As Brazilian cities prepare for the FIFA World Cup competition this year, and Rio plans to host the Summer Olympics in 2016, the massive displacement of poor families near redevelopment projects has become a major issue. The evictions and related controversies have led to political protests across the country.
According to human rights groups, some 3,000 families have already been evicted from their homes in Rio alone. As many as 200,000 people across the country are at risk of the same, according to the Popular Committees for the World Cup and Olympics. On the other hand, government officials say those who have been moved now live in government housing that is far superior to where they lived before.
A recent NPR report by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro focuses on the evictions from Vila Autódromo, slated for demolition for the Olympic complex. This particular case has previously been the subject of reports in the New York Times and other publications.
Besides the personal disruptions of the evictions, people complain they are being sent to remote places. Displaced Jeane Tomas was moved to a place called the OITI complex — a barren, treeless, apartment compound in a Rio suburb called Campo Grande, miles away from where Tomas lived in Barra de Tijuca.
"Our lives were built around were we lived. The transport is awful here. They talk about this special bus line they built for us out here but it’s not the miracle they say it is. Its chaos," she said. "There are days when the air-conditioning works, others when it doesn’t. We wait for hours to get out of here."
The housing is new though and the people live there at a relatively low cost. They pay a small condo fee and utilities. They don’t own these homes, though, and they can’t rent them to others. Jeane Tomas complains there are no schools nearby for her child. She says her husband lost his job because suddenly he was so far away from it.
Historically, favelas have repeatedly been displaced when they are in the way of redevelopment projects, so the case of Vila Autódromo is nothing new. But given the sensitivities that have arisen around the upcoming games, the case has received widespread publicity.
What are the pros and cons of these evictions? Read all about the issue here…