One Month before FIFA World Cup in Brazil starts one can everywhere read about the «pacification» of Rio's favelas. Therefore police or militias causes deep ruptures in the social fabric of the communities. Some weeks ago Bruno Muniz from Rio uploaded the upsetting documentary «Funk is culture – Music Politics in Rio de Janeiro» on YouTube. He shows us, how the baile funk culture is affected by this policy. But there is an unexpected side effect, as the german label Man Recordings writes: «Funkeiros are becoming more politicized in order to fight back and reclaim their former urban space.» Watch the short documentary about the activists from Rio's Apafunk-Network.
What is following now, is the transliteration of the whole documentary. Watch it above via YouTube (with subtitles either in English or Portuguese) or read below.
«Bonde do passinho is innovating, the leg is intertwining, this new trend will catch you up. Because funk is culture, follow the example of our passinho. Men and women can dance it, children, adults and oldies as well.»
Mano Teko, MC and Apafunk activist: «For us, funk and politics were opposites. When we tried to get into the Legislative Assembly House we had that thought, that the house was racist, that they would not receive us. We thought it was not a space for us, but quite the contrary. When we entered, we saw it was indeed a space to be occupied. Many people think the Legislative Assembly is the only space. But it is not the only space, the space is the street.»
Roda de Funk 20.06.2012
People’s Summit during Rio +20
MC Pingo do Rap and MC Akaplay: «Everyone! Everyone says that I go around armed, but no one says that they tried to kill me, when the police went up the hill to kill. I’m inside the favela creating terror, to kill the guy and get the money. I’m sorry doctor but to have my mum crying, I’d rather have their mum crying first. My home up the hill went down with the rain. My mom worked washing clothes in family houses and my father, unemployed, made everything worse, always creating trouble on the streets.»
MC Leonardo, MC and Apafunk activist: «We made a roda de funk, in the Fluminense Federal University, through Adriana Facina, who introduced myself to other people and said: ‹Leonardo, everything you said you want to do, you can do, I’ll introduce you to some people, and you follow your struggle.› That’s how we created the roda de funk, which was, I mean, is, a political tool. We use our image and music, in the middle of the street, to tell the people what we are doing. In one of these rodas de funk in Niterói Marcelo Freixo was there and he said: ‹Leonardo, what you want is a law›. And I said: ‹Yes, it is a law›. So, look for me in my office.»
Chapéu Mangueira, 25.05.2012: Roda de Funk
Mente Solta Theatre Company: «The guy answers the phone in a robbery, we say: Don’t move! Don’t move! He moves, and then it’s the robber’s fault. Ooooh man! You were at the wrong place and the wrong hour. Just another shot black guy, no one will notice he is missing.»
MC Junior and MC Leonardo: «Many people have already died in a depressing war that respects no law. The decision to confront bandits harms everyone with the armoured cars. They train the police to leave bodies on the ground, the bandits they know that and exchange shots. They say it was a stray shot, but we are the ones astray. Save yourself if you can, because in Rio the guns are smoking.»
MC Frank: «If you are born inside a favela community, and you are there to tell what happens inside that community, you have to proudly assume you are telling what is going on inside that community.»
MC Frank was arrested in 2010, together with other five MCs. He was accused of crime incitation for singing a style known in Rio de Janeiro as «proibidão», or forbidden funk.
MC Leonardo: When I’m singing what I’m seeing, and what I’m feeling, you are not talking about will but about duties.»
DJ Marlboro, DJ and producer: «The boy who is singing, he is not glamourizing, he is describing what he sees.»
MC Frank: «You asked me about this, and I wanted to answer, about forbidden funk. I think I did not answered your question before, I kind of tried to escape the question. I think enough is enough, to sing about weapons, praising the crime, praising the weapons inside a favela community. It is time to change, to take funk to another style. So, I wanted to ask the youngster to write better lyrics, to think about it.
Following MC Frank’s arrest in 2010, Complexo do Alemão, one of the biggest favela conglomerates in Rio, was occupied by military forces for the installation of an Unit of Pacifying Police or UPP. UPP is a strategy devised by Rio de Janeiro State Government to control territories formerly dominated by organised crime.
Colonel Rodrigues, UPP commander: «These pacified communities will have a cultural appeal, the number of people moving there is going to increase, and these communities are not prepared to receive that amount of people, in terms of security, orderly flow of people. They lived a long time under informality, and what we need to fight right now is this informality, especially the informality of event’s production.
But, do you think the UPP is contributing to this process? Do you think the UPP is a positive thing?
MC Frank: «I think it was unnecessary.»
Mano Teko: «Our position is against the UPPs. Everything that is imposed, we cannot be in favour.»
MC Frank: «If you make a party, your daughter’s party. You live in the hill, you have the space. The party cannot go until midnight, it has to go until eleven o’clock. In the end… You are prisoner of a troop.»
Colonel Rodrigues: «You have to acoustically isolate your venue, prepare the place for people’s dispersion. And then, those issues won’t come to the police, and we won’t need to deal with it. But, we have to organize ourselves together with those that can solve their problems, to demand and improve, leaving this informality towards the formality that all of us need. Including the police, so we can work less, having more fun.»
MC Leonardo: «Some people say that the public opinion is in favour of the UPPs. There is no public opinion, what we have is a published opinion, which everyone follows without debate. The UPP itself is project made by the police for the favela, which is forced to swallow it: ‹That is the way it will be from now on›. It won’t work. People say, I support the UPP, to support is not enough. Go to a pacified favela and see the abysm that exists between the social and the action. Government only acted so-far with police. If you transform the UPP into Unit of Public Policy, I would agree. But, for now, the acronym stands for Unit of Parallel Power. They say they expelled the parallel power, but it still exists because the police has a kind of power inside the favelas now, that it does not have in other parts of the city.»
Rio’s Legislative Assembly
Public hearing about conflicts involving funkeiros and security agents
Charge: «The subject bringing us here today regards conflicts between popular cultural agents and public security agents. This is the subject bringing us here today for this public hearing.»
The implementation of an UPP is normally followed by the suspension of local community bailes funk. This prohibition is based in legal documents, laws or resolutions. Leading funk’s struggle to the State Legislative Assembly. Now funk is consumed all over town, including in posh nightclubs, but it is repressed in the communities where it flourished and acquired its identity.
Charge: «Funk is not a new theme in the Legislative Assembly, in 2008 we were contacted by a group of funkeiros. In the end of the year we had two law proposals ready to begin the debate around funk in this house. I like always to remember this, because the parliament when it works like this, it works in a much better way. The parliament when it open its doors and learn to listen what society is experiencing, the tendency is that we make projects that are much closer to reality, much more useful. And this was a big learning process that the funkeiros brought to this house.»
Public Voice: «According to Getulio Vargas Foundation half of the active population goes out to listen to funk, yet the other half will necessarily listen to funk at certain point during the night, may be at the end of the marriage party, but it will be there. Therefore funk is heard by every social strata, but it is produced, consumed, and publicised by the people of the favelas. But, to stop the baile, inside the favela, without measuring the noise, at last minute on the day, or during the event itself, saying its over. There is no culture that can endure, funk is enduring for all this time, because it found a place that respected no law. Which is the case with the favelas that today are pacified, how can you do a law for a place that the State does not enter? Okay, now the State is there. Now is time for the State to give guarantees. And this cannot be done only by police. It is not the role of the police to say yes or no.»
Popular pressure caused a discriminatory law against funk to be revoked, and a new one, affirming funk as a legitimate form of culture to be approved. However, there is still one legal piece used to preclude bailes funk called Resolution 013, issued by State Security Department.
Morro do Cantagalo: Roda de Funk
Guilherme, Apafunk activist: «We are here today demanding equality, funk has to be treated by the culture department. However, it continues to be threated as crime, as a threat. It continues to be treated by police and State Security Department.»
MC Leonardo: «Funk is culture, the biggest culture inside the favelas in number of artists and audience. Who lives inside the favela, like I did for the last thirty years inside Rocinha, I have the fourth grade, but I believe in mobilization. This is why I mobilized the class, saying that we should fight for our rights. It is not over yet, there is a lot more to fight for. Because a law is a piece of paper, is a weapon that you can use in your behalf. If no one uses it, it’s useless. All laws. Law is not change, is an instrument of change.
DJ Marlboro: We manage to change the law, but Resolution 013 is still there. This is a law that gives the power to police commanders to stop the bailes. Without any reasoning, anything, just because they don’t like funk.
MC Leonardo: «Today I have a wish to make to god, please look for your brothers, sons and daughters. Losses and unemployment, social violence, the higher classes have it, the lower class for one. Everything that happens in Rio de Janeiro, the blame falls every time on the hands of funkeiros. If a sea of roses becomes a sea of blood, you can be sure they will blame it on funk.»
Mano Teko: During that period, my vision was that politics has always to do with political parties. Today I see that what I do is politics, I’m not playing politics.»
Central do Brasil 14.06.2012: Roda de Funk
MC Dollores and Mc Leonardo: «Thank you! We together and mixed, if things turn bad I run away. Like Dicró used to say, who invented work had to be beaten. Work is only a mean to survival, the only way out. This is why I made this song called vagabond, and its there, on YouTube.»
Vagabond, both of us are vagabonds. Vagabonds don’t work, they do nothing for no one.