Federal forces on patrol in Complexo da Mar before the 2014 World Cup in Rio. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Since 2010 the community has been fenced off from the highway by huge Perspex panels. The authorities claim they provide an acoustic barrier; the locals describe it as a wall of shame.
Last week the city began plastering the 3-metre-high, 7km stretch of panels with Olympic posters, at a cost of 200m reais. Its not to hide the favela, Rios secretary of tourism told the newspaper O Folha de So Paulo. Its to decorate the city to get it into the Olympic spirit.
Gizele Martins, a journalist and resident, disagrees. Its just another way of hiding poor people, she says. Like they have always tried to hide us away.
For Martins, aside from the possibility of a few extra jobs during the Games, there is no upside to the event.
Since the Pan-American Games in 2007 we have been fighting these mega-events: the Confederations Cup, the World Cup, now the Olympics. Rio would have been a much better city without them; as it is, it is one of the most expensive and unequal on Earth.
Her main hope for the Games is that there is no repeat of the security arrangements put in place for the World Cup, when the army occupied Mar for several months before, during and after the event.
Others are more unambiguously enthusiastic about the economic benefits the Games will bring.
In Rocinha, the huge favela between the tourist hub of the South Zone and Barra da Tijuca, the site of the Olympic Village, Maria Clara dos Santos, 52, is sprucing up her apartment as she prepares for a major influx of paying visitors. Her home is a striking yellow-painted building, halfway up a steep ramp at the top of Rocinha, with a spectacular view of the Atlantic ocean and the maze of frenetic activity in the favela below.
She rented out her place for the first time during the World Cup, and it proved such a success that her house has become a kind of stop on a photographic tour of Rocinha, complete with its own little souvenir shop.
Of course, I hope to make a bit of money to invest in my place, but its also great to swap experiences with people from all over the world, share a barbecue on the rooftop, she says, adding that she is now booked up for the period of the Games.
For others, the Olympics will be an opportunity to showcase talents they have spent years perfecting. For Favela Brass, a musical NGO that is described by its founder, Tom Ashe, as City of God meets Brassed Off, the Games mean 16 days straight of public performances in various high-profile venues across the city.
For Marcos Carvalho, 14, a jazz fan who has been learning the snare drum and the euphonium over the past five years, it is a moment of huge excitement. Its going to be great for us to do all these shows, he says. Weve got to take advantage of these opportunities. But even he acknowledges that the climate ahead of the Olympics is considerably more downbeat than it was ahead of the World Cup in 2014. The country wasnt in crisis then, he says.
Cariocas notoriously leave everything until the last minute, and there is a widespread belief that the same will be true of their enthusiasm for the Games. Ticket sales have been disappointing over the past year, though they have picked up in the past week. Organisers say close to 75% of seats are now filled and a major advertising push will begin this week to lift this proportion higher.
Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio 2016 organising committee, said the mood was starting to improve as attention switched from preparation problems to sport. Were still swimming in a rough sea, he acknowledged. But we are much better than we were. We are on the right track. Im far more confident, comfortable and bullish than I have ever been.
Others are not so sure. Brazil is an emotional rollercoaster. Either we think we are the best or the worst in the world there is no middle. We live these positive and negative emotions without a middle ground, said Marcos Guterman, an author. He said it was necessary to recognise that Brazil was not wealthy or developed enough to host the Olympics, particularly now that attention is focused on other more important concerns. Were in the middle of a crisis economic, political, moral … With all these excruciating problems, the priority of Brazil is simply not the realisation of the Games.
The true impact of hosting the Olympics on diplomacy, tourism and trade can take a decade to spot, and official studies often stop after two years. Plus there is never a control, to show outcomes without the Games. But plans for rejuvenated landscapes and kickstarted sporting interests can be monitored – and rarely come off.
Host cities: what happened next?
Los Angeles 1984
The Russians boycotted these Games in revenge for the American boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. All the bling was intended as an advert for capitalism and the Games did make money, partly due to Coca-Colas sponsorship. Cleverly, they also built no new stadiums.
Ten years after the Games, analysis showed an almost 100% increase in tourism. Overall infrastructure investment, at $7.5bn, was the most expensive until Beijing in 2008. But the city, neglected under Franco, had already enjoyed a renaissance.
After Montreal, almost bankrupted by the Games of 1976, Atlanta 1996 is North Americas biggest flop. Intended to signal the citys arrival as a world player, the Olympics revealed Atlantas inadequate transport system and sticky climate. Then there was a bomb explosion in the park.
An Australian study of the impact of the Games found little change in visitors views of the city, other than that South Africans had gone off the whole country because of the way in which the Aboriginal issue was highlighted, reminding them of apartheid.
Now the poster boy for failed Olympic legacy, as weeds grow up through its facilities. The Games cost contributed to the teetering of the Greek economy, but did allow for modernisation in the capital, including the setting up of an international security network.