Note from BW of Brazil: Why don’t we just call Rio de Janeiro for what it is: a war zone! Far from the beautiful beach postcards sold in world famous areas such as Ipanema and Copacabana, the reality of Rio’s black slum resident is anything but a vacation. Back in January, this blog presented similar photos from another Military Police slum invasion and eviction in Rio, as well as another shootout that with police leaving a number of (black) bodies stretched out, a young man stripped naked and tied to a pole around his neck, and a woman who was shot and whose body was dragged on the ground outside of a police car. Very haunting, disgusting images that provide a peek into the ways that disregard, oppression and misery are part of the daily lives of brown-skinned people in one of the world’s most “Marvelous Cities!”
Eviction in favela causes turmoil in northern Rio
by Henrique Coelho, with content from Estadão and Agência Brasil
The climate is very tense in a repossession, determined by the courts, of an empty land of the telephone company Oi, in Engenho Novo, in north of Rio de Janeiro. The Military Police (MP) who arrived at the scene at around 5am on this Friday (11), clashed with the occupants of the site.
After one of the leaders of the protesters was arrested, the confrontation intensified. Land occupiers threw a Molotov cocktail toward the MPs, and the police responded immediately. Men from Shock Battalion used tear gas and other non-lethal weapons to disperse the crowd.
According to the MP, at least 21 people were arrested. The corporation provided a bus to transport the prisoners. Earlier, a reporter of the O Globo newspaper was placed under arrest while working on coverage of the eviction. According to O Globo, the journalist was arrested for shooting the action of the Military Police. He had his cell phone broken.
The residents of the “favela da Telerj”(or Telerj slum), as the occupation has been called, began to set fire to one of the buildings that make up the space. The occupants also burned a PM car, four buses and two trucks, according to the Fire Department.
A resident told the UOL website that three children had died during the Military Police action, but the information was denied by the corporation. The Fire Department also said it had found no fatalities during the work of tending to the wounded.
The military said it were rescued four adults and three children – a 13 year old, a 9-year old child (for inhalation of gas) and another six month old child. The nine year old was released. The baby, of whom the motive of treatment was not released, was taken to the UPA (Emergency Unit) of the neighborhood, as were three of four adults that were injured. In relation to others, more details were not disclosed.
With the confusion, the occupants ran through the streets and left a trail of destruction along the way. Three banks were vandalized in the vicinity of Engenho Novo. Besides the many fires, one vehicle at a TV station was stoned. About 1,000 people are still around in the building, resisting reintegration.
One resident, identified only as Maycon, was injured with a rubber bullet in the face during a police action shooting. Five policemen were wounded, said a spokesperson of the corporation.
A resident of Engenho Novo interviewed by Globo News said that businesses are closed all around the Oi building. Residents have been advised by the PM to remain at home, she said.
Police positioned themselves on every corner of the Dois de Maio street in front of the occupation, to prevent protesters from blocking the route. At least 60 men and 16 cars Fire trucks were in place to put out the fires.
According to the state government, 1,600 police officers were assigned to the enforcement action for repossession, of which 40 court officers also participated. The court orders were issued by the judge of the Civil Court of the 6th Regional Forum of Méier, responsible for the Engenho Novo region.
“Everything we feared is happening and in an even worse way,” said the president of the 55th subsection of the Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (Order of Lawyers of Brazil) in Rio de Janeiro (Méier), Humberto Cairo, who had been trying to broker a consensus among the occupants of the “favela da Telerj” and the Oi company.
“The OAB warned that this repossession be made with caution. I can guarantee that the better was the dialogue among the people. We should we sit down, chat, see who really is necessary here and make a registration,” says Cairo. “We cannot accept vandalism, or irregularity, but we also don’t accept cruelty and the dangerous situation that these people are being exposed to,” he added.
Representative of the residents of the occupation, Maria José Silva, also criticized the action: “We are being treated like animals. The solution they gave is a massacre.” “Many people left desperate and left things there. There were people went to work and now can’t come back not even to pick up their documents,” said Maria José, who didn’t live in the community but had been following the occupation of up close as she lived in a nearby favela. “They are saying that there were (drug) traffickers there, but they are humble people who need a habitation,” she noted.
The favela grew in one week
About 6,000 families occupied an empty plot belonging to the telephone company, which was raided on March 31. In just one week, the space consisting of buildings and abandoned warehouses was divided up by people from other communities, who erected shacks and tents on the site.
With about 5,000 square meters, the land has a central parking lot surrounded by four buildings of four and five stories. All spaces, floors and roofs were made completely with wooden structures. On the site, there was no light and no water.
Mayor Eduardo Paes (PMDB) defined the occupation of the land as “a professional invasion.”
“I know of no favela of Telerj and, yes, an invasion with all the features a professional intrusion can have. It’s an organized movement, with people who are there dividing and demarcating it. The poor who are poor, who need a home don’t keep demarcating, don’t show up with plywood marking numbers,” said Paes.
Source: UOL Notícias