After spending a week in Rio seeing old friends and celebrating the New Year, I got back to work today on an unusual project.
Monocle magazine are doing a special pull out section on Rio de Janeiro. It’s the third such city survey they’ve done, following on from Madrid and Tokyo. A team of Monocle writers from London and New York – including editor Andrew Tuck – are in the city to meet with officials and research the good and the bad of the Marvelous City.
They already met with Mayor Eduardo Pães and were highly impressed. Pães took office last January under a bit of a cloud. He was seen as colourless technocrat with little ideology, a fact underlined by his record of swapping political parties half a dozen times in his short career. (That is usually the sign of a politician who sees a better deal for himself under another political godfather.)
However, Pães has confounded a lot of people with his energetic first year in office. Rio had become a lawless city where petty crime – such as illegal parking and playing football on the beach – went unpunished. It was spiralling slowly out of control.
Pães cracked down on all sorts of these infractions, as I wrote about in this Monitor story in March, and he gained the confidence of Cariocas by doing so. Rio is still a long way from being a serious city but for probably the first time since it lost its capital status in 1960 it looks to be on the up. In winning the right to host the 2016 Olympics it has an identifiable future goal and investment will flood in. There is a new sense of optimism about town.
The aim of the special Monocle survey is to focus on and explain that change in fortunes, as well as serve as a guide for high-end tourists visiting the Marvelous City. Look for it on newstands in February.