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Top questions for Rio heading into 2013

The host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics faces many questions as it prepares for mega-events that are changing the way things are working in Rio de Janeiro.

By Julia MichaelsGuest blogger / December 27, 2012

A man kicks a ball at the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro December 25.

Pilar Olivares/Reuters

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Rio de Janeiro has changed hugely in just the last four years. Thanks to economic growth, investment, and pacification (in the notoriously violent slums known as favelas), the city is more integrated and vibrant than perhaps it has ever been. Cariocas— what Rio inhabitants are known as — of all classes are freer than they were before to move around and try out a gamut of cultural experiences, to invest in their dreams, and forge new partnerships.

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In 2010, Sérgio Cabral was reelected governor of Rio state and this year, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes received his own overwhelming show of approval. Clearly most citizens of both Rio state and the capital city support the continuity, consolidation, and deepening of their urban policies.

As the overall context has improved (with exceptions and backtracking), hardworking, visionary, and creative cariocas have done much to contribute to the tricky process of urban integration.

Notably, O Globo newspaper’s Faz Diferença award candidates this year include United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Raquel Rolnik, who has criticized the city’s removal policy, and the pioneering FLUPP, or International Literary Festival in Pacified Favelas, organized by Écio Salles, Toni Marques, and Julio Ludemir. Other candidates include the telenovela Avenida Brasil, which brought hidden aspects of life in Rio de Janeiro to national television; Marcus Faustin, the creator of the groundbreaking pacified favela youth program Agência de Redes para a Juventude; Jailson da Silva e Souza’s instrumental think-tank Observatório de Favelas; and the overwhelmingly successful new art fair on the wharves, ArtRio.

By comparison, last year’s winners included businessman and philanthropist Eike Batista, the animated film “Rio” creator Carlos Saldanha, and Tião Santos, the trashpicker discovered by artist Vik Muniz for his film Wasteland.

Last month, RioRealblog reported on a new move to manage the city’s social needs, which may augur well for the most problematic aspect of Rio’s transformation. With so much activity and forward movement, one could easily conclude that all is well in the world’s most exciting seaside city.

But herewith is a to-do list for us all (and please do comment, publicly or privately, if you have information, leads, additional questions, or items, contacts, etc.):

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