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Fed Up! A Message from the Favela to the World, by Alemão’s Raull Santiago

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The original text was published in Portuguese by community reporter and activist Raull Santiagoon his Facebook page following the announcement that the UPP police will set up armored police stations from which they can shoot out, like tanks, in his community, and amidst the national debate on lowering the age of criminal responsibility. Raull is an organizer of the Coletivo Papo Reto media collective in Complexo do Alemão and was recently made a favela-based correspondent for Brazil’s national news program Globo News.

I’m fed up with the ?#@*&%! chit-chat that goes on about what is a “favela,” while in the real favela, theory and practice is to survive.

Fed up with hearing empty speeches and seeing another reality, of reading or watching news that doesn’t even tell 10% of the truth.

Fed up with seeing, in the territory where I was raised, the invisible castle of drug trafficking swaying but still firm, while reinforced concrete walls, armored, rise and turn my place into a barracks, police quarters, who knows, in the name of public security that includes everyone, except those of us who are within this ring of containment of the popular classes.

Fed up seeing my friends and young people I know in alleyways, up to their teeth with weapons of all calibers, surviving there in the darkness, waiting for the next situation that will put their life at risk, arrest their body or remove their chance at survival once and for all. Who am I in this world to say something about the choices of others, but whenever possible, I tell them that there are other paths and I conclude with one: God protects you, brother. Although many times I catch myself thinking what is the role of God in this place and the lives of the people here.

Fed up with lies, in a society that does not have enough schools for everyone, education for everyone, healthcare for everyone and principally JOBS for everyone, while the [politicians’] speeches say otherwise.

Fed up with seeing a bunch of uninformed pansies asking for a reduction in the age of criminal responsibility without knowing anything about the reality that goes on beyond anything anyone hears. A cruel reality that funnels, that judges, that condemns and executes in diverse ways youth from the periphery, the favela, the ghetto, the agglomeration, the quilombo, with the excuse of a stupid war on drugs, which masks the extermination of those who have been labeled of lesser value. Those who can die, who are the numbers that increase the statistics and also the pain, longing, tears, and destroy life.

It’s messed up to look around and see the majority applaud progress that does not exist, while I see a huge step back.

It’s all messed up, the hotplate is too hot and the sea is not for fish.

You know how it is, right?

“It’s that my neighborhood makes me pay if I stay on the defensive.”

My commitment to myself is not to deceive myself and never to lose the capacity to deeply observe what I live.

The favela is us, and that says a lot.

The favela does not fear the City, but the City fears the favela. It has always been this way, the big house fearful of slave quarters full of people who, in its opinion, are inferior.

I am fed up with seeing the blood of the poor spill for nothing. The favela does not have a stray bullet. We are killing ourselves. Let us take our finger off the trigger, look through the sight and notice in front of us a mirror: we are aiming at ourselves, brothers, and that’s what they want, to see us “poor, locked-up, or dead.”

But no, we’re going to change this!

The people have the strength and the favela are the people who make this city work!

To fight is necessary and the plantation owner is afraid because he understands the strength of the quilombo!

Today I was walking through an alley and I saw a bro in this situation… Should I say it’s his fault? No way! The family is poor, humble, and survives… But in advertisements they’re saying that he will only be somebody with the right expensive clothes, the right shoes, the right watch, the right car… In the meantime his mother and father are at work in the shop, in construction, at the madame’s house watching her children while her own child is here.

To throw the blame on him and say he has a choice, looking from my comfortable position is easy. But he is there in the alley now and whether he’ll live through another day is uncertain.

But I also know, this doesn’t matter to you, right? It’s not your problem. Keep fooling yourself!

See Raull Santiago and the media collective Papo Reto, recently profiled in The New York Times Magazine and also in Fusion, which produced this video: