By MATTHEW DOTY, age 11
From June 12 to July 13, 2014, Brazil hosted the FIFA World Cup, inspiring nation-wide protests against evictions and for workers’ rights. Now, as the country prepares to host the 2016 Olympics, more issues have come up. In order to build stadiums and other facilities, the Brazilian government is once again evicting thousands of low-income residents who live in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the games. Brazil expects to spend more than $15 billion preparing for the Olympics.
The poorest 34 percent of Brazilians receive less than 1.2 percent of the nation’s income. Many low-income families in urban areas live in shanty towns called favelas. Houses in the favelas were often built on abandoned property by people who came to the city trying to find work.
“Sometimes government employees come and spray-paint numbers on their houses so people come home from work to find out that their house has been marked for eviction,” says Theresa Williamson from Rio on Watch, an organization that serves as a voice for favela residents. “Other times people are intimidated into signing away their homes.”
Since houses in the favelas were built without permits, the government says it is justified to move the residents to safer places. While Favela residents are almost always paid for their houses, the government is providing less than $200 per month in rent for each evicted resident. This payment is far less than the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in even the most affordable neighborhoods, and residents are often moved far from their work.
Jeane Tomas, a former favela resident, says, “There is this frustration to have worked so hard, dreamed so much, to leave everything behind.”