Mario José Viana
"I'm happy here but they didn't ask us where we wanted to go."
Now living in
My two grandchildren live here, with me and my wife. There are four of us. I don’t miss where I was. I moved from a worse place to somewhere better, I have nothing to miss from there. I really don’t miss it at all. My house was half the length of this room, from where you are up till there. There was no space to sleep there – some slept in the kitchen, some in the living room. There was no other way – you had to sleep where you were. Here really is a good place.
They came to register everyone, with the intention of sending them to Colonia. As Banco do Brasil didn’t accept us in Colonia, Caixa Eletronica did accept us, so we came here. Letters have been coming here saying we have to pay, but its City Hall who is obliged to pay. It was to be an exchange of keys. My house was small, so I didn’t care, it just had a kitchen, bathroom and living room, so I really didn’t care. If you had a small house, you would end up getting an apartment. Now they are saying they are going to repossess it. But they can’t do that: our document given to us by City Hall and signed by the Caixa says that it was an exchange of keys.
The first project was to take the whole community out. It was more than 900 houses, and they were going to take them all out, so the bus rapid transit system (BRT) could go in. But after pressure from an NGO, City Hall cut the project in half. The project got bigger, but it was diverted away from those houses. They still took out some houses – for instance, they said some were falling down, so they were trying to reinforce them. So they would take out six residents, and give them compensation. Now the money has run out, so it would be difficult to get rid of people now.
The demolition only happened once they had taken us out of there and brought us over here. Firstly they took everyone out and brought us here, in a City Hall truck. They told some people they would take them out and didn’t, I don’t know why they lied about that. He [representative of City Hall] lives over there, he doesn’t want to know about us. But they took me out of there and moved me here, which was good for me. It’s quiet and calm here. Apart from the fact that everyone here knows each other, it’s people from the community – it’s a good thing here. The only people who complain about being here are those that came from Vila Autodromo. We know about how they were taken out of there. But other than that, none of us have a reason to complain.
I was the representative of the association, and I built that building. We didn’t hire workers, we did it together. I was the president, and we built a three-storey building in six months. With the help of friends, we built a creche for 25 children. We got it working, without charging anyone to use it. Cesar Maia, who was the mayor at the time, he charged 20 reals for one at the hospital which was ready. We managed to build it with everything that children going into their first year needed. We really were doing good work there. But after a while, some would leave, others would get voted in, and the new person, she’s been in charge for the past 12 years, she ended the creche, and ultimately ended the association. Now everything has to go through City Hall. It was completely different to before. It was in a bad state, the roof was bad, but since it was reformed by City Hall, I don’t know how it ended up, as I never went there again. People who did the work before did it out of love, and wouldn’t have let it end. She organised this reform, through City Hall. And City Hall went there and did the reform work.
Reporter: Lara Norgaard | Edição: Paulo Roberto Junior
Photographer: Lara Norgaard