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.
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.