Reporter: Isabela Varanda e Alexia Chlamtac
"I see my former neighbors in total degeneracy. Crazy, living on the streets. Many of them already died, tuberculosis."
They came to take us out. But there was always someone around, a prosecutor or someone, who would say “no, you can’t do that.” You have to send everyone to the big house, knowing that in front of there, everyone was going to see. There was always someone, who when they saw the big houses and everyone in danger, would say “ah no, you can’t do that.” They say you’ve got this right, or the other right.
My name is Jailson Lourenco da Costa Nascimento, I’m 26 years old. I work as an assistant in an iron shop. We lived in Amarelo, that’s the big house at the front – as I was already registered there – and from there, we went to Caxias, after that we went to the city centre, and now we’re living in a rented place. We lived in Amarelo and Azul, but Azul was the one we were finally registered in.
They took us all out of the big houses, and promised to pay a monthly amount for eight months to a year, then we would be given Minha Casa, Minha Vida government housing, but they didn’t. They cancelled it, and after that they didn’t give anything to anyone. They said it was because they were regenerating the port area and that tram was going past, so nobody could live there. But if you go past, there is nothing there. Everything’s closed up, everything’s been destroyed, they didn’t do anything. They didn’t regenerate anything. That’s the way it is, only God knows what’s going on.
I went past there recently on my way to work, because it’s close by. So I had a look at it, and it’s all the same. They had just destroyed it.
It was a building with three floors: first, second and basement – that was out the back – and the third floor. It was like a big space which we divided up. When I arrived, it was already up and running. I stayed for three, four years, or more. So we did some work on it, to improve it. And then once everything was better, they took everyone out.
When the police came in the morning, they came with municipal guards and everyone, because they had to empty out the space. And so this business about helping us, with the prosecutor and everything came about, and they said they would give us 10 more days for everyone to get out. After the 10 more days, they came back and we really did have to leave. The trucks came… we didn’t have a way of carrying our things, so we put them on the trucks. They just came to throw our things away. They would clean up all the rooms and put the stuff on the trucks, that’s what they said.
When we went to get it, we waited more than – I don’t know how many months – and we were already on the streets. If we didn’t go there, our children would go without, because we didn’t have a place to go or a place to stay. How would we work if we didn’t have anywhere to sleep?
So we ended up waiting, you know. It took a long time and we were forgotten about. We looked for help in one place, no one knew what to tell us to do. We looked elsewhere, and they also couldn’t explain to us what to do.
[Are you still in contact with anyone from there?]
Very few, but I’m still in contact with some people. Even with all the problems we’ve got, I believe we’re better off than many of them. I see them in a state of total ruin. Walking around the streets crazy – some have already died of tuberculosis. We went to Caxias and I paid rent, because I’m working, I’m always had some money, because I’ve got four children. Now, let’s see how it’s going to be.
Now I’m paying rent again. We had to move back to the city because we couldn’t manage there. I was working here in the city centre. From Caxias to here, I would leave home at 3am to start work at 5.30am, 6am – and that was when the traffic was good. When it was bad, I would get to work at 8.30am, 9am, too late.
[How much rent money did you get?]
350, you saw it. That was the paperwork I showed you. You had to go… it was a kind of lawyer, prosecutor, I don’t know…
That’s it. You would go there and always had to wait, because they hadn’t deposited the money. But that’s how it was for three years.
It was good there, there was space for children which you don’t have here. Here, when they go out to play you are afraid they are going to fall down the stairs. Sometimes they want to go and play but the time comes when they can’t, because they are loud and it bothers people. In the house, you could stay in your room and let them play at will. That’s what I miss: the children’s activities. Mine are normal, I’m already used to having my limitations. What matters to me is them. They are my life. So if you take away their contentment, you take away mine, which is worse. Three are mine and the fourth is hers. Jackson, Jamille, and Jasmyn, and Carolyn is hers.
When it’s cold, I can’t leave my children on the floor. I miss the big house, living there. There was so much space, peace. It was great in the mornings. They haven’t done anything there, it’s been left the same way. The only thing they did was do up the front; the train lines, and those little flowers for the tram to pass by there. That’s the only thing that looks pretty there. Everything that they dis-occupied has been left empty now: Azul, Amarelo, Vermelhinho… it’s all empty.
She studies there, in the “balanca, mas nao cai”. He isn’t at school yet. All her children are at school. My baby still isn’t at school, she’s going to be a year old soon. But she will when she’s old enough. I’m going to be honest with you: I’m not going to say I’m happy here, when those I see aren’t really happy. Sometimes they’ve got space, sometimes they haven’t. Sometimes they cry when I ask them to come in because it’s raining. If we were still in the big house, they would be able to play and I wouldn’t have to fight with them so much, you know? You would be happier if you didn’t fight so much with your children.
Rua Rodrigues Alves, 157, Ocupação Casarão Azul
Now living in
Rua Camerino, Centro