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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 18:03 GMT
Brazil's Lula makes Rio slum trip
President Lula is hugged by a favela resident. 30 November 2007
The president's initiative has been welcomed by many residents
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has visited a favela, or shanty town, in Rio de Janeiro - his first such trip as president.

The favela of Cantagalo had seen recent clashes between police and drug gangs, and strategic roads were blocked before the visit to improve security.

The president formally launched a revitalisation programme for the area.

It is part of a plan to help restore infrastructure in some of Rio's best-known favelas.

Police raid

On the day before the visit, scores of council workers cleared away rubbish from along the route to be taken by the president.

A run-down building in the Cantagalo  favela, Rio de Janeiro
The infrastructure in Rio's favelas should be improved under the plan

The week before police had gone into the area searching for a suspect involved in the killing of an Italian tourist - a raid that ended with an exchange of shots.

The president's decision to inject cash into the favelas seems to be generally welcome among local people.

Community leader Luiz Bezerra Do Nascimento said that while the government had been slow to act, it was good news.

"The mistake of the government was to neglect the communities, to leave them on the margins, and people created a disorganised society," he said.

"There was a lack of any official presence, but thank God, this has come late but this is finally coming."

National and local authorities have together pledged capital to improve living standards in some of the most well-known of Rio's favelas.

However, there are reports that state authorities are still debating which should come first - confronting the city's drug gangs with force or social policies to help revitalise local communities.

Slum dwellers give their reaction to the visit

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