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As Brazil Marks One-Year Countdown to 2014 World Cup, Thousands Cope with Forced Evictions

Posted on June 12, 2013 by Ryan Schlief

Today, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and FIFA President Sepp Blatter will officially mark the one-year countdown to the opening of the 2014 World Cup. Meanwhile, thousands of Brazil’s residents struggle to rebuild their lives after being forcibly removed from their homes to prepare for the multi-billion dollar sports event. Thousands more fear they will be the next victims as the government razes entire neighborhoods to make way for new infrastructure for the World Cup, as well as the 2016 Olympics.

On Saturday 15 June in Rio de Janeiro, residents affected by forced evictions will stage a “People’s Cup,” (more information available on their website) with teams representing different communities that have been displaced or are threatened. Local community advocates and their supporters worldwide have vowed to turn the spotlight around the World Cup and Olympics onto the global reality of forced evictions.

Our executive director Yvette Alberdingk Thijm noted, “While the world counts down to the 2014 World Cup, another story is being told in the People’s Cup. Communities who were likely quite excited at first about their country hosting the ultimate football tournament, today are facing costs many of us cannot imagine.”

One of those affected is Michel, a resident and community leader from the Restinga neighborhood, that was razed to prepare for the World Cup and Olympics. Here he speaks about the experience:

170,000 Brazilians are at risk of losing—or have already lost—their homes in forced evictions tied to preparations for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. While mega-events such as the World Cup are a driver of forced evictions, the phenomenon is not limited to Brazil or to major sporting events: an estimated 15 million people across the globe are forcibly uprooted from their homes each year as a result of on-going physical abuse, threats and intimidation and often without consultation and compensation.

Forced evictions in Rio violate existing legislation at the municipal, state, federal and international levels. The Brazilian Federal Constitution establishes housing as a basic right and Rio de Janeiro’s State Constitution and Municipal City Code establish that publicly-owned lands should be designated social interest housing. Under Brazil’s obligations under international law, forced evictions constitute gross violations of a range of human rights.*

“One year away, people around the world are asking if Brazil will be ready to host a successful World Cup,” said Raquel Rolnik, U.N. Special Rapporteur for adequate housing, and native of Brazil. “A successful World Cup for Brazil and really for any country participating cannot be built on violating human rights! World Cup-related evictions are taking place in violation of human rights standards but it is not too late for Brazil to change the trend. The country has the legal framework and the money and still has time to do a better World Cup – one without human rights abuses.”

Watch more stories from communities affected by forced evictions in Brazil:

Join the conversation on Twitter by following #forcedevictions, #2014Brazil and #remocoesforcadas.

* — Upon further review the sentence was updated to reflect current interpretation of international human rights law.

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