In favela above opening ceremony, pride and disappointment

Fri Aug 5, 2016 11:12pm EDT
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By Brad Brooks

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - They could see the fireworks but they have felt no impact from the Olympic Games.

Residents of the Mangueira favela or slum, which overlooks the Maracana Stadium where the 2016 Olympic opening ceremony was held, expressed a mix of pride and disappointment as the Games opened in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

"Look, we're extremely proud to be the host of the Games, but has there been any benefit to us?" asked Lilian Sales, a Mangueira resident.

"No, nothing has changed in my life because of hosting these Games and it's absurd to think that anything will change for my two children," said Sales, who has a son who is 6-years-old and a daughter less than 12 months old.

As A-listers and other celebrities swamped the Maracana for the opening ceremony, which celebrated the culture of favelas, slum dwellers looked on less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) away at the lights coloring the night sky.

"The world needs to know – I am here watching this spectacle from a slum right next to where they are opening the Olympics, and my life has not improved at all,"  said Jose Carmo, a 23-year-old construction worker who lives in Mangueira.

"It is frustrating to be so close to this spectacle and yet so far away, living in a place were we have no security, not even sewage," Carmo said.

Rio's Olympics are costing nearly $12 billion but critics argue even legacy projects like a new metro line, bus highways and massive real estate developments have done little to improve the lives of the city's marginalized.   Continued...

The Maracana Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony is seen from the Mangueira favela slum. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes