Explaining Brazil #44: How São Paulo killed its rivers

This week’s podcast, How São Paulo killed its rivers, was supported by Voom, an Airbus company. Voom is an on-demand helicopter booking platform that allows its passengers to fly between nine different helipads in the city of São Paulo from Monday to Saturday for less than BRL 500.

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If you arrive in São Paulo through the International Airport of Guarulhos, one of the first sights you’ll have of Latin America’s biggest metropolis is the Tietê river.

And believe me, it is not the most pleasant of welcomes. It is hard to know what is worse: the smell or the visual aspect of the Tietê River. It’s impossible to escape the stench of sewage while driving along the riverbanks heading towards the city center. It only makes it clear that the biggest river in the state of São Paulo is mostly dead. And while the Tietê might be the most flagrant example of how São Paulo’s urbanism developed to the detriment of the city’s rivers, it is far from the only instance.

This week, as São Paulo celebrates its 465th anniversary, we will talk about a less festive aspect of Brazil’s cultural and financial capital: How São Paulo killed its rivers.

On this podcast

Gustavo Ribeiro has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de São Paulo, Médiapart and Radio France Internationale. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Abril Prize for outstanding political journalism. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

Renato Cymbalista is an architect and urbanist and holds a Ph.D. from the University of São Paulo, and a post-doctorate degree from the University of Campinas. He taught at the Brandenburg University of Technology and at the University Paris-Diderot. He was also a deputy editor at the Brazilian Journal of Regional and Urban Studies.

This podcast was produced by Maria Martha Bruno. She is a journalist with 14 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others, and worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.

This podcast was co-produced by Euan Marshall. He is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Independent and Jacobin Magazine, among others. In 2014, he authored a comprehensive history of Brazilian soccer entitled “A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.”

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