Cidade de Deus

Similar to other nations in the world, Latin America deals with the issue of depressed areas that are affected by the presence of violence and crime. Portrayed in Cidade de Deus, a 2002 film, the favelas was the host of the social problems influencing the lower class inhabitants of suburban Latin America, such as the main character, Rocket. Dealing with the daily issues of gangs and drugs, the characters are stuck playing roles that their lifestyle enforces.
Easily described by Julio César Pino, “Favelados have served the city of Rio de Janeiro in every imaginable capacity, but when their services were no longer required they have been discarded like rotten fruit” (Pg. 1). The neighborhoods that Lil’ Z and Benny resided in benefited from the financial success of all the criminal activities, even though the cities were willing discard them as soon as their services were completed.
Employment was questionable in the favelas. People had a difficult time finding employment in the area, especially jobs that were permanent and stable. Monetary stability is a human need for survival, and without a financial income families were likely to suffer the consequences (starvation, poor living conditions, etc.). A job opportunity was scarce in that era for Latin Americans, and the only probability of attaining a stable job was living in an area where a staple crop was grown. Described by Pinot, when a favela is placed near a staple crop, the employment stability greatly increases as economic issues decrease. However, the financial income was still small in comparison to much more successful cities, as inhabitants reported “an average income of Cr$245 per household” (Pg. 24). Imagine how a family of five people can survive on such a meager income.
To further comprehend the issues of the favelas in Latin America, Ney dos Santos Oliviera describes how the neighborhood was different from the slums of New York City. In North America, the ghettos were formed by the whites seeking refuge from the overpopulation of the city limits. They faced the politics that were enforced by the upper class, dealing with unreasonable housing prices that forced Americans closer to poverty and criminal acts. In a favela, people moved to the area due to the attraction of finding work. They came to the favelas with a purpose of improving their lives, but were faced with the reality of living in an impoverished area.
However the favelas did their best when dealing with the political interests of its inhabitants compared to the ghettos of New York City. Similar to North America, the progressive blacks were the leaders of the impoverished areas, but their rise to what little power they attained was through different methods. “In Brazil much of the progressive black political leadership that achieved political office arose from the community-based movement, while in the United States it arose from the civil rights movement” (pg. 84), according to Oliviera. The issue of equality was not the motivation for the political representation, but rather the need for the lifestyle improvement for the community as a whole.
The main issue of the favela was the survival of the community as a whole. The people performed whatever jobs they could attain, whether they were legal or not, in hopes of one day attaining an appropriate lifestyle.