This text has been written by people in Rio de Janeiro who fight for the working poor terrorized by the state of Brazil in the name of FIFA‘s World Cup. They are witnesses of this aggression and they help the voices of the people, who came under the military threat of tanks and guns, be heard. This is the real World Cup.
“Pacifying” Rio de Janeiro and the exodus of the favela-dwellers
“A procession of children, with their parents, carrying the remnants of abandoned homes, mattresses, blankets and bags on a nocturnal odyssey through Rio’s city centre like refugees crossing borders, are heading for refuge in the Cathedral of the city which will be host to the next World Cup.
Thousands were evicted from the long-abandoned Telerj building in Engenho Novo. From six different favelas of the region, they sought a living space in this city where prices have spiraled and had, in the space of a week, invested their resources to build wooden huts. The shock troops of Rio state’s military police which have violently repressed all political protests since June 2013, were unleashed against families with many small children and old people. They threw bombs from low-flying aircraft, torched huts with flame-throwers and sprayed torrents of chemicals at adults and children alike. Four children were reported dead, but this could not be verified.
The Rio State UPP (Pacifying Police Units) installed in favelas of the city’s South Zone function as a gradual eviction programme, in the process of gentrification. Other areas have been demolished to make space for stadium parking lots or new freeways. Many evicted from the Telerj building were evicted from other areas.
Some 300 of the evicted, half of them children, set up camp in front of City Hall. The city’s solution once again was the batons and aggression of the Municipal Guard and Military Police.
The refugees at their gate tested the christian tenets of the catholics. All Easter celebrations were cancelled due to “security risks” including the weekend breakfast for the homeless with whom the refugees shared food donated by activists.” (Authors: Sindia Bugiarda and Fabricio Souza , and translated by Elizabeth Maisão Dos Santos and Vik Birkbeck)
This video, by Paula Kossatz and Katja Schilirò, translated into English, documents the testimony of a homeless woman, who is occupying the City Hall of Rio in protest after being evicted at gunpoint from her home.