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São Paulo City Center Brings out Our Least Human Side

08/02/2018 - 13h08

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ROBERTO DIAS
MANAGING EDITOR

The city center of São Paulo is the degradation of human beings, a friend who lives in the city told me as soon as I moved here.

Not even he, with his inborn pessimism, could imagine the level of degradation that would come. For more than two decades I have come to work in the central region of the richest city in the country every day. I cannot remember anything close to what my eyes see now.

Cris Faga/Folhapress
São Paulo City
São Paulo City

There are people sleeping in the ground between avenues, squeezed between lanes with buses driving few inches away from their heads. There are people sleeping between parked cars. There are people sleeping in the garbage.

Given the clear increase in the number of homeless people in the city, the City Hall has decided to move up the census of this population. It is estimated that the number has reached 20,000, which represents more people than shelters available.

There should be some kind of improbity law against managers incapable of offering a solution for something that so strongly attacks human dignity. This is not a case of a problem too big that the public coffers cannot deal with.

Taba Benedicto/Folhapress
The 'Crackland
The 'Crackland'

These people's situation, as it is easy to imagine, is the most critical iceberg tip of total negligence that appears in many ways in the city center.

The sidewalls are swarming with electrical wires still on the floor even after supposedly being repaired. Traffic lights are wild technology.

Waze was not told about the existence of the city's "crackland," because drivers experience minutes of absolute horror as they trust their phones so blindly. A moveable police station makes people unsafe as it pushes them off the sidewalk.

European cities have already housed city centers in the same state as that of São Paulo - perhaps, about 500 years ago. Or, who knows, in an extreme situation; last week a Folha article described the scenario as "a city abandoned after a war." Transformed into an everyday landscape, the chaos brings out our least human side.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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