And now their watch begins

Brazilian armed forces personel stand watch at a crucial checkpoint Rio de Janeiro. The city has been plagued by a recent crime wave over the past few weeks. Security experts are worried that the citys security policy is failing in the months ahead of the Olympic games.

The Fisherman

On May 19th, a 23 year-old fisherman and a 12 year-old boy were shot dead by police inside a bakery during a raid. After their funerals, locals decided to take to the streets.

Fury Road

In the last week, at least 12 people have been killed by violence in Rio in a particulary dangerous area that includes what locals call "The Gaza Strip". Two moto-taxi drivers were killed, according to locals, by a police ambush. In response, the drivers organized a protest in front of the governors mansion.

Life in the rural northeast

It isn’t easy for the residents of the Irmã Dulce housing development to get home these days. Their neighborhood, a collection of new low-rise condos that gleam against the sky, is located on the outskirts of João Pessoa, a city set on a dirt road miles from any bank or supermarket. There are no bus lines, and it’s not like most residents will be driving — seeing as they live below the poverty line. Indeed, most folks travel on foot. Which is why you might raise an eyebrow at a key Irmã Dulce amenity: a parking space for each unit.

Read more: The New White Elephants of Brazil | Fast Forward | OZY

Nowhere to go

A few weeks ago I finished a story on Rio's homeless. After the fact though, I got invited to photograph the occupation of hotel Gloria, where many of my subjects found shelter. Like them, these photos have nowhere to go.

His Gentle Way

When witnessing the deafening thuds and desperate groans of Judo practitioners, gentleness, or Ju as the Japanese say, is the last thing that crosses your mind. Even less so when you come face to face with Willians Araujo da Silva, the 23-year-old, 250 lbs black belt that promises to shine for Brazil in next years Paralympics. It’s not immediately obvious that he’s blind when you first meet him. Mr. Silva’s composure and sense of direction are nearly superhuman. It’s only when he sticks out his hand to greet you that you notice it’s angled just a few degrees off; the fact that he’s blind begin to sink in. And still his sense of direction and space is so good as to create this lingering doubt as to whether he really is blind or not. It’s only when you see him kick a wall inadvertently or nearly fall in the gap between the subway car and the platform that you’re truly convinced.

“You should come see my place”, he said brimming with pride after practice. It’s really a bland middle class condo in a bad part of town that most people would find underwhelming. “The worst part about my old place was waking up in the morning and being ankle deep in water in your own bedroom. Oh the and rats too”. He recalled and seemingly trying to forget at the same time. Mr. Silva was raised in Favela do Alemão, one of the most notorious slums in Rio de Janeiro. His new apartment, which he bought with his Judo winnings, isn’t too far from his old place despite being worlds better. Although he’s happy with his own place, he bubbles with joy when boasting that he was also able to buy his parents a modest but dignified house too.

“Well does it pay?” His father asked years ago when Mr. Silva began practicing the sport. “Not really”, he told his dad. “Well then get a real job, something that pays”, was his no nonsense fatherly response. Despite the lack of support from his then skeptical family, he bravely continued though their doubt. After the 2011 Parapan games in Mexico where he unexpectedly placed 2nd, a local Brazilian TV crew interviewed him. His father coincidentally happened to be watching. It was then Mr. Silva said, that his family realized his potential.

What makes Mr. Silva stand out though, is his Ju, his gentleness. Someone in Mr. Silva’s shoes would be understandably frustrated. Frustrated at not being able to see the look of joy on his mothers face when she says he’s a gift from God. Frustrated from often stumbling into the various obstacles life throws at him. Frustrated from the regret of loosing his sight at age 11 from a fireworks accident. But he manages the opposite; to count his blessings not dwell on his curses. The irony is that if he hadn’t lost his vision, he likely would have wound up just another forgotten slum dweller creatively trying to make ends meet. Instead, his blindness has opened doors he would not have seen otherwise. The secret to Judo they say is to use your opponents force against him. Mr. Silva can teach us that perhaps there is some wisdom to found in our misfortune, some gentler way through life.

As They Fade

On the morning of March 26th, roughly 100 families were forcibly evicted by police from an abandoned lot in downtown Rio. Again homeless, they decided to sleep on the steps of city hall and demand their grievances be heard. Many were escaping the undeclared war between police and drug gangs. Some were crushed by soaring rent stemming from Olympic makeovers in their communities. Others still were simply unemployed and unemployable due to a sagging economy. As days passed, the echoes of their discontent landed on the deaf ears of a bureaucratic and incompetent local government. Unsurprisingly, no official action was taken to address their grievances. They eventually left their makeshift camp by city hall one-by-one. On April 6th, the remaining dozen or so families that hadn’t left earlier decided to abandon ship. Many of them found temporary housing in shelters, a friend’s house or other clandestine occupations thought out the city. Their improvised war of attrition with local authorities is lost and their grievances continue unanswered.

Still Life

Stills lifes exploring Rios relationship with it's colonial past. In the first image, a steel link that was used to chain slaves as they were being traded for salt, the currency of the day.

City of violence

"In this chamber, we speak about everything that happens in our city and in our country". Said Leandro Magaldi as he uttered his final words to his father, Carlos Magaldi. Carlos Magaldi was murdered on March 20th at while trying to flee a robbery in his car according to the official story. Interestingly, Magaldi was being investigated by the justice system for ordering a hit on his predecessor and fellow Niteroi city council colleague Lucio Martelo in 2012. Niteroi, March 21st, 2015.

Gods and devils

A girl jumping rope invokes the image on Yemanjá, an African goddess and archetype, on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. In a completely unrelated incident only blocks away, families were evicted from their homes without a judicial order by a public/private business venture remodeling the city for the 2016 Olympics.

Pool Hall Politics

A significant group of PSOL members and sympathizers gathered above a pool hall to discuss politics. PSOL is a small leftist party born from a 2003 schism with PT, Dilma Roussef's ruling party in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, March 17th, 2015. My original story for the day, about polluted waters in the bay got held up due to a three-month shrimp fishing ban, meaning no one was out fishing with a net, legally.

A Better Place

Over fifteen years ago, Edina Prado, 70, adopted two stray dogs at the local college where she taught history. Little did she know how that day would affect her future. Over these fifteen years, her and her husband, Euracy Prado, 80, continued adopting stray dogs off the street. Today they have over 110 dogs at home, although they admit they’ve lost count. Despite bringing her waves of endless chores, she credits them for helping her overcome depression. The fact that they go though nearly a half-ton of dog food each month (400kg/880lbs) doesn’t deter them from trying to find homes for as many stray dogs as they can. “What is our purpose on Earth?” she asked. “Some people take care of other people, I take care of dogs”. She added before finishing, “We should leave the world a better place than we found it.”

Workers United

Left wing activists marched on Rio de Janeiro city hall in support of Petrobras. In recent weeks, large scale corruption allegations have come to light and opponents have threatened to privatize the world's largest publicly traded oil producer.

Story Preview: Paraolympic Judo

Wilians Araujo lost his sight in a childhood acident. One day while having trouble crossing the street, he met a social worker that suggested he practice judo for the blind. Only a few years later, he's a world class Judoka and had high hopes for the Rio 2016 Olympics. More to come...

As it should be

Gender rights activists marked International Womens Day on March, 9th with protests, flyers and a live action theater scene depiting the misogyny women go through on a daily basis in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.