AS Brazil gets ready for the World Cup in a few years, its leaders are discovering it’s never too early to clean up their act about poverty. A program like Santa Marta is designed to attract tourists into entering Rio’s slums where they soon discover drug addicts are no longer present nor are the ubiquitous beggars. In an interesting twist, slum dwellers are trained to work as tourist guides and signs in English have been installed in many quarters of the slum neighborhood. Visitors will be urged to investigate tourist attractions like learning the samba at a school or checking out local artists. This approach is certainly different from what people expect after seeing the film, “City of God” which portrays non-stop violence and brutality.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited Santa Marta to give it his blessing. After all, he came from the slums, but not slums which invited tourists to check out the poverty.