Article provided by Guide to Rio de janeiro

Favela in Rio de Janeiro - Dona Marta

In 1996, the Michael Jackson music video They don´t care about us was made in Brazil. Filming was made in Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. The music video was giving attention to the social inequality in Brazil. Of the same reason, government officials tried to stop the filming, but a court overruled their attempts. In Rio de Janeiro the filming was made in the shanty town (favela) of Dona Marta. In the 1990s this area was infested with the drug trade where control of the area was entirely in the hand of the traffickers. To have a secure environment for the shooting of the music video they had to get security guarantee from the local chief of the drug trade, Márcio Amaro de Oliveira. He ended eventually up as a celebrity, not only for being powerful enough to guarantee security for international celebrities, but also for his lack of shyness when it came to speaking with the media. His life story was told in the book Abusado, and just a few months after its publication in 2003 he got killed by strangulation in jail. The reason for the execution was allegedly as a revenge for his openness about the workings of the drug trafficking in general, and in Dona Marta in particular. The book is as far as I know not translated into English, and as it has a lot of local accent it is not an easy read for someone studying Portuguese. The book tells about the high rate of deaths, not only for traffickers but also for common citizens whom got executed for simple reasons such as dating a police officer from the outside.

Dona Marta is today available for visit, with use of a guide, as the area has been pacified and is under police control. Dona Marta has been pacified since 2008, as one of the first pacified favelas in Rio de Janeiro. As the favela is small it was a very good test candidate for a new strategy for controlling crime infested slum areas. Pacification, process where police put up permanent stations in order to gain trust of local population, has proven to be a highly effective strategy. Today there are police stations both at the top and at the bottom of the favela, which are the only two entrance areas. Today the small square where Michael Jackson was dancing in the music video has been renamed "Michael Jackson square", and is in the center of the favela. Best way to visit the interior parts of the favela is to go by car to the top and then walk through to the bottom. Particularly as this give a great view on the way up to both the neighbourhood of Botafogo, and the Lagoon close to Ipanema and Leblon. This require guide and driver, however, so most common is that the tour is just to the bottom of the favela and then walk partially into it. With last option you can just as well take a taxi and just go halfway to the favela for pictures. A guide is not necessary unless you decide to enter into the favela itself. In general you will not learn more by entering into a favela than what you will learn by reading books about social inequality in Brazil. Should you still wish to enter a favela, Dona Marta is the most easily accessible, albeit smaller and less famous than Rocinha.

If you look up the music video on Youtube: the part of the video with drummers and military police is from the filming in the city of Salvador, the rest is from Dona Marta in Rio de Janeiro.