Federal Judge Upholds Eviction Mandate, Condemns Resistance in Praia do Sossego, Niterói [IMAGES]

"The poor person's house 'hurts the environment.' The rich person's does not." Photo by Carol da Luz
"The poor person's house 'hurts the environment.' The rich person's does not." Photo by Carol da Luz

Clique aqui para PortuguêsPT

Judge William Douglas of the Fourth Federal Circuit issued a decision on July 27 upholding the eviction mandate of subsistence fishing community Praia do Sossego in Niterói, the city located to Rio’s east across the Guanabara Bay.

Claudio, 45, moved to Praia do Sossego when he was seven years old. No environmental protection statute inhibited his family’s habitation of the area at the time. However, the seafront area was declared an Environmental Protection Area provisionally in 1991 and officially in 1995. Residents of Praia do Sossego have faced the threat of eviction since 2004, intensified by real estate speculation in the area over the past 20 years. Despite federal legislation protecting fishing and traditional communities, federal authorities justify the removal on the grounds of environmental preservation.


An agreement reached with city officials on July 15 allowed for some hope for the families’ permanence on the beach, as it would have let the families relocate to upper Praia do Sossego—land not included within the Environmental Protection Area.

Praia do Sossego

However, as a coastal area, Praia do Sossego falls under federal jurisdiction. Federal Judge William Douglas rejected the agreement, maintaining his prior July 2 decision to allow the eviction of the families at any time after July 15.

While the federal authorities have not yet attempted to carry out the eviction, the decision expressed zero tolerance for potential attempts to impede the order. Should the families resist, the decision warned, they risk losing placement in the Minha Casa Minha Vida federal public housing program. The judge criticized the families’ intentions, portraying them as free riders in pursuit of personal gain. Five families occupy three houses in Praia do Sossego, housing a total of twelve residents.

“To the contrary of the romanticized vision of ‘poor fishermen,’” the decision slandered, “we are facing stakeholders who are disposed—if they are able to—to enrich themselves from the good will of the justice system.” The house located on the upper part of the beach houses seven residents: Claudio’s three nephews, two of whom are married and their wives currently pregnant.

Photo by Maurício Campos

The order also addressed the resistance effort in support of the families’ permanence composed of social activists from numerous organizations and collectives from Rio de Janeiro and Niterói. It warned: “The occupiers that resist the order should be arrested in the act, for the crime of disobedience, [calling upon the] Military Police or whatever [support] suffices to execute the order.”

Claudio's Family's House in Praia do Sossego

The decision finally confirmed that the families are subject to removal at any moment and that their houses will be demolished to restore the “natural state” of the environment.

Click here to show your support for the families of Praia do Sossego.