A native of Rio, born in 1945, Maia was forced to leave Brazil in exile during the 1960s on account of his affiliation with the Brazilian Communist Party. Exiled in Chile, he obtained a degree in economics, but the 1973 coup in the country saw him return to his native land. After becoming Professor of Macroeconomics at the Fluminense Federal University in the neighbouring city of Niterói, Maia became active in the Democratic Labour Party (PDT), founded by deceased left populist Leonel Brizola. Maia supported Brizola’s campaign to become Governor of Rio de Janeiro state in 1983, as Brazil was emerging from the military-led regime towards full democracy, and was subsequently appointed Treasury Secretary for the state.
A trusted personal adviser to Brizola, who was instrumental in uncovering and denouncing the allegedly electoral fraud that threatened Brizola's gubernatorial election in 1982, the so-called Proconsult scheme, Maia was to be elected to the national Chamber of Deputies in 1986, and saw re-election in 1990. Meanwhile having achieved personal political proeminence in the late 1980s, Maia broke with Brizola and the PDT, affiliating with the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB) in 1991, being elected mayor of the city of Rio de Janeiro for the first time in 1992, defeating the Workers' Party candidate, Afro-Brazilian Benedita da Silva in a run-off election, in a campaign that was regarded by some as being driven by racist ideology. Maia subsequently left the PMDB and joined the Liberal Front Party (PFL).
Maia began his first term as mayor in the wake of an episode that mirrored the strained relationship between the social classes in Rio de Janeiro, the so-called arrastão (looting-rampage, or "dragnet") on October the 18th, which saw rival groups of youths from different shantytowns(galeras) and associated with various funk bands (funkeiros) sorting out their differences and going on to a looting-spree at Ipanema beach. Maia took the mantle of a "law and order" candidate, and after his inauguration tried a "no-nonsense" attitude, focused on new directions on public administration and urban intervention. He frequently courted media attention through the use of so-called factoids; small antics that went from the eccentric to the ridiculous, an example being his proposal of a special monetary unit that would be legal tender in Rio de Janeiro only. Given the bizarre character of some of these antics, some say that Maia from the start "wanted to build an image purposedly intended to appear as surprisingly as well as strange".
During his first term, Maia focussed his attention on projects such as "Rio Cidade", an urban renewal initiative targeted toward the city's commercial districts. The renewal would involve the repair and changing of sidewalks, urban furnishings, street lights, landscaping, as well as aesthetic redesigning of each neighbourhood in order to give it a specific visual identity. Rio-Cidade, however, was subjected from the outset to criticism regarding what was seen to be poor architectural choices, as in the case of a giant cast iron obelisk built in Ipanema, together with an elevated causeway that crossed a street, which was never opened to the public and was eventually razed in 2009 at the locals' behest. Rio-Cidade was also seem as a scheme for providing infrastructure for expansion of cable TV networks in wealthy districts Other programs included the construction a mayor urban highway called Linha Amarela, as well as the most important project of urbanization to the favelas as recognized by UNESCO, Favela-Bairro, a project which received a starting credit of 180 million US$ from Inter-American Development Bank. Favela-Bairro was a programme concerned mostly with providing basic utilities and public services (sewage systems, sidewalks, etc.) to a number of already existing shanty towns, while at the same time attempting to renovate the dwellings and their surroundings in aesthetical terms, a concern already expressed by Rio-Cidade. Favela-Bairro, however, as much as it was presented as a plan for drastic improvement of actual living conditions, was regarded as having failed in one of its chief concerns, that of blurring the boundaries between the "formal" city and the shantytown: in the words of scholar Janice Perlman, "there's still no doubt about where the asfalto ends and the morro begins". At the same time, by stating that favela residents could have access to proper urbanism if they behaved in an "ordely" fashion, Favela-Bairro perpetiated the stigma long associated to shantytown dwellers. Finally, Favela-Bairro was also seem as very limited in scope, as it concerned itself with only 27% of all Rio shanty-towns. After the ending of his first mayoral term, in which he was succeeded by one of his associates, the architect Luiz Paulo Conde, Maia chose to distance himself from the legacy of Favela Bairro, as the programme came to be fostered by Conde, who had meanwhile distanced himself from Maia. In the end, Favela Bairro achieved what was called by some as "anecdotal success at best". Similar criticism met many of Maia's other projects, as in the case of Linha Amarela, an express highway that caused the relocation of some 10,000 people in order to make way for a project that intended to foster private automobile traffic between the Barra da Tijuca district and downtown Rio.
Reelected in 2000 in a runoff election against his former protégé Conde - for which he had meanwhile joined the Brazilian Labour Party - Maia embarked on a controversial scheme, that of setting a branch of the Guggenheim Museum on the Rio waterfront, a US$ 200 million project - in partnership with controversial Guggenheim director Thomas Krens - which included a building desigened by French architect Jean Nouvel and whose cost would be borne entirely by the city in return for the prestige associated with the Guggenheim brand. The scheme was eventually shelved as a court decision declared the contract between the Rio City Hall and the Guggenheim Foundation to be against Brazilian law, the project being described as "as a piece of hubris and folly worthy of Maia's Roman namesake". In his second term, however, Maia embarked in various building schemes, such as: Cidade do Samba (Samba City) a complex of workshops in Rio's docking district that was to be used by samba schools as a basis for preparation of yearly Carnival parades that was inaugurated in 2005 - and was partially destroyed by a fire on 7th. February 2011; the Luiz Gonzaga Center for Northeastern Traditions, an old pavilion in downtown Rio long used for selling Northeastern traditional foods and wares that was refurbished for functioning both as a market and a showhouse - in what was seem as a "commodification" of traditional culture.
Easily reelected in 2004,this time again on the Democratas party ticket, Maia embarked in a whole gamut of public works linked to the successful Rio candidature for hosting the 2007 Pan American Games, including many works that were hotly contested as authoritarian, environmentally unfriendly, and in colusion with private building interests, such as the proposed works for the Gloria Marina, which included the construction of a huge garage for yachts - as well as a shopping mall - in the ladmark protected Aterro do Flamengo area, works which were shelved after being questioned by a public attorney. Works actually concluded, such as the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center, the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange and others, were regarded by many as simply an embarrassing legacy of "white elephants" - a Brazilian idiom for costly, only-for-show works and without any actual counterpart in urban infrastructure - a result reached after cost overruns that were actually six to ten times the original US$ 177 million budget. As he finished his term of office in early 2009, Maia also left a legacy of an unfinished and huge (1 million square feet) concert hall in Barra da Tijuca, the Cidade da Música (City of Music), designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc, that had cost some US$ 220 million and was left unused after it was declared as unsafe by the State's Fire Brigade. Finishing work on the City of Music premises continues, with actual inauguration lastly being set tentatively on July 2010, at a grand total cost of R$ 481.3 million (US$ 818.2 million); although most of the future activities are to be conceded to private contractors, it's forecast that the complex's operations will generate public spending in the order of R$ 247 million (US$ 420 million) for the next twenty-five years.
At the same time, during Maia's third term, the management of the city's public hospitals was deemed as so poor that in March 2005 the federal Ministry of Health decreed an intervention in health facilities jointly administered by the federal government and the city, two military field hospitals being set in order to deal with the ongoing jam. In early 2008, a dengue fever epidemic hit Rio, taking 54 lives at the three first months of the year, despite of Maia's declaring it to be a purely local occurrence at the same time charging the Minister of Health of "criminal neglect" for supposedly having failed to forewarn Rio of the oncoming disease surge. In late March 2008, Maia traveled to Salvador for attending a party event and declared that he had "prayed to the Senhor do Bonfim to blow away the Rio mosquitos to the sea" and that he had travelled to Bahia "in order to bring Rio the strong spiritual vibes we have here". Also in early 2008, Maia had to face a citizens' boycott on the property tax on real state assets (IPTU).
2008 and 2010 Political setbacks
The poor evaluation of his third term eventually made Maia unable to exert a meaningful influence in the 2008 mayoral elections, in which his party's candidate, Maia's Secretary of Housing Solange Amaral fared a poor 6th. in the elections' first round, with 3.92% of the valid ballots. In 2010 Maia ran for the Senate and, in the race for two senatorial seats, came 4th., with 11% of the State's voting, in what was described as the worst defeat of his whole career.
- Angela Maria de Castro Gomes, ed.Direitos e cidadania: memória, política e cultura . Rio de Janeiro: FGV, 2007, ISBN 978-85-225-0626-2 , page 185
- Flora Neves, TELEJORNALISMO E PODER NAS ELEIÇOES PRESIDENCIAIS . São Paulo: Summus, 2008, ISBN 978-85-323-0513-8, page 51
- During his 1992 campaign, Maia declared Rio to have an "image" (i.e., a brand) that could not risk being associated to a black woman openly avowing sympathies with the destitute - cf. Michael Mitchell, "Racial Consciousness, Afro-Brazilian Electoral Strategies, and Regime Change in Brazil", IN Georgia Anne Persons, ed. Race and ethnicity in comparative perspective. The National Political Science Review, Volume 7, 199, ISBN 0-7658-0435-2 , pages 75/76
- In early 1993, already as mayor, Maia would complain to the Brazil's Foreign Ministry about issuing tourist - as well as political asylum - visas to people from Angola without requiring them to undergo testing for AIDS, as "this sudden arrival of thousands of foreigners" posed " a serious epidemiological risk". Cf. James Brooke "Haven in Rio Quite Hostile For Angolans", The New York Times, July 11, 1993, available at 
- George Yúdice, The expediency of culture: uses of culture in the global era. Duke University Press, 2003, pages 118 and 131.
- Robert M. Levine, Brazilian legacies. Armonk, NY : E.M. Sharpe, 1997, ISBN 0-7656-0009-9, pages 176/178
- "A guinada de Cesar Maia para o social-liberalismo". Tribuna da Imprensa, October the 3rd. 2004, available at 
- Luiz Eduardo Soares, Meu casaco de general: 500 dias no front da segurança pública do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro: Cia. das Letras, 2000, ISBN 85-359-0079-9 , page 201
- Nezar AlSayyad, ed., Consuming tradition, manufacturing heritage: global norms and urban forms in the age of tourism. London: Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0-415-23941-9 , pages 278/279
- Photo at
- Cf. Virtual Tourist site
- "Passarela em frente ao Obelisco de Ipanema será demolida". G1 newssite , 21st. August 2009, available at 
- Polemikos site
- Camille Goirand, La politique des favélas . Paris: Khartala, 2000, ISBN 2-84586-123-0, page 97
- Elisabeth Blum & Peter Neitzke, eds., Favelametropolis: Berichte und Projekte aus Rio de Janeiro und São Paulo. Berlin: Bauverlag, 2004, ISBN 3-7643-7063-7, page 27
- Roberto Segre, Tres décadas de reflexiones sobre el hábitat latinoamericano. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2005, ISBN 958-96155-3-8, page 2,023
- Perlman, Favela: Four Decades of Living on the Edge in Rio De Janeiro. Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-19-536836-9 , page 281
- Nezar AlSayyad, ed., Consuming tradition, manufacturing heritage, 286
- Rose Compans, Empreendedorismo urbano: entre o discurso e a prática. São Paulo: UNESP, 2005, ISBN 85-7139-570-5, page 239
- Edesio Fernandes & Márcio Moraes Valença, eds., Brasil Urbano. Rio de janeiro: MAUAD, 2004, ISBN 85-7478-147-9 , page 205
- Regis St. Louis, Rio de Janeiro, Lonely Planet city guide, 2006, ISBN 978-1-74059-910-8 , page 46
- Rosemere Santos Maia, '"A Produção do Espaço em Áreas de Auto-Segregação: O Caso da Barra daTijuca". Anuário do Instituto de Geociências - UFRJ, Volume 21 / 1998. Available at 
- "Luiz Paulo Conde e Cesar Maia vão para o 2º turno no Rio", Valor on line, October 2, 2000, available at 
- "Guggenheim Loses Top Donor in Rift on Spending and Vision". The New York Times, January 20, 2005, available at 
- "Plans for Rio Guggenheim are dead in the water". Mail & Guardian online, January 28, 2005, available at 
- "A No-Go for the Guggenheim Rio?". Allbusiness.com , August 1, 2003
- "Priorities Questioned in Face of Rio's Ritzy Museum Plan". Los Angeles Times, November 29, 2004, available at 
- Travelstripe.com site
- "Grande Incêndio atinge a Cidade do Samba, na Gamboa". O Globo, 7 February 2011, available at 
- Viviani de Moraes Freitas Ribeiro, " A (DES)CONSTRUÇÃO DO ESPAÇO CARIOCA NA ‘ERA CESAR MAIA’ (1993-2008)". Ph.D thesis in Urban Planning, IPPUR/UFRJ, pages 25/26; available at 
- Fernando Soares Campos, "A vaia ensaiada pela claque de Maia", NovaE blog, 
- Gilmar Mascarenhas & Fátima Cristina da S. Borges, "Entre o empreendedorismo urbano e a gestão democrática da cidade:dilemas e impactos do Pan-2007 na Marina da Glória". Universidade Federal Fluminense, paper, 2008, available at 
- "El Pan y sus juegos neoliberales". A Nova Democracia, Spanish Edition, 
- "Reinventing Rio", Smithsonian.com, available at
- Chris McGowan, "Rio and the 2016 Summer Olympics", The Huffington Post, October 2, 2009, available at 
- Stuart Grudgings, "Grand 'City of Music' sparks disharmony in Rio". Reuters, December 30, 2008, available at 
- "Conclusão da Cidade da Música fica para 2011", O Globo, 20 October 2010, available at 
- "Ministério da Saúde quer reassumir gestão de hospitais no Rio", Folha de S. Paulo, April 28, 2005. Available at 
- "Brazil Battles Mass Dengue Fever Outbreak", CBS News site, April 3, 2008, available at 
- "Cesar Maia nega epidemia de dengue". G1 newssite, March 26, 2008, available at 
- "Cesar Maia acusa ministério de omissão 'criminosa' por dengue". O Estado de São Paulo, March 26, 2008, available at 
- "Cesar Maia diz que aplicou o triplo do programado para dengue". G1 newssite, 27 March 2008, available at 
- "Da zona norte à sul, Rio faz ato de boicote ao IPTU". Folha de S. Paulo, January 21, 2008, available at 
- "Derrota de Solange marca o fim da Era Cesar Maia no Rio". O Globo, October 6, 2008, available at 
- "Cesar Maia fica em quarto lugar e sofre a pior derrota da sua carreira", O Globo, October 4, 2010
|Mayor of Rio de Janeiro
Luiz Paulo Conde
Luiz Paulo Conde
|Mayor of Rio de Janeiro