Yesterday the residents of Vila Autódromo posted the following statement on their Facebook page with a video testimonial by resident Sandra Maria explaining the current situation and thanking supporters of the community for their continued solidarity at this tense time. For the original in Portuguese with video click here.
As they have for the last few weeks, residents and supporters of Vila Autódromo awoke this Wednesday, March 2, to the threat of yet another house demolition. This prompt daily ritual doesn’t just lead to physical exhaustion, but also emotional exhaustion for everyone. With judicial decisions being made in the silence of night and with the direct threats of agents who act in the community, the City tries to weaken the community’s resistance. With each threat, residents organize to ask for help from supporters and the media, without knowing for sure how or when the next municipal attack will take place.
Keeping everyone in a state of constant alertness is a clear strategy of psychological terror by Mayor Eduardo Paes‘ administration, who doesn’t carry out the upgrading of Vila Autódromo, a promise he has made publicly on several occasions. On top of not keeping their promise, the local authorities still use illegal maneuvers such as sending public officers inside residents’ houses with the intention to take photographs without the owners’ permission, which took place on February 24, when one of them was witnessed inside a residence.
The houses which the local authorities try to demolish are protected by state law, however with a simple decree, Eduardo Paes wants to knock them down. To complete the picture, the judicial decisions have almost all been released in on-call hearings with the objective of trying to pass the minimum amount of information possible to those affected, who in turn end up fighting the clock to organize a resistance to the violation of their rights. The last one, for example, was released at 7:55pm on Tuesday, authorizing the local authorities to demolish Maria da Penha Macena’s house, whose family wish to stay in the community. Penha and her family now live under constant threat of losing their home at any moment.
The actions of the local authorities are revealed as even more absurd when we look at their motives for seeking the demolition of the houses. Located next to the Olympic Park (the former Jacarepaguá race track), Vila Autódromo is in the middle of an area of increasing real estate interests given that, after the Olympic Games, the park area will be used to build luxury apartment blocks. And this raises another question, which is that of why Eduardo Paes has used public money to expropriate houses in an operation which will only benefit his campaign funders.
Late last night residents of Vila Autódromo published an urgent message on their Facebook page stating that the demolition order for Maria da Penha’s house had been emitted and the demolition could take place from 6am this morning, Friday March 4.