Emília Caetano Martins

"We started to fight back and stand in front of the machines that were about to destroy our market place."

Coming from

Now living in

Central do Brasil is a great place to live, for those that know how. Sometimes, people will say it’s this or that, but it’s not the rubbish that people make it out to be. There are a lot of great people, and bad people too, just like anywhere. You just have to know where to look. When I stop to talk to people on the street, my children ask me why I don’t run for election. No one can walk along with you, someone always stops to chat. We left a lot of friendships behind, it was great, I loved living there.

[How long did you live in Providencia for?]

I lived there for five years, on the descent, in Rua de Cachoeiro. I got a job there, and I went to work as a cook. Nilson offered me a box, so I opened my pension, and I went on my way, and in those days, I had a lot of sales. I used to sell a meal for 18 with rice, 30 with meat, I was the one who used to sell the most then. Then a criminal set fire to all the boxes. The fire took hold fast, but it stopped before mine as mine as made of concrete. It was where they did the works for the cable car, and we started to fight back, and stand in front of the bulldozers that were about to destroy our market place. We went to City Hall, and held a march, to stop them from destroying it, but we didn’t succeed. They did knock it down, and offered us another house. Many got their hands on money, they received compensation. The others, they offered apartments, as they couldn’t just put them out on the street. Here, we have a lot of expenses. I pay for my internet, my telephone, I pay for my Sky… I pay a bit more than 800 every month, so you have to help some people out. You have to keep fighting. Some people want one thing, others want something else… I still sell my food here, sometimes people come to my house to get a takeaway hot meal, but I focus on the small snacks that I sell for parties. No matter what happens, you can sell something. Nowadays, municipal guards get in your face more. I have a license for Praca Maua, but at the moment, we aren’t managing to work. Because of the Olympics, City Hall put certain food shacks in there. Those of us who have licenses weren’t informed that other people came in there.

[Do you miss it there?]

A lot. It was busy there, and that suits me. Here it’s not like that, it’s very calm. There’s no way not to miss it there.

Reporter: Lara Norgaard

Photographer: Lara Norgaard

My journey

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