Just after midnight, in the early morning of 23 July 1993, a group of men, later identified as off-duty policemen, opened fire on a group of street children sleeping rough outside one of Rio de Janeiro's most prominent landmarks - the Church of Our Lady of the Candelaria. The incident became known as the Candelaria Massacre and it roused the people of Rio - the Cariocas - from their normal accommodation with violence and took them to the streets in protest.Shortly before the shootings at the church the policemen picked up three boys returning to Candelaria from the beach and took them off in their car to be shot elsewhere. Shot and left for dead, one of them survived. His survival altered the political landscape. His name is Wagner dos Santos. This is his story."Surviving Candelaria" is not only Wagner Santos' intensely tragic, involving and fascinating personal history, but also a glimpse into the dark complexities and cultural landscape of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities in the world in one of the most vibrant countries in the world.
Julia Rochester is editor and co-owner of the small independent publishing company Corvo Books. She worked for Amnesty International for six years, heading its research and campaigning desk for Brazil. She lives in London with her husband and daughter.