So there has been this proposal for some time now about building walls around the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Most of these walls are being built in the Zona Sul (or wealthier beach side) section of the city. Essentially these walls are building up a barrier between the very wealthy and very poor of Brasil. This of course raises questions about injustice, government corruption and silencing of the weak or those lacking influence. The government states that this plan was create to protect Rio’s Atlantic forest from ever encroaching slums.
CNN recently did a video piece about these walls, interviewing both people who living in the favelas as well as state officials. Check it out: http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2009/12/08/darlington.brazil.wall.cnn
From my somewhat limited knowledge on the topic, I would have to lean in favor of the environment. Favelas by nature are squatter communities and have little or no regulation to where or how far up a mountain a house can be built. I’m sure there is a better way this could have been done, but saying these walls are making prisoners of the residents is an overreaching argument.