National Geographic : 1987 Mar
compete side by side with vultures for food. Hell is when you face bulldozers pushing ten-foot-high mounds of rancid, dripping garbage, and you must wade into it, knee deep, clawing for tin cans or pieces of toma to. Hell is when you do this every day. And when it seems normal-when you are eight. N BAHIA, where the powerful black cul ture of the African took hold and came to dominate Brazil, there was a military encampment called Favela, named for a local cactus, that was razed in the war of 1897 between rebels and soldiers of the new Brazilian republic. The survivors, homeless and facing an uncertain future, moved south and added to Brazil's great immigration to the cities. Favela lent its name to the shantytowns that formed around cities like Belo Horizon te, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo. In these favelas you will still find entire neighbor hoods from the same villages in Bahia and Ceara, practically transplanted. In the past decade the favelas of Rio have organized effective associations to press for electricity and sanitation. As morefavelados gain title to their land, they are willing to im prove their homes; cinder block and brick are replacing sheet metal and cardboard. And if the favelas are not yet prosperous, they are at least free.