Sunday, December 02, 2007

Poverty: Massive works program in slums of Rio

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has announced a multimillion-dollar plan to improve roads, build sanitation systems and upgrade housing for residents in slums outside Rio de Janeiro.

Mr. Lula made the announcement Friday as he visited the Cantagalo "favela," or shantytown, outside the upscale beach district of Copacabana.

The president's plan will invest nearly $20 million of federal and state money into the local favelas, affecting thousands of families.

It was Mr. Lula's first visit as president to a favela, and security was tight with police shutting down access to the area.

Last week, police traded gunfire with gang members in Cantagalo as they searched for a suspect involved in the killing of an Italian tourist.

Many of Rio's poor areas are controlled by heavily armed drug-trafficking gangs, making the city the most violent in Latin America.