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Inequality … in a photograph

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In 2004, photographer Tuca Vieira captured the image of the Paraispolis favela next to its wealthy neighbour, Morumbi, that came to symbolise the gap between So Paulos rich and poor. He dedicates us the inside story

How did you come to take this photo?
I took the photo for the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, for a special report on the 450 th anniversary of Sao Paulo in 2004. It was taken from a helicopter following a suggestion by my colleague Marlene Bergamo. But when I took it, I had no notion it would become so popular.

What does the photo show, in your opinion?
It is clearly an illustration of social inequality, perhaps the biggest problem for Brazil and Latin America. The unjust and brutal difference between rich and poor, inherited from slavery, is in the origin of many other problems- violence, below-par schooling, prejudice and many other issues.

Inequality means that someone who is poorer is obliged to work more, so they have no time to study, which impacts on their education. As a outcome, they are not able to develop the critical and political awareness necessary to transform their own situation. Add to this the absence of any sense of the collective responsibility or solidarity among the privileged in Brazil, and you have a shut circle that is very difficult to break.

I am happy to have taken a photograph that expresses this problem and has acquired significance, especially in view of the immense quantity of photograph that we produce today. But deep down, I would rather it didn’t exist.

On your Facebook you published a photo in which you’re showing it to[ former chairman] Lula at the Lula Institute in Sao Paulo. What was his reaction ?
I said to him,” Lula, this photo is one of the most well-known from Brazil, as much here as abroad. It was taken in 2004 and circulated in various places around the world during the period when you were president. I believe it illustrates the biggest of all the problems in Brazil, and I want to believe that it symbolises your struggle .” He looked at it in silence- and it is not easy to leave Lula in silence …


  • Click or tap to find Tuca Vieira’s photo of Paraisopolis( Paradise City) full size

Guardian Cities is in Sao Paulo for a special series of in-depth reporting and live events. Share your experiences of the city in the comments below, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram use #GuardianSaoPaulo, or by email to saopaulo.week @theguardian. com

Read more: https :// cities/ 2017/ nov/ 29/ sao-paulo-injustice-tuca-vieira-inequality-photograph-paraisopolis

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