Brazil: Cable Car Goes Up, Houses Come Down for World Cup

This article, written by Andrea Dip, is a part of Agência Pública's special #CopaPública coverage, originally published on April 10, 2012, under the title RJ: As Casas Vão Cair.

The construction of a cable car for tourists in preparation for 2014 FIFA World Cup in the Morro da Providência (Providence Hill) community in Rio de Janeiro is kicking residents out. Demolished houses are being traded for a stipend of 400 reais (200 US dollars), and many families have been unable find a place to live.

Neusimar is self-employed and lives with her family of seven in Morro da Providência. Her house has been painted with the acronym SMH (standing for ‘Municipal Housing Secretariat’, in Portuguese). This means that it is going down. All houses and neighboring buildings have already been demolished as residents accepted the 400 reais offered by the city hall as rent assistance.

Foto: Agência Pública

Photo by Agência Pública

The hill is set to host the Porto Maravilha (Marvelous Port) project [a reference to Rio's nickname, “Marvelous City”], comprised of a cable car and an inclined plane designed to attend to tourists visiting the city for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics – as Pública wrote about in January [pt]. That's the reason behind the compulsory evictions that the community is facing.

"Meus avós e meus pais brincaram aqui". Foto: Agência Pública

“My grandparents and my parents used to play here. What about me? Will I have the right to do it?” Photo by Agência Pública

Neusimar resists because she doesn't want to leave the home where her mother was born and where she grew up with her entire family for an uncertain future:

Onde vamos achar uma casa para alugar por  400 reais? Quem vai querer alugar uma casa para mim? Estou desempregada, minha mãe é doente, temos uma família grande. Não estamos aqui por teimosia, mas não vamos sair para ficar como as pessoas que a gente vê sair e ficar na rua porque não conseguem alugar nada.

Where are we going to find a house to rent for 400 reais? Who is willing to rent me a house? I currently have no work, my mother is ill, and we are a big family. We don't remain here because of stubbornness, but we are not going to leave to become like the people we see ending up in the streets because they can't rent a place.

As days go by, she feels her situation getting more complicated:

Foto: Agência Pública

Photo by Agência Pública

Está tudo no chão ao redor da minha casa, afetou a estrutura, agora estamos mesmo em situação de risco.

Everything is on the ground around my house, affecting its foundations, and now we are really at risk.

Similar stories are told in the video Morro da Providência, produced by the collective #EntreSemBater (Enter without knocking). The collective is made up of students from the Escola Popular de Comunicação Crítica (People's School of Critical Communication) [pt], a Observatório de Favelas (Slums’ Watchdog) project that offers community residents young and old access to different languages, concepts, and techniques in the field of communication. The short documentary was produced as a final course work, but its filmmakers decided to form a collective, which continues to research and document the evictions in Morro da Providência and in other places, as well.

Foto: Agência Pública

The words “dignity” and “ball” are seen upside down. Photo by Agência Pública

In addition to the evictions, the video features preparations for the demolition of the hill's sports court, where community soccer championships and samba schools rehearsals were once held. Leo Lima is a photographer and member of the Entre Sem Bater collective. He says that soon after the film was completed, the sports court was torn down, leaving an open space for the construction of the car cable's tower.

The blog #CopaPública [pt] is a citizen journalism initiative that reports how the Brazilian population is being affected by – and mobilizing against – preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

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