by Jess Polebaum
|Morro da Providência - Flickr/CatComm|
As Rio de Janeiro prepares for the international sporting events it will host in 2014 and 2016, the city’s most vulnerable citizens face an abiding uncertainty: will their homes survive the city’s development plans?
Evictions across the city
Two major projects have the potential to leave a large wake of evictions in their path. A multi-focal, multi-million dollar development program initiated in 2009 and intended to renew the city’s derelict commercial port threatens to raze a portion of Morro da Providência, one of Brazil’s most historic favelas. A second effort involves the construction of a network of highways that will connect various points in the West Zone of the city, where the Olympic Village will be located and many of the Olympic events will take place. Rio On Watch, a journalistic project of Catalytic Communities, reports that more than 8,000 individuals have been evicted from their homes since preparations for the Olympics began in 2009, with up to 10,000 more evictions expected.
The city’s government denies wrongdoing and highlights the compensation and/or alternative housing it provides to evicted residents, as well as the city’s official reasoning for the evictions—namely that the homes slotted for removal are structurally unsafe. Both local and international groups, however, have protested and observed recurring patterns of abuse in the eviction process, including lack of adequate notice of eviction, unreasonable compensation, violent intimidation, and autocratic justification for the orders of removal.