The road to Rio
5 live Daytimes editor
On November 10th and 11th Victoria Derbyshire will broadcast from Rocinha, one of the largest favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro. It’s not far from where the England squad’s main base is due to be when they arrive for the World Cup next June. Ahead of the tournament Victoria will be finding out what supporters making the journey to South America can expect.
Brazil has a population of 196.6 million (UN 2011), in 2011 around 16 million people (8.5% of the population) were living in extreme poverty, defined as having 70 reais (£27) or less a month. The country though is one of the rising economic powers - otherwise known as BRIC nations - together with Russia, India, China and South Africa. It’s estimated there are one million crack cocaine users in Brazil and the latest crime figures show that 406 people were murdered in Rio and the surrounding state in just one month (August 2013). Rio itself is home to more than 600 favelas.
At the moment Brazil is getting the kind of attention it could do without before a World Cup. Protests across the country have become increasingly violent. Beginning in June, as a response to rising public transport costs, the protests have developed into a movement against poor public services, the cost of staging next year's World Cup and better working conditions for teachers. We’ll be speaking to some of those involved who have vowed to continue demonstrating right up to the World Cup finals.
Since 2008 armed police units (Pacifying Police Units or UPP), backed by soldiers and marines, have been going into Rio's favelas to drive out criminal gangs, and establish the first permanent police presences. It’s part of a strategy to take control of Rio's poor districts from drug-traffickers before next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. The figure for how many favelas have been pacified so far is only just over 30. Leaving hundreds still in the control of criminal gangs.
Rocinha was pacified in November 2011. Hundreds of special forces police and navy commandos backed by armoured military vehicles and helicopters moved into the slum before dawn.
We’ll also report from a favela under the control of drugs lords - a no-go zone for police - where shootings are common and drugs are sold openly in markets on the street. Traffickers are known as the ‘parallel power’, running favelas as their own kingdoms. They build the roads and schools, and mete out their own kind of justice: beatings for thieves, heads shaved for fighting.
Around 400 local people are killed by police in Rio every year. We'll meet the sister of a man alleged to have been tortured and murdered by police in his hometown. Ten officers have been arrested, and she is campaigning to find his body.
We’ll hear from prostitutes learning English to try and attract World Cup fans next summer. They reckon they will be sleeping with 40 men a day during the competition.
Two years ago Brazil announced it was spending £1.4 billion to tackle what has been described as a "crack cocaine epidemic". It is estimated the country has one million crack-cocaine users, we’ll be visiting a clinic where crack addicts are treated to hear from patients and staff.
We’ll also report from inside football's Mecca - the Maracana stadium – where the World Cup final is due to be held on 13 July, 2014. We'll sit with fans of the Brazil’s biggest team Flamengo and see for ourselves the passion Brazilians have for the game.
See more photos from Rocinha here.