Rio prostitutes fret over facelift for World Cup and Olympics

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Rio prostitutes fret over facelift for World Cup and Olympics

Outside, an autumn chill descended on Vila Mimosa's main street – Rua Sotero dos Reis – and rain hammered down onto a sign promising "streeptease". Inside, hundreds of drunken men packed this sprawling warren of brothels and bars for another evening of shouted conversations and fleeting encounters with the 3,500 or so local prostitutes.

But the rowdy 24-hour parties that have made this labyrinth of excess notorious across Brazil may soon fall silent, as Rio de Janeiro prepares for a multi-billion dollar facelift in the run up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Rio's business association, Firjan, estimates that some R$250bn (£89bn) in public and private money will be invested in the city over the coming six years with plans for a number of ambitious interventions, including a R$130m museum designed by Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect behind Dublin's spectacular Samuel Beckett Bridge.

While most are celebrating the city's regeneration, Vila Mimosa's prostitutes and their employers are growing increasingly nervous that the city's makeover may see them driven out by mooted plans to bulldoze the area and replace it with a platform for a high-speed rail-link between Rio and Brazil's economic capital Sao Paulo.


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