| ||With 17,5 million inhabitants, the São Paulo metropolitan area is the largest in Brazil. Deep social inequalities are leading to increasingly sharp spatial segregation. Districts wholly inhabited by the rich are turning into cities within the city, protected by security guards, watched by cameras, and surrounded by high walls to keep out the violence and misery that surround them. At the other extreme are the shantytowns (favelas), which were home to 1.1 percent of the population in 1973, increasing to 19.4 percent in 1993. In this new social partitioning, private enclaves are being created within public space. These are the Brazilian equivalent of the “gated communities” of wealthy suburban America. This spatial fragmentation is accompanied by a privatization of the urban environment which ultimately threatens democracy, as democracy cannot function in the absence of public space.
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