Clare Richardson (@clarer)

Just a month after the Olympics, Rio hit the brakes on a controversial gondola built over Complexo do Alemão ahead of the Games. The cables running over the favela in the north of the city used to transport people to the top of this hill, but Rio is facing a major financial crisis and can’t afford to operate the service anymore. On paper, the gondola wasn’t constructed specifically for the Olympics. Yet many saw it as a white elephant built to impress international visitors and give tourists a “favela experience” without stepping foot in the sprawling neighborhood below, where the security situation is precarious and shoot-outs are commonplace. Opponents say the hugely expensive project was a real slap in the face for local residents, who still lack access to basic infrastructure like a sewage system. Local tour guide François Camargo, pictured above, disagrees. He thinks the gondola provided vital transportation, reducing some commute times from an hour to ten minutes and opening a new market for local businesses like juice shops and souvenir stalls to cater to the traffic. The top station had also housed a small library and health clinic, which have both been closed. Even the project’s fiercest critics agree: if they were going to build the damn thing, the least they could do is keep it running.

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