviews took place (or where I ask if persons will be able to be interviewed). One (1) refers to the denial of interviews based on concerns about security and ten (10) refers to he openness to be interviewed and to respond any questions about security in the community. I conclude that this further supports the recurring theme of how the FB not only increased mobility, but it also provides a more complex understanding of the how such structural changes modified perceptions of security.

Figure 8 Chacara del Castilho responsiveness to questions of security. Source: the author Jota Samper
It also suggests that even if security has not totally increased, the provision of this spine network, provides a larger sense of security in communities, at least for those who live closest to it, and that further study should be placed on how such networks and increases in community mobility can provide changes in perceived levels security. It also suggests that the modification of access to the communities had effects on perceptions of security. This last element echoes ideas of modification of space in warfare theory.
Warfare theory
Theory of urban warfare suggests that physical intervention that increases mobility of goods and military forces, along with public projects will help eliminate the positional advantages of insurgent groups (Tomes 2004). What I see here from this perspective is that the increased mobility had opened venues not only for the state in its fight against insurgency but also to other perverse organizations in the region. The inconsistency of the state intervention and relationship to the communities had opened space for other groups to capitalize on strategic advantages of the modification of the formal space of the favela. Given that POs had become more structurally sophisticated organizations (the franchises of narco-dictatorships), these physical interventions in favelas, in some cases, had made the state less able to maintain their control over the means of repression in the city of Rio. Because PO’s of other areas of the city are also able to come and add new favelas under their control. At the same time it seems that even new security strategies like the UPP require infrastructural investment to be implemented, further complicating the value of such intervention.

V. Conclusions

In general, in terms of the FB projects’ impacts on the quality of life of the community residents where they were implemented, my study makes three key conclusions:
1. This project adds to the body of literature that finds that urban upgrading practices of the Favela Bairro projects contributes to improving the quality of life of the inhabitants of impoverished informal settlements in Rio de Janeiro. Both perceptions of experts and community members attest to increased quality of life directly related to the FB projects in terms of economical, physical and social improvements.

2. In terms of FB project implementation procedures, the community input regarding the modifications of its space was minimal, as referenced in many other studies, but that community members did not perceive their input as minimal because the FB strategies of at least meeting with and building inside the community they saw as an improvement over the traditional repressive urbanization tactics of forced eviction used by previous local and national administrations.

3. This research has also revealed that the involvement of international agencies, such as the IDB, which forced on local projects specific international and institutional standards, weakened the process of community participation in urban upgrading in Rio de Janeiro’s FB project. This in turn has further debilitated what as of now is the most unsuccessful component of the project goals, and thus endangered the long-term impact of the projects (community development, governance and project sustainability). A legacy of this failed process of contemporary urban upgrading practices in Brazil is that other groups implementing such projects, such as the PAC and Morar Carioca, employ less participatory urban measures than those that were implemented at the beginning of the FB project almost twenty years ago.

4. Finally, in terms of security, this study finds that there is an apparent connection between the physical structural changes to the urban form of informal settlements that these interventions create and how residents in these settlement communities are willing to express issues of security. Individuals who live close to the main road and public buildings seem to feel safer in voicing their opinions regarding security, corroborating the idea that these kinds of projects integrate, in some way, these individuals with the structure of the formal city and in this way then the physical interventions had a direct impact on individual inhabitant’s lives. This research found that most individuals working on this project of “favela urbanization” do not directly recognize a connection between the policy and physical transformation of the favelas as direct contributors to changes in security, but instead the actions of state and local agencies suggest that “favela urbanization” is a pre-requisite to the implementation of new policing strategies.

These four conclusions imply that the physical projects that are part of these multi-sectoral upgrading approached in Latin America in the long run are crucial in improving the quality of life of inhabitants of informal settlements as the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. The case of the FB teaches us that the pleasure of involving the local community was reduced when municipalities had the support of international developmental agencies that determined their own project goals. These conclusions also imply that measures that force both international agencies and local government to include the communities in the decisions of how to improve the environment that they have built and live in, is crucial not only to achieve the elusive sustainability of such improvements but also as a strategic tool that can increase the governance levels of community organizations and thus help the community to overcome the multiplicity of perverse actors that try to take over of these territories.
Finally, special care should be placed in the design of transportation networks and in the placement, character, scale and programs of public building along transportation infrastructure because they determine (as the mapping of this paper presents) levels in the “distance from the state” of communities, distances this design and infrastructure can bridge.


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