Rio unveils cable car in notorious favela

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The Independent Travel

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff inaugurated Thursday the first cable car of the notoriously crime-ridden Complexo do Alemao, as Rio prepares to revamp the slums ahead of world sport meets.

Since 2008, Brazil's second-largest city has been racing against the clock to improve security and infrastructure in its shantytowns before hosting the 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2016.

Far from the Bondinho tramway that carries tourists to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, the new rail car forms the backbone of a project to overhaul transport in the impoverished neighborhoods that are elevated and cut off from one another.

Drug traffickers wield control over several such favelas.

"The Alemao cable car symbolizes the fact that we are investing not only in our main streets and hydroelectric plants, but also in people to change their daily lives because with the station, people living here will enjoy public services they didn't have before," Rousseff said at the inauguration ceremony.

Each station will be equipped with a post office, bank and library.

"Before, people used to consider leaving the neighborhood because of drug trafficking and insecurity, but now that will change," said the president, adding she was proud of her role in the "pacification" of the Alemao favelas during a major November 2010 military operation.

The authorities hope the cable car, currently stretching across 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) and six stations, will become an alternative means of transportation for nearly 70 percent of the people living in the Alemao complex, home to 85,000 inhabitants.