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Rio Flushed With Pride Over New Favela Tourism Program “Cheiro Bom”

Gondola leaves Complexo do Alemão with sewage bound for Guanabara Bay.

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This is a satirical piece published on April 1, 2015.

Rio’s City Hall announced today a new project that partners sewage and tourism to raise the quality of life in Rio’s favelas. The Cheiro Bom (Good Smell) project promises to both improve the sewerage infrastructure in Complexo do Alemão and to support favela tourism by attracting more tourists.

The City has been heavily criticized for promising a sewage system to Complexo do Alemão and delivering a cable car system, instead, since its inauguration in 2011. The newly launched Cheiro Bom project reveals that the mayor will deliver his promise after all: the cable car will now be used as a sewage system as well as a tourist attraction. Since the cable car system runs at one third capacity, the Cheiro Bom project will hire sewage workers to shovel sewage into gondolas that are not in use. The gondolas will transport the sewage out of Complexo do Alemão, to be loaded onto trucks that will carry the sewage to Guanabara Bay, where it will connect with the city’s current sewerage infrastructure and contribute to the unique character of the tourist beaches.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes

Tourists who use the gondolas that have been used to transport sewage will be able to experience the same smell experienced by people who live near open sewage systems. In addition, tourists will be issued their own personal bucket of sewage sludge dug up from the alleys of Vila Capão. This will enrich their experience and remove sludge from Capão.

Because an infrastructure project is not really an infrastructure project until someone is evicted, city officials will enter the gondolas at random stops and evict tourists from the gondolas. And to ensure that tourists get the full flavor of gentrification, some tourists who pay for a favela tour will lose their place in the tour if other tourists pay more money. The tour organizers will try to make sure this separates families and groups of friends who are traveling together. Tourists who lose their place in the tour will be compensated by being moved to hotels in the far west of the city, allowing them to enjoy two hour commutes to the tourist areas. If there aren’t enough hotels in the western part of the municipality, the City will solicit bids for building new ones, using substandard building materials.

Army soldiers

Tourists who are evicted from their gondola or lose their place in the tour will still have to hang on to their buckets of sewage, because people who have lost their homes still have to poop somewhere.

To enhance the realism, Pacifying Police Units (UPP) officers will be instructed to fire their weapons at the gondolas at random intervals, as well as force selected tourists to the ground, handcuff them, and bring them to the UPP station for no apparent reason. As an added service, tourists who want to fully immerse themselves in the experience will have the option of paying for verbal abuse.

Vila Olímpica Carlos Castilho in Complexo do Alemão

The Cheiro Bom project will attract more tourists to carioca favelas by enhancing the favela experience and making visits more enjoyable, as well as demonstrate the City’s commitment to improving the lives of favela residents.