Thursday, March 21, 2013

Update on eviction of indigenous people in Rio de Janeiro

                                         (Photo by Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

                                         (Photo by Felipe Dana/Associated Press)

An update on a story posted in January 2013:

Six years ago, several ethnic tribes (mostly Guarani) created a settlement in Rio de Janeiro by occupying an old colonial building once the premises of a natural history museum. They had been forcibly expelled from their ancestral lands by foreign agribusiness & despite tenacious legal & popular resistance to the encroachments were forced to relocate by brutal force from the Brazilian government.

The settlement became known as Maracanã Village since it is adjacent to the Maracanã sports stadium now undergoing reconstruction to host the 2016 Olympics & the 2014 World Cup. The settlement premises are needed to construct parking lots, bars, restaurants & a shopping center for the sports events. On Saturday, January 12th, military policy in riot gear surrounded Maracanã Village & without warning or a warrant intended to evict the entire community--although there is a continuing legal battle over the occupation of the space. Political & human rights activists (including a worker from the stadium construction site who was fired for joining the sit-in) arrived at Maracanã Village to support the residents.

The resistance of the the Guarani & others came as no surprise to the government of Brazil since their intransigence in the courts & on the streets against agribusiness land grabs is nearly legendary. That intransigence & the support they rallied on site, in petitions, on social networking & independent media threw the government off balance--at least for the meanwhile. After hours of confrontation & negotiation between activists & military cops, & political officials, the military left the scene without charging the building. But it was certain they’d be back because at a news conference in October 2012, Sergio Cabral, the governor of Rio de Janeiro announced: “The Indian Museum near the Maracanã will be demolished. It’s being demanded by FIFA & the World Cup Organizing Committee. Long live democracy, but the building has no historical value. We’re going to tear it down.”

Last Friday, a Brazilian federal court (demonstrating once again the cozy relationship of the judicial system to the power elite) ruled that residents had 72 hours to vacate the building. There are no reports the residents have complied with the order & their continuing protests suggest they intend to defy it. This man & woman are residents of Maracanã Village. It’s likely the government will now send in riot cops & bulldozers. Our fullest respect & solidarity with the struggle of the residents. Housing is a human right. And if the Brazilian government stands in the way of that right, it will have to go!

1 comment:

  1. I came to know about "Guaranis" in that great film The Robert de nero...

    Their struglle has not ended even after 3 centuries ..alas