By Giulia Afiune, Jessica Mota and Natalia Viana | July 28, 2016
The Olympic evictions have left a difficult legacy to hide: psychological and physical violence, social relations ripped apart, residents in debt and under control of the militias of the West Zone of Rio
Top 10 shocking eviction stories from Project 100
- Rafaela Silva dos Santos was told she didn’t have any choice but to leave Vila Autodromo, which was being removed for a through road to the Olympic Park and related works. “As I had four children, and a baby, she was only a month old, they said they would send the Civil Defence into my house, and I would get a fine, if I didn’t leave Vila Autodromo.” After fighting to keep her home in the community, she gave in to City Hall’s demands out of fear she was “sacrificing” her children, and was rehoused in nearby government housing in Parque Carioca.
- Josué dos Santos Lima said the people in his community, Favela Metro Mangueira, were told “it’s the streets or nothing.” The favela, close to the Maracana stadium, was torn down in 2014 but nothing was built in its place despite rumours of a car park for the venue of the Olympics opening ceremony. Josue was moved to government housing at nearby Mangueira 2. “I don’t like to remember it, we built a life there. And to see it all being destroyed because of the Olympics? It’s not cool, if it was because of a war or a bomb, we could have accepted it. But because of the Olympics?” he said.
- Heloisa Helena Costa Berto is an Afro-Brazilian Candomble priestess who had her home and place of worship in Vila Autodromo destroyed at the same time in February 2016. She later wrote to the UN Human Rights Commission about the demolishing of her home and the way it was carried out. She said that authorities described her belongings as “trash”, she suffered extensive pressure to accept City Hall’s terms and was accused of pocketing another resident’s compensation. “They wrecked everything… it was a pure piece of land! We believe that a place which has a spiritual centre is a sacred ground,” she said.
- Jenifer Lessa dos Reis is 16, and was moved from an occupied building in rio’s city centre to government housing in Senador Camara. The state of her housing has improved, as her former home was in an unsanitary state next to a rubbish dump and had leaks. But where she has been moved to now is dangerous. “you can’t stay out when there are shootouts – because of the risk of stray bullets. It wasn’t like that where we were, you could go out, cross the street, play. My daughter, who will be a year old soon, can’t go out there. It’s very rare that I leave the house,” she said.
- Jailson Lourenço da Costa Nascimento now shares a two-bedroom tenement apartment with his wife and eight children, after being evicted from an occupation in the port zone, regenerated as one of the Rio 2016 legacy works. Although his family were told they would be rehoused under the government housing scheme Minha Casa, Minha Vida, when they were evicted seven years ago, that never happened, and he was left to fend for himself. Many of his former neighbours suffered a worse fate than Jailson. “I see my former neighbors in total degeneracy. Crazy, living on the streets. Many of them already died, tuberculosis,” he said.
- Cosme Vinicius Felippsen was threatened with eviction from the oldest favela in Rio de Janeiro, and many believe Brazil itself, Providencia. Works were announced in the favelas in 2009 as part of a reform of the old port area, and this was to include a cable car in the favela itself. The residents were not consulted, and 832 people were threatened with eviction. The community resisted and succeeded in getting an injunction through the courts which prevented the majority of planned evictions. Cosme was offered two government apartments in 2013 to leave his home, but refused. “Two apartments, for someone who has a history here, is not what we want. We want the favela to stay, and that this money that was used for the cable cars, all of it could be used for basic sanitation, for healthcare, for education. I’ve got my whole family here, my whole history,” he said.
- Cristiane Alves de Paula went to the doctors and when she came back, her house in Vila Harmonia had been knocked down for the new bus rapid transit system. She was given a week’s notice to move out before the authorities came, and was sent to a government housing block in Campo Grande. The alternative was just R$4,000 in compensation. The day of the move was traumatic. “All I could do was cry, when they came and started breaking everything and taking everything out. I said what are you doing, my mother gave me that, and -bam! – they threw it in the bin,” she said. The new location was so deserted, there were not even any supermarkets there at the time, and her three children had to repeat a year of school as there were no vacancies in the local school for all the children who had been moved there.
- Nathalia Silva is the daughter of Maria de Penha, one of 20 who resisted evictions from Vila Autodromo and succeeded in getting City Hall to agree to building new homes for residents on the same site. Watching her old house being destroyed was painful for the student, as it held so many childhood memories. “I saw my house being built, I helped to build my house, it took years to get built. In fact, when we came to live here I was only seven years old. I dug earth, I carried bricks, I mixed cement paste… I can remember all these things,” she said.
- Ozineide da Silva was one of many who got moved to government housing, when she was moved from a disused warehouse in Ipadu in Curicica to Colonia in 2014, but later received a bill from the bank asking for her to pay the rest of the cost of the new apartment. Although she says City Hall promised to pay the rent, they had not been doing so. Ozineide has been left with a bad credit rating as a result of the debt. She was given no paperwork to prove she has a right to live in the house. “I don’t have anything here which says this is mine,” she said.
- Altair Guimaraes had already been evicted four times in his life by the time he reached 61 years old, including from two seperate homes in Vila Autodromo, where he was president of the residents’ association. He experienced violent removals in June 2015 when municipal guards beat residents who were resisting evictions. Altair believes many former residents of the community won high sums of compensation after battling for years, because the money to be made by big construction firms was even higher, on the back of the mega sporting events. “I’ve never seen anyone pay so much money, two million, three million, in a community. In Vila Autodromo, obviously, we fought them a lot, we managed to protect that community, but they’ve got their interests. Their interest is in building homes for the upper middles classes in Autodromo, after the 17 days of Olympic Games.”
100 stories and a tale of massive forced evictions
Behind the metal door in Camerino Street in the city centre of Rio de Janeiro, two crumbling stairs lead to the second floor where, without any windows, it is smelly and dark. There, amongst five or six other families, live children Jackson, Jasmin, Jamile, Carolaine, Iuri, Karolyn, Cauane and Janderson, all the children of Jailson Lourenco da Costa, a tall, black, good-looking, illiterate man. They share the two-room tenement for the price of R $ 700 per month; one contains a fridge, stove and mattress used by the parents. On the other there is a dresser, a TV and a shared bed for all the children. “Whether you want it to or not, you lie on the ground and the cold bites,” worries the father.
It’s been seven years since Jailson was evicted from the blue mansion, an old manor house which is on the route of a new tram line, one of the Porto Maravilha attractions – one of the great legacies of the 2016 Olympics to Rio according to City Hall. “They said they would reform the harbour area and that that tram was coming, and there was no space for housing there,” he recalls. The large house, abandoned, had been occupied by residents of the region: street sellers, fruit pickers, workers with meager wages just like him. It was there that Jailson met his wife. In June 2009, they were removed in just ten days. The promise was that “they [City Hall] would give everyone a Minha Casa, Minha Vida [government housing project] to live in, but they gave us nothing, it was cancelled , and after that they did not give anything to anyone.” For the last three years, the family have been living in a tenement block in Camerino Street. “I can’t tell you that I’m happy, I don’t see my children very happy, there’s no space, nothing. I have to keep calling attention to it. If I had a big house, they would be playing and I wouldn’t be fighting so much with them, right?”
“I really miss the old mansion, living there, it was good. It was peace,” he laments.
Behind the nostalgia Jailson and thousands of other families are feeling, for the homes they lost to make way for the spectacle of the Olympic Games in 2016, there are a number of human rights violations that permeated the whole process, intrinsically also linked Rio’s preparations to host the 2014 World Cup .
Families interviewed by the public for the project 100 reported psychological and physical violence. Eighteen out of the 100 families interviewed said they had been directly threatened to leave their homes. “They said they were going to put the police on us, that they would bring down the house with us inside,” recalls Eunice dos Santos, a former resident of Estrada da Boiúna who now lives in the Juliano Moreira project, tpart of the Minha Casa Minha Vida programme, in the west of the city. Marcia da Silva recalled the trauma of her daughter, then three, watching the old house being demolished. The girl began to have recurring nightmares. “The pediatrician said that perhaps she needs psychiatric treatment,” says Marcia. Other pressures were more veiled, but continuous. “The threats were more psychological. They said: ‘Oh, but don’t you see, that everybody’s going around you, you have to think of the family because your family may suffer the consequences later, “says José Ronilson da Silva, resident of Vila Autódromo.
On June 3, 2015, municipal guards assaulted residents there, where about 500 families lived on the brink of Jacarepaguá lagoon and where the Olympic Park now sits, during an attempt at demolition. Images of Ronilson’s neighbors with bloody heads and rubber bullet marks on arms circulated on social networks. The persistence of the residents to stay where they are resulted in a small but symbolic victory: 20 houses were built on the same land for those who were in Vila Autódromo. In addition to the houses, two schools and recreation areas make up the community development plan announced by the city in March 2016, by which time most of the families had already left.
Lack of data
During Mayor Eduardo Paes’s administration, Rio de Janeiro saw an unprecedented cycle of massive removals. Its actual size is still unknown. As recently as July 2015, the city provided general data in a blog: between 2009 and 2015, 22,059 families were resettled in Rio. City Hall maintains that 72.2% of the total, or 15,937 families, were removed because they were at risk of landslides, flooding, or were living in unsanitary conditions. The municipal government only recognises Vila Autódromo as a community which has had demolitions linked to mega sporting events. “No other resettlement process underway today in the city has ties to the sports facilities created for the Games,” reads the City Hall text.
That’s not what interviews with victims reveal. The vast majority of evictees found out through employees of the municipality, who clearly told them it was because of works related to the Olympic Games. In some cases, as in the abandoned warehouse that faced Ipadu Street, 700 in Curicica – removed to make way for the Transolímpica bus rapid transit (BRT), the first document given to residents as part of the removal process carried the logo of the Olympic Games. Joshua Lima, a former resident of the Metro Mangueira favela, sums up: “I don’t like to remember, no. We built our life there. And to see it being destroyed because of the Olympics is not cool. If it was because of a war, because of a bomb, we could accept it, but because of the Olympics …? “.
City Hall never published detailed official data on the Olympic removals. It is not known, for example, how many people were evicted from the communities that were on the route of some key works for the Games. According to data in the report “Rio Olympics 2016: the exclusion games,” published in November 2015 by the People’s Committee of the World Cup and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, if you count only three major investments listed as Legacy of the Olympic Games, plus works to reform the Maracana stadium which will host the opening and closing nights of the event, there were 2,548 families evicted. This survey includes the communities of the Recreio region, where the Transoeste BRT goes through, the Curicica neighborhood, cut off by the BRT Transolímpica, the Providencia community, in the area known as Porto Maravilha, or Marvellous Port, where there were removals because of the installation of a cable car, and other occupations similar to Jailson’s blue mansion.
According to City Hall, on the same blog, only 2,125 families were resettled as a result of infrastructure or urban mobility works.
Agencia Publica put in two freedom of information requests, but did not receive a response.
Desinformation as a strategy
Lack of information on the evictions was a constant theme in the Olympic evictions process and led the organisation Article 19, which upholds the right to information, to point to “a critical portrait of a lack of transparency and restriction of public information on important infrastructure works that are changing the urban space of the city of Rio de Janeiro and the lives of its residents, on the grounds of the preparation for a mega sporting event. ” In a report on the Transolímpica BRT – the first major work for the 2016 Games, which began in 2012-, the NGO said that there was a “widespread lack of information” for the residents of communities in the region. There was a specific site for requests for access to information, and all had to be made in person, on paper, at City Hall. Of 39 requests to four municipal departments and the mayor’s office, only one has been fully answered. The report concludes that, after months making requests for information, it was impossible to find out what the final route of the BRT was going to be, while hundreds of families had already been evicted.
“In fact, we we learned through rumours on the internet that there would be an expropriation, a new line was being built and we would have to leave,” recalls Ozineide Pereira da Silva, who lived 20 of his 30 years in a huge warehouse occupation in Ipadu Street, known as number 700, in Curicica. “Until one day City Hall was there doing registration, taking pictures of our house, and said that we would leave and that they would compensate us.” Since the first shock and the effective expropriation that followed it, more than two years have passed, and no precise information has been given. “I heard that we were going to leave the place in 2013. in 2014, the month of July, they began to go into our house. Then, in August, the documentation process began, and we received [our new home in 2015], “he says.
For the researcher Mariana Cavalcanti, who closely followed the process of removals in Curicica, “the lack of information was a deliberate strategy of City Hall,” she says. She says that the residents of Vila Uniao, close to Ozineide’s community, learned about the BRT threat when a City Hall marketing video was posted on the internet showing the original planned route amid promises of benefits to the population. “People saw that BRT would simply pass through the community. It’s like a joke, cutting the city up as if you were God,” adds the sociologist Paulo Magalhães, who was then the adviser of the vice president of the Caixa Econômica Federal bank and closely followed the negotiations.
The lack of reliable information accompanies the residents evicted from Vila Uniao and Ipadu, even after they have moved to the Juliano Moreira condominium through the Minha Casa, Minha Vida social housing programme. During the interview to Agencia Publica, Ozineide shows the only paperwork he received – a ‘dossier’, without any legal value. To date, neither she nor her neighbours have received the contract to certify that they are the legal occupants of the property. “I’m afraid. Because here we don’t pay because it was just an exchange of keys. But then the government changes, then we’re going to find out. We signed, but they did not have any contract for us. I have nothing to say that this is mine.”
The situation is even more serious than that because, as noted in a previous Agencia Publica (read here), many Colonia residents started to get bills from the Banco do Brasil to the amount of R$75,000 – as if they owed money which they will never have. The value should be being paid by City Hall, to which Banco do Brasil attributes the problem. Result: many residents have a bad credit rating with the SPC, the Credit Protection System.
Many are afraid to talk, and do not want to appear in photos or videos. Either because they have been threatened or because they might be. During the investigation of this report, the Agencia Publica reporting team received a “message”. A resident of one of the condominiums said she had called her niece, Marli Ferreira Lima Peçanha, who was advisor to the mayor’s office in 2015 and is now coordinator of Social Articulation of the Housing Department. It is she who personally handles a number of cases of removals. Her name is mentioned repeatedly by residents who have have received unfulfilled promises from civil servants promises. “You are not allowed to do an interview here,” was the message we were given.
The repeated threat of eviction, lasting decades, was mentioned by respondents from all communities. No wonder – they were all in the way not only of the BRT and Olympics works, but in areas of high real estate value. The researcher Luke Faulhaber says in his book SMH 2016 – Purges in Rio de Janeiro, co-authored with journalist Lena Azevedo, that in 2014 Rio had the most expensive land per square meter in the country, with an average of R$10,250 (US$ 3,130) , after a increase in residential prices by 700% in 2010, according to a survey by the union Secov-Rio.
“In 2006, Cesar Maia, on the pretext that you couldn’t have businesses in favelas, came and knocked down people’s houses. At the end of 2008 to 2009, the deputy mayor of Barra started coming here again to talk rubbish. First he sent a lot of … he said he was a social worker, took a lot of data from the community and delivered everything to the borough. Then, when the deputy mayor’s office came at us [in 2012], they knew more about our lives than we did,” said Jorge Santos, former resident of Vila Recreio II.
The founder of Vila Autódromo, fisherman Steliano Francisco dos Santos, reported having received the first threats of eviction only six months after having put up the first shack. “Then it stopped, I spent six months with this you will leave, out today, out tomorrow … and it never happened. And I stayed. It was 36 years,” he said in an interview made in early 2014. He died shortly after his house was demolished.
In the face of stubborn threats when the time came for “the man grab” – in the words of Steliano – many families accepted the only offer made by City Hall. Not Jorge Lima. He helped mobilise the families of the Metro Mangueira favela, who managed one of the greatest achievements: two popular condominiums just a few streets away. And he remembers the “phrase always used” by city officials during those early visits. “That phrase they repeated,” was “It’s Cosmos or it’s street. ” “Cosmos” meant being transferred to one of the social housing condominiums in the Cosmos neighborhood in the west, 60 kilometers away.
Today, those who say they are happier are those who left degrading housing for the apartments near to where they lived, as happened in Providencia and Metro Mangueira. “We hit the foot that was not going to get out and then had it that they were going to release this one for us, then said: ‘Wonderful,'” says the former Mangueira resident, José Miranda. “In terms of housing, it is much better; on comfort its much better.”
This was not the case for most respondents. Our team heard the stories of, for example, families removed from the Recreio neighbourhood transferred to Campo Grande, 28 kilometers away, and families removed from the city center to the Camará Senador district, about 40 kilometers away. The former residents of the Machado de Assis occupation, the site of the Porto Maravilha, when they lived in the city centre, were close to their work. Now, they have to wake up at 4am to go to the same place, if they haven’t lost their jobs. “The environment, for me, is normal. I’m great. But I’d rather be there in the centre, I preferred it. There, in any little place, I can fill a cooler with beer, with biscuits, in any little corner there I already had a job. To help with income in the house, “says Simone da Conceição, who now lives in social housing in Senador Camara. “My only regret is work. There, I had a certain occupation for me, being a 40 year old woman.”
The safety of those neighborhoods where everyone knew each other for 10, 20, 30 years has disappeared. The gardens too. The trees arching over the grass, the animals, the plants, as Jane Nascimento once had, which provided a space for their work. “The space outside the room, bedroom, kitchen is no longer mine. I can’t get a truck to deliver the materials to make a sign,” says the artisan and former resident of Vila Autódromo. “‘They ‘desocialised’ my whole life, just about everything.”
While researching his book, the architect and urban planner Lucas Faulhauber identified various strategies adopted by City Hall and other bodies for the removal of a community. Among them, the visit of undercover government agents, under pretexts invented to measure and photograph the house and interview people; the repression of the municipal guard against residents; the demolition of houses which had already been negotiated, leaving the community a wreck, full of debris, garbage, cockroaches and rats; and individual negotiations, which have undermined the power of collective organisation to ensure a better “deal” for City Hall So those who had already accepted the administration’s terms then put pressure on neighbours and family to do the same.
Only one community went through absolutely all of these steps, the most emblematic of Olympic evictions: Vila Autódromo. Those interviewed by Agencia Publica told of situations where scurrilous tales were planted by city officials as Heloisa Helena Costa Berto, who says she was accused of having pocketed someone else’s compensation. She showed Agencia Publica a WhatsApp message from a member of the municipal administration that made a veiled threat. Similarly, a relative of a Vila Autódromo community leader told the story that he was had planned to sue her, because she had apparently “lost” a multimillion-dollar compensation: the community leader, who was putting him up at the time, refused to leave the house and gave up on getting any compensation or staying in Vila Autodromo.
It is undeniable that the residents of Vila Autódromo received much greater compensation than other communities. Especially those who survived for longer. The unity of the residents contributed to this, as they carried on holding community parties in the middle of the muddy, rubble-strewn ground, with support from students, journalists and researchers sympathetic to their cause. They were also the only community that directly affected Eduardo Paes and the big construction companies’ plans for the Olympic Games, and luxury condominiums on the edge of the lake which will come later. Even these compensation sums, more appropriate to the value of land valued by property firms, were absolutely uneven and marked by psychological violence in the way they were carried out. There were people who received compensation figures of 700,000 reals; while others were offered up to 2.5 million reals. Still others received seven apartments in the Minha Casa Minha Vida. Their names are not being published at their request.
Given this picture of enforcement, individual negotiations and lack of transparency, the attitude of the mayor’s adviser Marli Ferreira Lima Peçanha is remarkable. She was filmed by Agencia Publica during a report made on February 25 this year. Before the demolition Heloise’s home, which also functioned as a Candomble ground, Marli shouted to anyone who would listen: “I can smell these people a mile off. I don’t chat to them. Here they are all birds of a feather.” Not the professionalism expected of a public official.
Questioned via the Access to Information Act on the origin of funds used for compensation in Vila Autodromo, the city had not responded by the time this report was published.
The greatest legacy of the Olympic evictions: thousands in the hands of militias
The unsuspecting journalist trying to get into some of the condos Minha Casa Minha Vida west zone will quickly come across three things. The first is that all are surrounded with gates that control the coming and going of residents. There are no doormen. The second is that there are always some strong young men leaning against the buildings or in cars, watching the activity. And the third is that the residents are too afraid to give interviews.
Agencia Publica’s team met the reality of fear foisted on residents by the militia during two visit to the Juliano Moreira Condominium, in Jacarepagua. The first time, a tall young man, in a vest, asked us to explain what we were doing there. He did not introduce himself, but nodded. Residents spoke of militias in a veiled way, claiming that “there is not much freedom”, “children cannot stay out after 10pm” or “there are too many people wanting to give orders here.” On a second visit, the surveillance was more overt: while our reporter spoke to a resident on the first floor, two young men watched the ground floor, leaving the man and his wife deeply saddened. “It is not the militiaman, is the son of militia,” he said. Frightened, they declined to be interviewed or tell their story.
The fear of militia power echoes another fear, always present in Rio favelas: fear of drug gangs. In the words of the researcher Mariana Cavalcanti, “poor communities in Rio always have an owner”, and the control of entire Minha Casa, Minha Vida buildings by militias made up of former police officers and firefighters is the other side of that reality. According to what we heard, militiamen enforce order, charge gas rates, electricity, cable TV, give curfews, beat and expel residents who rebel against them. So they ensure, in their own view, “order” and “security”, leaving drug gangs well out of the picture.
The origin of the current militias who control the west of the city is a kind of rogue police which took root in the west under the pretext of fighting crime in the 2000s. In September 2008, when he was running for state governor, Mayor Eduardo Paes explained to RJTV newspaper Globo, the effectiveness of this type of warfare. “You have areas where the state has lost the sovereignty altogether. We need to recover this sovereignty. I’ll give an example, because people always ask how to recover this sovereignty. Jacarepagua is a neighborhood that such ‘rogue police’, made up of police officers and firefighters, brought tranquility to the population. The São José Operário areal was one of the most violent of this state and is now one of the quietest. The Sape neighbourhood, in Curicica. That is, with action, with intelligence, you have to make the state resume sovereignty in these areas,” he said. After the episode, Paes refused a number of times to defend the action of militias.
The PMDB politician began his political career in the same region in 1993 as deputy mayor of Barra and Jacarepagua for 23 years. It is still there where he has his greatest electoral support – when he was re-elected in 2002, 822,000 of about two million votes obtained came from the west zone. One of the areas where the higher percentage of voting came from was Santa Cruz, where there are currently several Minha Casa, Minha Vida condominiums. He won nearly 77% of votes.
No wonder that the presence of militias is much more striking in western Rio. If the majority of new Minha Casa, Minha Vida projects are in this region, it is not surprising that the vast majority of buildings are subjected to them. According to City Hall, out of a total of 16,309,000 people have been removed through the program, half went to the west and the other half were divided between condominiums in the center, north and Jacarepagua.
The mayor’s office also gave the number of families settled in some of the developments for we focused on for the project 100. Three of the most populated sets of condominiums – in Campo Grande, Senador Camara and Cosmos, which together received 5,121 resettled families – are in the area of extreme west of the city. These condos were inhabited by people who have gone through all the processes described in this report. There are reports from all of the presence of militias.
In this map has been produced by Agencia Publica, with the origin and destination of evicted communities linked to the Olympics, you can see the massive displacement that occurred to the west. Agencia Publica used based on the locations of condominiums Minha Casa, Minha Vida built by the first half of 2015, calculated by journalists Luã Marinatto and Rafael Soares, from the Rio newspaper Extra, and information gathered in the dossier of the People’s Committee.
During the first half of 2015, Extra journalists found that, at that point, all 64 Minha Casa, Minha Vida condominiums that had been inaugurated in Rio for the poorest people were targets of criminal groups. More than half – 38 housing estates in the west – were, at the date of calculation, controlled by militias. Including the Livorno condominiums, Trento and Varese, in Cosmos, and Treviso, Terni and Ferrara, in Campo Grande, receiving people removed because of the Olympics. In Cosmos, reporters found on buildings the symbol of a famous militiaman, former PM Ricardo Teixeira da Cruz, Batman – a black bat under the phrase “welcome”.
The absence of basic rights for those removed – such as information about their accounts, condominium charges, when the property would be put in his name and delivery of the contract – leaves them vulnerable to the demands of the militia. “The local authority has enormous power,” said the sociologist Paulo Magalhães, who observed the dynamics of the region after being hired by Invepar to make a social investment plan based on the construction of theTransolímpica. “And it creates policy for two major markets -the security market and the formal real estate market.” Both are linked, says Paul. “The militia marketing ploy is to sell a land where you do not have security problems.”
It is the new face of an expedient so old that it has permeated all phases of the history of Rio de Janeiro. Forced evictions were already taking place in 1808, when the king of Portugal Dom Joao VI moved to Brazil and took over the houses of city center residents to install his luxurious court. The houses were marked with the abbreviation “PR”, the “Prince Regent”, a symbol of violence, but real, reissued during the Olympic removals: by 2013, all the houses to be demolished were marked with the acronym SMH – Municipal Housing.
“The history of Rio de Janeiro is modeled upon construction and the expulsion of those who built it,” reflects Sandra Maria, one of the residents of Vila Autodromo who told her story for this special. “Former slaves built the center of Rio de Janeiro and then were expelled from it. Then they build the Santo Antônio Hill and were expelled from there. The southern area was built by workers expelled from the centre. The poor, in Rio de Janeiro, have no right to live close to the privileged areas. You cannot live near the beach, you cannot live near waterfalls, you cannot live near the forest. There comes a time that you question it: what is the value of the history of a people?” It was this realisation, she says, that made her decide to join the fray of other residents, and fight to keep her place in the small village which today runs alongside the Olympic Park.
“Someone needs to change this city’s history,” she says.
Pictures: AF Rodrigues, Jessica Mota, Natalia Viana