Brazilian police break up protest artwork on Copacabana beach

A faux favela built on Copacabana beach in Rio to protest at the lack of an Olympic legacy for the city's poor has been broken up by police, who said it was blocking access to the beach.

Activists from the Rio de Paz protest group, who use art to highlight social issues like violence against women and public security, erected mock shacks, an open sewer, and a bullet-peppered Brazilian flag on Saturday morning.

The fake favela portrayed the reality of life for many in Rio Credit: Reuters

At 8am local time, security officials from the National Guard arrived and asked them to pull down the installation, which was supposed to be on display until Saturday evening.

Activists sat on the sand, many of them with tape over their mouths to symbolise the lack of a voice for the excluded and unseen poor in Rio, as guards pulled apart the wooden shacks built next to the Olympic rings on the beach.

Antonio Carlos Costa, founder of Rio de Paz, said: "This is the first time that we've ever had a protest on Copacabana stopped like this since we started in 2007.

"It shows how much officials are preoccupied about the public image of the city at the moment."

Police destroy the fake favela Credit: Reuters

In a statement, the National Guard said it had "not stopped the protest but only removed structures erected on the sand as they were blocking access for beachgoers."

For Costa and the other activists, the Olympics have brought little for the city's poor, who live in bad conditions in favelas in the city without access to sanitation or security.

"Never before has the Olympics been held in such an unequal city. The public money spent on the Games has left no legacy at all for the poor of Rio," Costa said.

Although the Olympics is costing Rio about $12 billion, he said, investment has improved transport for the city's elite but not benefited the wider population.

He said: "We wanted to show the reality of Rio's favelas, the rats, the shacks, the bodies covered by bin bags, the stray bullets."