José Ronilson da Silva

"So residents left, but it was for what they got, they left for money. But those who stayed, those who are here now, it was for Vila Autodromo"

Coming from
Vila autódromo Vila autódromo

Now living in
Vila autódromo Vila autódromo

My name is Jose Ronilson da Silva, I am 35 years old. At the moment, I am a doorman. I intend to live here, but we’ll be living here provisionally. Those white containers over there, that’s where we are going to live for three months. When the three months are over, we are going to come back here again, with the houses already ready.

We had a meeting with City Hall, and they showed us the contract, that will urbanise Vila Autodromo, owing too to those people who helped us. He [the mayor Eduardo Paes] saw it wasn’t going well, what they were doing, and it was harming him, harming his image. So he called the Vila Autodromo residents together to show us the project for Vila Autodromo that they had, only Mayor Eduardo Paes, he didn’t want to show us the project.

Some residents accepted leaving on good terms. So, he showed us the project, said ‘we are going to urbanise it there, every family will receive their own home,’ so I am waiting now definitively to get my house. It is a bit of a pain, having to move all the time – go to the container, afterwards, back to the house. Now they have paid for another container which will store our things, as the provisional homes are very small, so we’re just going to have the basics there for the next three months.

It’s a disappointment, because a lot of people have lived here for a very long time, since the time of Brizola [former Rio governor]. It’s a peaceful community. It never had drug gangs, it never had militias. Sometimes, the militia tried to get in, but they never managed it. Because apart from being a community which is close to Barra, it isn’t on a hill, it’s flat. Therefore if drug gangs or militias tried to take over, they wouldn’t have anywhere to hide as it’s made up of one main street here. In other places, you have small alleyways which they can use to get away from the police. So it was always peaceful here. There are people from those condominiums who come in somtimes, and no one messes with them. No one has ever been messed with here.

So residents left, but it was for what they got, they left for money. But those who stayed, those who are here now, it was more for Vila Autodromo, they saw it wasn’t so advantageous outside of the community, and things will be much better here afterwards. The group who stayed didn’t think it was good to leave, not even for money.

The nostalgia that I feel is more about having a lot of people around, you know? Now it’s like being in the countryside, even on a Saturday or Sunday it’s the same thing, it doesn’t change. The footfall is the same. Before, one house was alongside another, you couldn’t see a lot. Now, sitting here, you can see the main street outside, you can watch a car going up and down the viaduct. It’s not awful, but it could be better.

I feel like for those of us that stayed, the ground went from here to there, there was dust everywhere, when we threw water, the dust came constantly, it would get on top of us. When they started the demolition for real, it was difficult. The manhole covers that you can see here, they were destroyed by the construction vehicles. This over here, when they came to knock down this house in front, where that car is, they broke this manhole cover. I had to fight for them to put a sewer lid on it. Because I’ve got a daughter, and she ran the risk of falling into a manhole like that. So it was a damn fight just to get them to put a lid on it.

So it wasn’t easy, no. Until now, it’s been difficult. Right now, it’s a bit calmer, but it was rough, difficult… This threat was more psychological. “Because if you stay, you are going to have to leave, be it happily or painfully. Because there is no soft option “ So if there is no soft option, there is no need to negotiate a price for my house. “No, but look, why do you think everyone around you is leaving? So you, someone who cares a lot about your family…because, if you stay, your family could really suffer the consequences.”

It was more psychological. Even my father was pressurised a lot into leaving his house. So it was difficult. This girl on the other side was also pressurised, also psychologically. It’s the way they like to work, isn’t it? Renata was one of them, also Maria Pecanha from City Hall. Only they don’t use uniforms, nor name badges. There was one here that was… I forgot his name right now, he came here to remove the boy over there, and he wasn’t wearing a uniform or a name badge. And there was a boy inside the community, he knew something about the law and he asked why he wasn’t using a uniform. And he said it wasn’t necessary, that it was in the car. Afterwards, he took him to the police precinct, saying that he wasn’t using anything to identify himself with. So he started using a vest identifying himself as being from City Hall as a result. So for some, he acted differently, and when you have more knowledge, he changes the way he speaks to you. So it’s difficult…

Reporter: Victor Gama e Júlia Faber

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