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Jeep Tour Not Well Received by Favela Residents

Image from Folha de São Paulo

For the original in Portuguese, by Lana de Souza, published in Coletivo Papo Reto, click here.

According to residents of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, the presence of Jeep tours in their communities makes them feel like animals in a zoo, constantly being photographed in an invasive manner. Some of the residents, acting as local guides, believe there are better ways for visitors to get to know the favelas.

Thiago Firmino, a resident of Santa Marta, became a favela tour guide and claims that “the Jeep tour comes into the Santa Marta favela without using a local guide and, with no respect for the residents, the tourists take photographs wildly. They don’t tell the true story of the favela and come in only to exploit without taking into consideration the impact they are having.”

Inspired by the interview that Arnold Bloch conducted with teacher Barbara Nascimento for O Globo newspaper in January this year, Marcelo Mirisola, who is a writer and playwright, wrote an article for Yahoo News, in which he declared this type of tour worse than a safari. “Not even the robberies on the beaches or those on Avenida Brasil, there is nothing, there is no disgrace in this city that can compare to the savagery of Jeeps filled with tourists armed with cameras on the stereotypical hunt, ascending the hills. It is worse than a safari. The name for this is not tourism, it is something—I have been thinking hard—that goes beyond savagery. The name for this is humiliation,” wrote Mirisola.

For Mariluce Mariá, an artist who lives in Complexo do Alemão, it is important to exchange knowledge with the tourists who come to visit. “My husband Cléber sells the art pieces that I make. We used to organize a tour people called experience tourism as people came to truly know what our daily life is like. They left extremely satisfied,” explained the artist.

Asked about the best way to be a tourist in favelas, Thiago concludes objectively: “The ideal is to do a respectful tour. One that can generate local income. One that is led by a local guide who can tell the true story of the favela and attempt to demystify and challenge the stereotype that is ascribed to favela residents.”

A statement published on the website jeeptour.com.br says it is possible to experience cultural shock on their tours. The company also declares that there is great diversity in the favelas when it comes to the issue of survival, that favelas are places where is it natural for everyone to have a smile stamped on their face, despite daily difficulties.