The Financial Times gets it right: favelas have become better incrementally. As the article explains, "Rather than wipe slums from the map, the authorities looked to civilise them and integrate them into the urban fabric. Roads have been asphalted, water pipes and electricity lines extended into squatted settlements. Further measures ranging from the provision of street names and house numbers to the granting of legal titles to properties have been a feature of this approach, as have moves to introduce schools, clinics and regular policing."
In his dispatch from Diadema, a town of some 400,000 people on the southern edge of São Paulo, reporter Richard Lapper finds a community of "brightly painted cheap restaurants, beauty parlours and stalls selling fruit juice. Children play football and swim in a well-equipped sports facility financed by local employers. From a central bus station, modern coaches ferry residents to São Paulo's underground railway network, reaching the centre of the city in a little over an hour."
In other words, the squatter community is actually a real neighborhood. It's terrific. And it's terrific to see this transformation -- the product more of what people have done themselves than what government has done for them -- honored in a mainstream paper.
[Thanks to Tom Neilssen for the FT link.]