Friday, 23 December 2011

Seen on the streets of São Paulo: Car carrying tree

I saw this scene the other day. On the one hand people complain there are too many accidents, on the other...

Ingenious or stupid?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Photos of São Paulo's Cracolândia past and present

Crack user in 2005

There is an infamous area in the historical centre of São Paulo which has become known as Cracolândia, the name being derived from the fact that since the nineties crack has been openly bought, sold and consumed in open air public spaces of this centro region.

Despite efforts by the authorities to "clean up" Cracolândia and gentrify the area, there has been little notable change. Agencia Luz has some powerful black and white photographs from 1995 to present day which illustrate this.

I wanted to share some of them here as most people would not contemplate going anywhere near this part of town and although there are plenty of snapshots professional photographs are rare. [Some photos are edited to protect the identities of those pictured]

Cracolandia 1995

A consumer of crack in Cracolândia 2008

Police crackdown on Cracolândia 2005

Cracolândia 2009

Friday, 16 December 2011

Homicide rate in São Paulo hits lowest levels in over 30 years

The Sangari Institute has just released a so called map of violence in Brazil covering data from 1980 to 2010 and the most interesting data is no doubt from São Paulo:

Above are comparative results from the last 10 years for Brazil, São Paulo state, São Paulo city and municipalities, and finally the interior of the state (excluding São Paulo city). The interesting data is how the city and its immediate surroundings has transformed from having 60,2 homicides per 100,000 people in 2000 right down to last year’s 15,6 per 100,000. For a population the size of São Paulo that is statistically significant and an incredible drop. Few would have predicted 10 years ago that São Paulo would have four times fewer murders. It has gone from practically twice the national average to nearly half the national average whilst continuing to grow in absolute population size.

Looking at the data more closely we can see it is a complete reversal of the trend up to that point. São Paulo started out in 1980 with a homicide rate similar to its current one but greatly outstripped the already increasing national average year on year until reaching its peak in 1999 reaching levels over 65% higher than the already high national average. Frightening statistics. Escalating lawlessness? An inevitable product of gross inequality? A side effect of the uncontrolled creation of a megalopolis? Either way, 1999 would have been a difficult time to predict any major reduction or even leveling off.

But the data doesn’t lie, here’s the year by year rate again by Brazil, São Paulo state, São Paulo city and municipalities, and finally the interior of the state (excluding São Paulo city):

And in more visual format (check out the purple line which is São Paulo city):

Paradoxically 10 years ago there were more municipalities which didn’t register any homicides at all which means there are now much fewer homicides but they are more dispersed. And counter-intuitively, although the more populous areas have higher rates in general at the top end the municipalities with 200-500,000 population now have a higher rate than ones with over 500,000:

Food for thought and definitely not what the tabloid media, human rights activists, or paranoid affluent Paulistanos would have you believe...

For more statistics on São Paulo: 

For the full report from the Instituto Sangari:

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Seen on the streets of São Paulo: Pro-caffeine graffiti

I saw this on the wall of my new favourite coffee hang out the wonderful Coffee Lab in Vila Madalena.

A great place for purists. If you ask them for Decaf they actually won't serve you! :)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Street Art in São Paulo Part 5

Here are a couple more of my favourite bits of street art, both located in the western part of central São Paulo:

Part of the 260m mural at Avenida Paulo VI (Metro Sumaré)

A frog looks out from Rua Inácio Pereira Rocha

More street art in São Paulo here

Street Art in São Paulo Part 4 - space invaders are here
Street Art in São Paulo Part 3 - vila madalena
Street Art in São Paulo Part 2 - painted lamp posts
Street Art in São Paulo Part 1

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The São Paulo state flag explained; what each element means

São Paulo state flag

The São Paulo state flag is actually a national flag reject (hence the pictorial representation of the country not the state). It was supposed to serve as the Republican flag in 1889 but a rival design, which is similar to the current Brazilian flag, was eventually chosen. The paulista flag then laid dormant until it was adopted by the state of São Paulo in 1946 by which time the prohibition of state symbols and flags had been lifted.

Although when proposed as a national flag the colours black, white and red were supposed to reflect the racial diversity of the country; European (white), African (black) and Indigeneous (red), as state flag the elements have the following meaning:

The 13 black and white stripes:  The nights (black) and days (white) during which the bandeirantes fought for the state.

[ASIDE: The word bandeirantes derives from the portuguese word bandeira or flag. They are the guys who, organising themselves through a system of identifying flags, basically fought, robbed and enslaved indigeneous peoples despite being themselves descendents or partially descendent of indigenous tribes. So, although they were essentially land pirates and have a deservedly bad name elsewhere in South America, in Brazil and in São Paulo in particular they are revered for setting out from São Paulo de Piratininga (now São Paulo) and contributing to making Brazil stretch out way beyond the dividing lines the Portuguese and the Spanish had formally agreed. True heroes..]

The red triangle represents the blood spilt by the bandeirantes in their exploits

The colour blue is supposed to reflect the strength and vigour which was given to the state (and presumably country) by the bandeirantes.

And finally the 4 stars are supposed to be the four major stars of the constellation of the Southern Cross (Cruzeiro do Sul) under which Brazil, and therefore São Paulo, lies.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

VIDEO: Specialist school for blind ballet dancers in São Paulo

This is a report on a ballet school in São Paulo which has developed a method of "teaching by touch" in order to develop professional ballet dancers who are blind or visually impaired.

 Approximately 300 dancers have graduated from the school since it was founded in 1995..

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