Many so-called middle class Brazilians and the more affluent generally look down their noses at the residents of favelas and often characterize the communities as crime ridden and violent.
When I first proposed to my family here that I wanted to go to the Rocinha favela community to see how I might be able to bring my 30 years of nonprofit community service experience to bear, my MIL went through the roof. She was sure I would be shot dead upon entering the neighborhood. She was quite literally blinded by her preconceptions. I was not deterred.
Several years ago Luiz and I traveled to several Greek islands, where the neighborhoods' spacial layouts were remarkably simmilar to the cramped reality of Rio's favelas. But there the communities had been developed and supported and indeed turned into tourist meccas. Tomato - Tomäto.
Here is a good article, translated on the very fine blog Rio real that explores the cultural vibrancy in Rio's favela communities. Check it out. And bookmark Rio real for future reference. Thank you Julia Michaels for your dedicated work.