This is the final post in our two-part series (read part one here).
In the beginning of 2012, we began working with our partners in Brazil to find, track, verify, and connect videos about communities facing forced evictions in Rio de Janeiro. We wanted to link these videos together in order to shed light on the bigger story they were telling and counter the local government’s repeated denials that these forced evictions were even happening as the city geared up for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Our video curation project identified 114 videos and, over the course of 18 months, we worked hard to extract the common threads and find the overarching story – in this post, I’ll dive deeper into our findings from this research and tell you what we discovered (but, if you missed it, check out my previous post for more background on why and how we began this project).
What we found out
The 114 videos identified featured reports of forced evictions in 21 communities across Rio – here are some graphs that provide an idea of who produced these videos and what stage of eviction they represented.
As we pieced together the different testimonies and stories, what emerged from our massive database of videos was a clear and undeniable portrait of the brutality of the forced evictions that have been unfolding in Rio for the past several years.
We selected some of the most powerful testimonies we came across and highlighted them in this compilation video:
Our research showed common patterns of violations in communities threatened with forced evictions, as well as those undergoing evictions or already evicted. [Note: percentages in the charts below may add up to more than 100% because some videos contained multiple violations]
The chart below details the most common violations in communities at risk of forced eviction.
Here’s one example of what the violation of the right to information looks like in real life:
At first they (city workers) came here saying we had to get registered to receive government benefits. The residents did that, and then a week later they came back marking the houses with spray-paint, taking pictures, and saying the community was going to be removed because the residents had already consented and signed the documents.
-Gisele, resident evicted from the Vila Harmonia community in Remoções justificadas pela Copa e Olimpíadas no RJ – Vila Harmonia
In the communities undergoing forced evictions, the most common violations reported in the videos included:
Listen to Edmilson describe the horror of watching his home being destroyed without knowing what to do, or where to go, next:
They (city workers) came, gave us a few minutes to get our things… we asked them to wait for us to find a place to put our belongings but they said no, they said they’d put everything on a truck to take to a storage deposit somewhere… My wife fainted, I had to take medicine because I was very psychologically affected, my brother still is. My mother suffers from hypertension, she is 71 years old and only has one lung, she also has no place to live now, none of us do. They want to send us to a shelter. We were born and raised here.
– Edmilson, resident evicted from the Largo do Campinho, in Moradores do Largo do Campinho fazem combativo protesto contra a remoção
And in the communities already forcibly evicted, here were the most common consequences reported by those affected:
Maria Zenaide says this about how forced eviction impacted her family:
My children study nearby, my youngest son, who is one, receives medical treatment at the Menino Jesus hospital nearby, and they want to take us out of here and send us far away without giving us a choice or alternative. First they got here spray-painting and marking our doors. Then they made us sign a report of interdiction, which we innocently signed without knowing, without having any information… we had to sign, we were pressured to do that. Me, for example, I’ve lived here for more than 20 years, my whole life is here.
– Maria Zenaide, resident evicted from the Favela do Metrô in Luta pela Moradia – A Voz dos Excluídos
Sadly, the story the curation reveals is not new. Our partners at Comitê Popular Rio have been raising the alarm and alerting that 100,000 people are either at-risk of losing -or have already lost- their homes in Rio alone. But the curation brings those stories to life in new, interconnected way, and by doing so it also allows the voices of those directly affected to speak as one, hopefully louder than the denials by local authorities.
As our partners have emphasized, Rio’s local government must immediately stop all forced evictions, bring those affected to the table to discuss alternative solutions, and introduce reparation measures for those already forcibly evicted from their homes. While the Rio mayor has begun making some tiny concessions lately -agreeing (for the first time) to take eviction off the table in the emblematic Vila Autódromo case for example, and even (astoundingly!) describing some of his own administration’s practices as Nazi-like in a recent interview– there is a long way ahead to ensure respect for the rights of all of Rio’s citizens.
As the campaign marches on, our partners will continue to deliver the curation project’s full report and video to state prosecutors and other authorities who must do more to end forced evictions in Rio.
To read the curation project’s complete report of findings (in Portuguese only), go to rio.portalpopulardacopa.org.br/curadoria. A huge thank you to all that worked so hard to bring this project to life, including our curators Glaucia Marinho and Gizele Martins, as well as Vladimir Seixas for editing the compilation video, Tiago Donato, Renato Cosentino and Mário Campagnani for working on the curation page and distribution, and the volunteer lawyers Adriana Britto, Alexandre Mendes, and Mariana Medeiros.
To help those fighting to end forced evictions in Brazil, support the work of our partners at Comitê Popular Rio and sign the petition at the #RioSemRemoções campaign. And to learn more, check out these blog posts and watch these videos.