Friday, December 09, 2011

inexcusable evictions in Rio

Rio de Janeiro is using the coming World Cup and Olympics as an excuse to demolish major swathes of favelas in the Zona Sul--the tourist zone of the city. These videos--at once jaw-droppingly awful and incredibly inspiring--tell the story. Note, in the second video, about the community called Pavao Pavaozinho, that you can see the beachfront highrises out peoples' windows. This shows just how valuable the real estate is in these areas.

People have lived in these favelas for generations. The government has never cared about their lives or their communities. Now, suddenly, with the spark of development and the increase in real estate values due to the games, their communities are areas of interest. The city plans to tear down 123 areas and relocate 13,000 families (though relocation is often to the most remote areas of town, impossibly far from work and economic opportunity, and there is no compensation for the decades of commitment and labor people have put into their communities.)

The World Cup will be taking place in eight major cities around Brazil--and all of them are using the contest as an excuse to eradicate vulnerable communities. These neighborhoods are not primitive. With no investment from outside and no government assistance, people have improved their communities, going from mud and stick settlements to brick and reinforced concrete structures in one generation. They get no credit for this. In fact, it's just the reverse: they are called illegal occupiers and criminals.

Brazil has lost a major opportunity to show the world that major global sporting events can be organized in an inclusive and egalitarian manner.

(hat tip to Tanya for sending the link my way.)


Zoe Roller said...

Dear Mr. Neuwirth,

I commented on the Rocinha post earlier today without realizing you were the author of this blog. I write for Catalytic Communities, and one of our volunteers posted a link to your site. I recently read Shadow Cities, and it was really fascinating. As I said in my last comment, I live in Rocinha and run a site called Rio Radar, which focuses on the changing security dynamic in Rio. We produce video interviews with residents and officials, as well as publishing translations and original articles. Your knowledge of conditions in squatter communities around the world would be illuminating to our readers, especially as a counterpoint to Rio's favelas. We would love to interview you for the site! If you're interested in talking to us, you can email me at Here's a link to our past interviews if you want to check them out:

Thank you!
Zoe Roller

P.S. You don't have to publish this as a comment! It was just meant to get in touch with you.

Matthew S. Kennedy said...

Very cool Blog... I have a website called, “California Homeless Resources”. and a blog dedicated to the homeless as well: