"Without protest we can't be heard"
Metrô Condomínio Mangueira 1
Now living in
Metrô Condomínio Mangueira 1
I lived in the Metro favela. My house had a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a balcony. It wasn’t big, but it was comfortable.
Firstly, City Hall came and marked everyone’s houses, registering everyone, saying that the favela was at risk of falling down, because the Metro line went underneath it, and so they would have to take the favela out. Afterwards, they came and said we would be resettled, that they would put us in a safer place – to begin with. First they said it was for safety and that they would put us in a safer place. Technically, I believed them, because they said they had done an analysis of the ground, and had seen that there were cracks and water leaks – which there really were – that were leaking into the Metro down below and it was damaging the Metro.
At the beginning, I did believe it. Because there really was a water leak. The marking of the houses, I think that was in 2008. It looked like we were leaving – I might be wrong – in 2010. At the beginning, it was a bit difficult, because they offered us apartments in Campo Grande – really far away from here, about 50km. So for anyone that worked down here, or had relatives, school, access to hospitals, it was very difficult. So we immediately refused these evictions. It was a battle – you had to go, you didn’t have to go…
We formed a Commission to pursue it, we went to the Public Defender, we held some protests to be heard, we fought to stay as close as possible, until this came up really close to where I had been living.
It was frightening, because the people at City Hall said that if we didn’t accept Campo Grande, we would have to go to Santa Cruz, which is even further away. And if we didn’t accept Santa Cruz, we would have to go to Sepetiba, which is even further away still! They put that fear into people, which is why some of them accepted the offer of Campo Grande. They could have stayed here nearby, being treated in hospitals nearby, school, work… but they are there, as far as you can imagine. That’s why a lot of them regret it. After I left my house and went to another one, I didn’t care anymore what they did there.
In general, I think it was for the best. In general. For example, there was open sewage there. So when the pipe burst or it got blocked, we had to get together and unblock it. We would open it but we couldn’t unblock it, it stayed that way. And other things – exposed wires, cables… other things that are much better here.
There is a leisure area up there, with a court, there is a little clean space to have parties… down there, there was nothing like that. Here we’ve got our costs. Down there, hardly anyone paid energy bills. Here we have to pay for energy, water, maintenance charges, but it’s not very high. I think my son is healthier here than he was down there. The risk of getting sick from all the mice and cockroaches there were down there… there is none of that here.
Reporter: Lara Norgaard
Photographer: Lara Norgaard