VIDEO: Meet Elisângela, the Other Face of Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Legacy

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Priscila Néri

Elisângela wasn’t home when they arrived.  Her 17-year-old daughter called her cellphone, frantic, to break the news: “There are several men from the municipal government here at our door; they’re saying they’re going to demolish our house.”  Elisângela raced home to try to negotiate, to no avail.  In a few hours, the home she and her family had spent years building was now a pile of rubble.  Here’s what happened next (click here if you can’t see the English subtitles):

With this new video – the first in a new portrait series we’re launching with our partners from the activist network Comitê Popular Rio da Copa e Olimpíadas – we invite you to bear witness to Elisângela’s story and raise your voice against forced evictions in Brazil (or anywhere).

Like Elisângela, an estimated 30,000 people will be (or already have been) hit by forced evictions in Rio de Janeiro as the city gears up to prepare for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics – another 140,000 people are at risk in the 11 additional Brazilian cities that will also host World Cup events.  This is the other face of the much-touted legacy of these major sporting events, a side governments and sponsors prefer to keep quiet.

As you know if you’re a reader of this blog, many human rights are trampled and threatened by forced evictions – from the rights to participation, consultation and information before a forced eviction to the rights to health, education, security and livelihood after a forced eviction.

Over and over again, we hear local authorities in Rio discredit reports of forced evictions and deny any wrongdoing.  But over and over again, we meet people like Elisângela, forcefully removed from their homes without prior notice, compensation, or adequate resettlement.  It just doesn’t add up, and we’re still waiting for answers to the questions we highlighted in March after the New York Times covered the issue on its front page.

The True Meaning of Development?

This week, social movements, human rights defenders, and activists from around the world are gathered in Rio for the Global Peoples’ Summit, a civil society response to the official Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.  As world leaders discuss development goals and plans, one resounding conclusion emerges loud and clear: development without human rights is not development.

Take Action

Raise your voice and take action against forced evictions by sharing these blog posts and videos, sending us your own examples (you can tweet us using the #video4change hashtag), and supporting local communities and groups fighting evictions.  If you’re interested in Brazil, support the work of our Rio partners and of the National Coalition of Popular World Cup Committees, which brings together activist networks monitoring negative human rights impacts in each of the 12 host cities.

What Others Are Saying

  1. ฟังเพลงออนไลน์ March 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    ão tratados dessa forma, sem nenhum respeito!! esses brasileiros são vitimas de preconceito todos os dias!! preconceito racial e social!! porque os pobres estão cada vez mais pobres e entra governo e sai governo e a situação dessas pessoas so piorando!!! que pais de merda esse Brasil Não existe justiça social!! DEUS TENHA PIEDADE DESSES POBRES BRASILEIROS VITIMAS DA DISCRIMINAÇÃO!!!

  2. Christine Ferguson August 16, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Brazilian corrption and exploitation? Similar to Spain where in Andalucia 300,000 families are held to be illegal homeowners mainly due to corrupt and incompetent government juntas and Town Halls issuing illegal licences. Then they demolish illegally. Some Supreme Court apology maybe but no compensation. See the Helen and Len Prior Case, Vera, Almeria. What’s new Brazil! Just more endorsed pirate mentality.

    The art is always to join forces in an efficient manner and sack these pretenders who call themselves government representatives or employees. Those for whom we pay excessively. It’s all up to the public. We are all with you Elisangela and daughter. Take courage. You inspire us.

  3. Det August 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I do not know if this happened in case of the upcoming Olympic games but this is truly cruel. So I posted it at my facebook page for others to see what is going on there…!

  4. Angelica Bober August 15, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Re: Peter Gabriel and Witness support for people with mental illness and the people fighting the stigma. I have an Master’s in Educational Counselling, have worked in many countries in Northern and Southern Africa. I have raised my daughter as a single Mom. I have also survived being medivaced back from Botswana in 1992. I have had triple bypass surgery of my three main arteries and my daughter is about to graduate from McGill from the faculty of Education with a thesis based on refugee and migrant children; she teaches Art, Music, Theatre. She was 15 when we had the opportunity to meet Mr. Peter Gabriel at the Forum.

    I have neighbours who moved in 6 years ago ( I have owned my home since 1985), with an adult son on crack and heroin, the younger son was charged with DUI, the so called step father trolls porn sites and the mother has been on disability from CSIS while getting a nip and tuck), the Canadian CIA as I like to call it. I have contested their huge dogs going offlease without supervision and my daughter had to tell me that they have two attempted murder charges against me that she cannot expunge. I have been hospitalized with Lithium toxicity seven times in the last six months. Mental illness remains on the list of human rights where even discussion is not at the forfront. I will always remember volunteering for a Hospital Board and seeing a Public Awareness announcement with your name and your personal experience with the illness. Thank You~ Angelica Bober

  5. paulo alexandrino August 15, 2012 at 5:24 am

    o grande problema do Brasil é essa maneira de ser 3° mundo!¨sempre bajulando os gringos!! e os de casa são tratados dessa forma, sem nenhum respeito!! esses brasileiros são vitimas de preconceito todos os dias!! preconceito racial e social!! porque os pobres estão cada vez mais pobres e entra governo e sai governo e a situação dessas pessoas so piorando!!! que pais de merda esse Brasil Não existe justiça social!! DEUS TENHA PIEDADE DESSES POBRES BRASILEIROS VITIMAS DA DISCRIMINAÇÃO!!!

  6. PAULINHO DITARSO August 15, 2012 at 5:22 am

    o grande problema do Brasil é essa maneira de ser 3° mundo!¨sempre bajulando os gringos!! e os de casa são tratados dessa forma, sem nenhum respeito!! esses brasileiros são vitimas de preconceito todos os dias!! preconceito racial e social!! porque os pobres estão cada vez mais pobres e entra governo e sai governo e a situação dessas pessoas so piorando!!! que pais de merda esse Brasil Não existe justiça social!! DEUS TENHA PIEDADE DESSES POBRES BRASILEIROS VITIMAS DA DISCRIMINAÇÃO!!!

  7. Mwikamba Thomas Mwambi August 2, 2012 at 7:31 am

    The video is inspiring and gives the untold true story of ‘development’

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