Brazil’s dark side is exposed in this exhaustive study of Nem, a very unlikely gang lord

In 1992, I went on my honeymoon to Brazil. Our first stop was Copacabana, its famous beaches and its glitzy hotel, made famous by Brigitte Bardot, Orson Welles and many an A-list scandal. It is also only a few miles from Rocinha, one of the largest shanties in the world. Rio is the epicentre of global inequality, where extraordinary wealth and angry poverty are rarely more than a few streets away.

That year happened to be one of the most violent in the city’s recent history. This was a period of hyperinflation and the arrival of cocaine. Drug traffickers became paramilitary forces, transforming their capacity for violence into political power. The curiosity is that – apart from the odd shoot out or car chase – for most of the time the wealthy residents of the South Zone of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, and the tourists, are blissfully unaware of the struggles to survive taking place almost on their doorsteps.

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Source: Guardian Environment