All these big cities have no go areas, son. Even London has these areas, you have to be careful but some cities are really bad. While I was in São Paulo I was accompanied by an armed guard everywhere. I stayed in the white rich part of town but had to drive through the city. Similarly you will find places like the favelas, drug ridden, crime infested hell holes in places like Mexico City. Mumbai, Delhi, Johannesburg. You name it.
You know what's the worrying thing is? When the state abrogates its responsibility and hands over the responsibility of an area to the crime lords. That's when you know that the state is weak and you shouldn't live there. Or invest.
But we have to succeed. You heard about the mafia yesterday. Brave men like falcone and Borsalino gave their lives to eradicate the mafia. That was bravery and courage son. Think like those men. We have to keep a constant fight on against the crime lords, the terrorists and the others who don't want to have a safe place for you and your children.
In the Violent Favelas of Brazil
Favela da Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, December 2011
My Brazilian friend Marina and I were picking up a visiting friend from New York, who heads an NGO, in her hotel lobby near Paulista, the most prestigious avenue in São Paulo. It was 7:30 on a busy Friday night last October.
We walked up to a taxi outside the hotel. I sat in the front to let the two women chat in the back. Marina asked me to Google the restaurant menu. I was doing so when I saw a teenage boy run up to the taxi and gesticulate through my open window. I thought he was a beggar, asking for money. Then I saw the gun, going from my head to the cell phone.
“Just give him the phone,” Marina said from the back seat.
I gave him the phone. He didn’t go away.
I didn’t want to give him my wallet. The boy was shouting obscenities. “Dinheiro, dinheiro!”
The boy’s body suddenly jerked back, as a man’s arm around his neck pulled him off his feet. The man, dressed in a black shirt, was shouting; he had jumped the boy from behind. He started hitting the boy. The taxi driver sitting next to me was stoic. He said that this had never happened to him before, but he couldn’t have been more blasé.
The next thing I saw was the boy and another teenager, probably his accomplice, running away fast up the street. The man in the black shirt chased them a bit, then came back panting to the taxi. “Did the bastard get anything?” our savior, whom we later nicknamed Batman, asked. He wasn’t a plainclothes cop, as I’d originally thought; he was just an ordinary citizen who was tired of the criminals.