HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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25 July 2011

Favela do Metrô

Today’s adventure was a visit to the Favela do Metrô, where I met with a group of aspiring documentary film makers associated with the Cinema Nosso school in Rio. The Favela do Metrô has been a continual target of the municipal government and the Municipal Housing Secretary (SMH).  Tom Phillips and Douglas Engle produced an excellent piece for the Guardian about the destruction of the houses in the community. What happened was that the SMH came with offers of “resettlement” in the Morar Carioca program in Cosmos, 70 km to the west. About 100 of the 400 families in the Community took them up on the offer. As soon as they signed the papers and gathered their belongings, the SMH came in and destroyed their homes. The Guardian video is well worth watching and I am adding to the tale here with a few pictures of my own. The sense of helplessness was palpable and most residents expressed a sense of tremendous insecurity about the future. 



This is the wall framing the entrance to the community. It doesn't leave much doubt about the way that people here feel about the way things are going. 
Eduardo Paes (mayor) is the enemy of the people!
No to the removal of the Community of the Metro!




The President of the Comunidade do Metro residents' association explains the process by which the sMH comes in and spraypaints the houses marked for removal. The yellow paint under the SMH is intended to cover up the numbers to make the work of the SMH more difficult. These marks are eerily reminiscent of a certain tactic used by a certin unsavory government in the 1930s to mark the houses of an undesired population. 




The results are not encouraging. The houses on either side of those destroyed have had their structural integrity compromised. Instead of cleaning up the mess they created, the SMH simply leaves the rubble behind. This devalorizes the area, creates health risks and generally makes everything worse than it was before. This process will likely continue until the area is "cleaned" in order to make way for remote parking for the Maracanã. There are no clear ways to resolve to a very large problematic, only hair-brained solutions and gestapo tactics coming from a short-sighted and callous government. 
Liticia getting water from a hole in the wall next to a recently destroyed house.

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