The communities of Restinga, Vila Harmonia and Recreio 2, in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro saw themselves the target of relentless municipal government action towards the end of 2010, as City Hall staffers, police and demolition crews paid frequent and long visits.
Residents are being asked to leave the area to allow for the widening of the main road Avenida das Américas, which will accomomdate BRT lanes for the Olympic Games in 2016.
The matter is riddled by legal complications. The government’s policy has been to compensate residents for the loss of their homes through cash compensation or relocation to distant housing complexes. But negotiations are biased against the slum-dwellers right over the land, and cash compensation is insufficient to acquire other adequate housing in the area. City Hall is often accused of intimidation and deception, and the Public Defenders that represent these communities have to react quickly to any setback in the courts, before the government’s apparatus can act upon judicial decisions.
Most residents have ultimately accepted the government’s pressures, only a small and shrinking percentage staying behind, fighting and living among the razed homes of their former neighbors.
Tiago Donato is an intern at Catalytic Communities, and coordinator of RioOnWatch.org.
See more on RioOnWatch’s Youtube channel.