independent | With year-round sun and some of Brazil's best beaches, Recife draws a million foreign tourists a year, many of them on new direct flights from Britain and the rest of Europe. It seems odd then to find an electronic sign in the middle of the city which records the daily murder toll. But behind the narrow stretch of beach restaurants and high-rise apartments shown in the tourist brochures lies a violent city. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in Recife in the past year – up to 12 murders a day - making it Brazil's murder capital. Incredibly many of those who are doing the killing are the police.
So routine is murder in Recife that a small group of residents installed the electronic body count. Eduardo Machado, the group's chief organiser, explained that it was an attempt to shock the city fathers into action because, he claims, at present they are turning a blind eye.
"It's a perverse kind of killing," said Mr Machado. "I call it social cleansing because the people being killed are normally black, they're poor and they're from the slums that surround the city. They have become what I call 'the killables'."
Many of "the killables" are no more than children who've been driven on to the city's streets by the crushing poverty and violence of their homes in the sprawling slums – or favelas – that stretch back from the city.