As the entire world awaits the start of the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro this August, there is one thing that Brazilian officials are reportedly trying desperately to hide — the extreme poverty in the city.
Over 11 million people in Brazil live in favelas, shanty towns that often house some of the nation's poorest. Rio spent 39.1 billion reais (about 12 billion U.S. dollars) in upgrades for the Olympics — a sum that seems unconscionable to many, considering the needs of the city's most vulnerable residents.
"They don't have sewage systems, and they don't have housing rights," Tomas Ramos, parliamentary assistant in the Rio state legislature, told VOX.
Instead of addressing the existing poverty, Rio allegedly covered it up by moving bus routes away from the shanty towns and hiding the poor homes behind a large wall.
But that's not even the worst thing Rio reportedly did.
To make room for the new Olympic village and real estate for wealthy citizens, Rio activists claim that an estimated 77,000 impoverished Brazilians were evicted from their homes. As a result, the homelessness problem grew overnight, with thousands of people living in the streets of Rio.
Photographer Felipe Barcellos recently noticed a homeless woman sleeping near a road in Rio that was renovated for the Olympics. To him, she represented all that Brazil was covering up.
"I spotted the woman as she was laying down just outside the tunnel painted with the #Rio2016 promo design," Barcellos told BuzzFeed. "I decided to take a photo and talk to her."
Barcellos' photo received over 19,000 shares as of Wednesday and is helping to shed light on the plight of Rio's most vulnerable citizens.
The displacement of the poor in Rio seems to be slowing down thanks to citizens' successful protests, which have gained favorable international attention. Now city officials in Rio must allocate some of their Olympic funds to provide more education, better healthcare and improved housing for Rio's poorest citizens.