Mariluce Mariá de Souza is a community leader from Complexo do Alemão - one of Rio’s largest favela groupings with over 200,000 inhabitants (unofficial estimates) - who uses social media to advocate for social justice in the region. Mariluce’s family has strong historical ties with the territory; she was born in the complex and raised there by her grandmother, Alexandrina Maria de Souza, Alemão’s second resident and a missionary whose life was dedicated to helping and sheltering favela dwellers in need. Her experiences growing up and knowledge of the territory led to an early interest in working for and with the community. Some of the initiatives she has been involved throughout the years with include taking leadership in resident’s residential claims post-pacification, working in a beauty salon that developed into a support stand to young women victim of abuse from part of the drug traffickers, as well as directing an NGO dedicated to advancing life opportunities to women at Alemão (Nucleus of Brazilian Women in Action). Mariluce is currently responsible for managing two Facebook pages dedicated to the complex with a combined audience of almost 20,000 followers. She has turned social media tools into important platforms for denouncing human rights violations from part of the police, sharing news and updates of common interest to the community, and opening up a space so dwellers can make their voices heard. The pages have been particularly important in terms of serving as “warning” instruments to Alemão’s residents, as almost daily turf wars and shootouts between criminals and the police have been taking place in the community, endangering the population and claiming lives. In addition, Mariluce is a social entrepreneur and the co-owner of a local tourism company that brings in visitors from around the world to Alemão (Rio Favela Tour). She is also an artist whose graceful paintings portray the community’s most famous sceneries.
This presentation was presented during CDDRL's Program on Poverty and Governance's 2015 conference, "Educational and Entrepreneurial Initiatives to Support Youth in Places of Violence." The conference was held on April 28-29, 2015, at Stanford University.
For more information on the Program on Poverty and Governance, please visit: cddrl.fsi.stanford.edu/povgov.
For more information on Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, please visit: cddrl.fsi.stanford.edu.