The North East is where the Portuguese first arrived in Brazil and where African slaves were first put to work on sugar plantations.
Today, the local economy is based on tourism. With a shoreline 7,500 kilometers long of pristine beaches and tropical shores, the region has been established as a popular destination for European and Brazilian tourists, with direct flights connecting the region’s main cities with the European capitals every day.
At the same time, the region experiences the paradox of being one of the world’s most violent places.
According to the Mexican civil society organization Seguridad, Justicia y Paz, which surveys annually based on homicide rates by 100 thousand inhabitants, Brazil is the country with the highest number of cities among the 50 most violent urban areas in the world. There are 17 Brazilian cities listed in the ranking, the majority of those are located in the Brazilian North East. Cities like Fortaleza and Natal, which house some of the world’s most famous beaches, have registered respectively more than 3270 and 1378 homicides in 2017, attesting as the two most violent cities in Brazil today.
Analysts attribute the rise in violence in the region a culture of violence born through impunity, weak state institutions and centuries of savage inequality, exacerbated by drug trafficking networks which have expanded greatly throughout the North East region in recent years.
This is an ongoing project that aims to capture a diverse glimpse on Brazil’s violence phenomena and explore the Brazilian North East, highlighting the deep contrast between the gated communities where rich Brazilians and tourists stay, with the gritty urban periphery where most of the murders happen.