Steliano Francisco dos Santos
"I got here in the 1980s, I was the first one to arrive here"
Now living in
I got here in the 1980s, I was the first one to arrive here. There was no one here. Just me. I used to go fishing here, then it gradually filled up, one arrived and then another. I am from Pernambuco state, and I lived at first in Cidade de Deus. I payed rent there, when I came here it was all unoccupied, and I thought, I’ll make a little hut here, I’m a fisherman. I already came to fish before, but I would come in the morning – no, because I worked all night long, I was tired – but when I arrived, I used to say one day I am still going to build a hut here. I went to find the place I live now, a little place.
When I arrived here, I bought a wardrobe there in Vargem, but when we got here it was all broken… my car couldn’t get past, so I left the wood there, I was on my own, me and just me and Jesus, then my wife came from Vargem. I stopped paying rent there (Cidade de Deus) and came to live here. There wasn’t anybody there then, just me. Then another person came. I marked a space out just for me, because I wanted to. Then another person came, saying I’m in a bad way, I don’t have anywhere to live, so I said “grab a spot there.” Then another one came, so I gave them space again. It was like that from the bottom up to here. It was better for me when more people came, as I wasn’t alone anymore.
Then they came and said ‘you’re going to leave today – no, tomorrow, no, today’ – 38 years I had been living here. I never left, but it’s going to happen now. They told us to leave, the police came and smashed up my hut, and kicked it. I said to them “you can take it away, I’ll let you take it away.” That was when I went back to Cidade de Deus for six months, but I came back to start again. I kept on here.
[Interviewer] There was a story that they went to drive a tractor over some houses, but all the children laid down in the way…
It was over there. where the Residents’ Association was. They couldn’t get up there. They really were going to knock it all down. I think it was in 1992, thereabouts. It was during the time of Cesar Maia, wasn’t it? Cesar Maia said you are going to stay here, and we are still here today. But now, there aren’t going to be any people left, are there.
They said, ‘don’t you want an apartment? Why don’t you want an apartment?’ Because I don’t like it. One turned up, then another, and another, and it just grew, and now it’s like this.
I don’t know [where the name Vila Autodromo came from].
[Interviewer] What was it called when you arrived?
The edge of the lake. The Camorim lake. It’s not the Camorim lake here, but that’s what I called it.
Mr Steliano Francisco dos Santos, “your Pernambuco”, was removed in July 2014. He received compensation and bought two kitchenettes in Vargem Grande. He died at 89, in Pernambuco, before he had moved to his new address.
Reporter: Lena Azevedo