Brazil is soon to become the world’s sporting capital. Much like Beijing 2008, residents of Rio’s many favelas are already being subjected to human rights violations in order for the country to put on a show. But as long as the games look good, who are the International Olympic committee to bat an eyelid?
Having worked with transport at the London 2012 Olympics, it is easy to see why the games ran so smoothly situated in a global city with such an impressive infrastructure. The worry of commuters in London now pales in comparison to the real problems facing residents of Rio De Janeiro’s favelas.
In order to impress the world, Brazil must improve. How? Uninformed destruction of the poorest peoples’ homes, of course. Relocation of residents is bad enough, but explainable. It is estimated by the Popular Committee that 22,000 residents will have to be relocated in Rio for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Space is needed around the famous Maracana stadium, and transport needs to improve greatly. However, the manner in which the Brazilian government has approached removing their citizens is disgraceful.
The UN special reporter for adequate housing, Raquel Rolinki, has described this situation as becoming a “state of exception”. This meaning that the human rights of Brazils poor will be compromised for the sporting events. The reason for this is the lack of support, information and solutions.
Residents are not told why their homes are being destroyed, there is a complete lack of respect and transparency employed. If residents accept the compensation, they are not given enough money to purchase a new house. In the Favela do Metro, those who refused to accept the terms of compensation, were effectively moved out due to improper partial demolitions of their properties.
Favelas have undergone successful changes in recent years. The “shanty town” label is disappearing after impressive crackdowns on crime and drugs. Generations have struggled and now many prosper in these tight-knit communities. Residents of Vila Autodromo, otherwise know as a “little corner of paradise”, is an example of a non-stereotypical favela. The residents are resisting and presenting the mayor of Rio with alternative plans. The government should have initially provided alternatives. Destroying livelihoods should be a last resort.
Residents of Vila Autodromo are putting on a brave fight, however, with the already exposed lack of debate and sound solutions, I sincerely doubt officials will care of their plight. Many proud people of Vila Autodromo have begun to be moved a one hour and thirty minute car journey away from Rio. The depressing, deserted, newly constructed Campo Grande is where they have been taken. Effectively, they have been placed where the world cannot see them. They are now far from the hospitals and employment of Rio De Janeiro which so necessary to the lives of these residents.
The World Cup and Olympics is supposed to provide prosperity. It will. Just not to the poor. They will make way, their homes and livelihoods destroyed, and the world will come to visit. Who will actually question this behaviour? China did exactly this and the games were praised. Involved companies and organisations will be aware. Still, they will not care because Brazil is putting on a deceptive smile and money will circulate all the same.
By Jamie McCloskey