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This chapter introduces aspects of the sociopolitical, economic, and physical conditions of the Pelourinho neighborhood. By the mid-1990s the ongoing reforms of the Pelourinho had divided the neighborhood into two main areas: a gleaming restored shrine to Bahian culture and an area of decaying colonial mansions and working-class residences portrayed by police and gentrification authorities as the center of the city’s prostitution and drug trades. In late 1997 a nascent social movement called S.O.S. Children of the Historical Center, made up almost entirely of Pentecostal Protestant former “street children” and the illegitimate sons and daughters of powerful Bahian men and Pelourinho prostitutes, began to organize its neighbors.

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