FORTALEZA, BRAZIL – THEN AND NOW

The World Cup games will be here in just under three months so people might get to see some images of the city on TV…since I first came here a long time ago it has grown from about 250,000 to 2,500,000 people in just 60 years.. the roads are choked with cars and the people keep coming to the seaside city which boasts that it’s Summer lasts 12 months. Currently about 50 high-rise apartment buildings are under construction along with another mega mall to accommodate the continuing demand for safe living spaces for new arrivals and locals alike.

From a city where – in 1956 – I lived safely in a house with a garden, a 2 foot high front wall and windows with just wooden shutters that stayed open all day – no glass, iron bars, hot water or air conditioning – this city is now a place where the majority live in air conditioned homes, travel in air conditioned cars and work in air conditioned offices, stores, malls, etc.; only the people who have to work outdoors, the poor and the tourists walk the streets; the houses are rapidly being bulldozed and the middle and upper classes are all moving into apartment buildings secured by armed guards, or gated communities where people can live in homes like they used to in the past – but the difference is that the developments are surrounded by high walls and the entrances to the communities are secured by armed guards ! What few houses remain in Fortaleza are almost always surrounded by 10 foot high walls topped with broken glass and barbed wire, or they are in the shanty towns where the poor live and don’t need such security. The city has a peripheral area, not unlike Paris’s no-go zones, where people are killed daily, however, just like Paris, the secret to safety is not to enter such areas. The tourist and upmarket commercial areas have a sufficiency of police and private security as to make them safe places to live or visit. Welcome to 21st century Brazil !

 

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