Communities facing displacement take fight to Dilma

Publicado: agosto 5, 2013 em Atos, COMUNIDADES DO TRILHO, Copa do Mundo, Manifestação, Matéria, Notícias
Two members from about 4,000 families facing removal by a World Cup 2014 Light Rail project in Fortaleza, Brazil, managed to present a document to President Dilma Rousseff detailing the atrocities they have experienced in the project’s implementation at an event earlier this month, according to The Movement to Fight in Defense of Housing (MLDM).

Protest to prevent World Cup removals

Protesters outside inauguration of two metro stations. Photo: Mídia Ninja

About a thousand protesters greeted the president who was attending the inauguration ceremony of two metro stations, where the community members had managed to enter the highly-policed event and gain the president’s attention. In addition to those from the threatened communities, their supporters, and various other groups all protesting outside, there was a strong presence of indigenous peoples calling for a politic that values them through the demarcation, recognition, and protection of their traditional territories, according to MLDM. They were also protesting against the high frequency of indigenous deaths throughout Brazil.

Indigenous leaders at protest

Indigenous groups attend in support, along with additional demands. Photo: Mídia Ninja

The state has recently taken steps to begin construction of this World Cup Light Rail project that links the wealthy hotel area of Fortaleza to the soccer stadium despite the organized resistance among the 22 communities affected demanding to remain in their homes. But as the world has seen throughout recent months, thousands of people have taken to the streets throughout Brazil, facing violent police repression, to fight for a change in the priorities of those in power as billions of dollars enter the country for the World Cup and Olympics. The protests upon the president’s arrival in Fortaleza show this momentum is only continuing to build.

The following is a statement – translated from Portuguese – posted to MLDM’s facebook account shortly after the protest that involves a horrific encounter between the community members and the governor of the region, Cid Gomez, who continues to completely disrespect and disregard the demands of the communities:

A very brief account of the demonstration today [July 18th] at the Metrofor station: We focused on the José de Alencar plaza and from there we went to the station, which is right next to it. From early on, a tight security scheme had already isolated the outside of the station. When we arrived the “blah, blah, blah” of the authorities inside was starting.Besides residents and supporters of the communities threatened by the light rail removals, there was a large number of indigenous people from various parts of the state. Other groups were also there thickening the broth and the buzz was big. There were no political parties, at least on the outside, among the protesters.Beyond slogans, chants, and indigenous dance, at one point the protesters made a cordon preventing  officials and others invited to the event from entering at the station. After all, if we could not get in, they couldn’t either! In a few moments, protesters tore down isolation grids and threw them into the street, which were immediately replaced by cordons and shock troops protected by shields, eventually preventing our attempts to enter the station. Although the security scheme was strong, up to the point of snipers on top of a building, the conflicts didn’t advance to the level of the demonstrations surrounding the Castelão (the stadium used for the Confederations Cup and that will be used for the World Cup), and it wasn’t necessary to put the FIFA standard of police repression into action. This time there was no pepper spray to spice things up!

An indigenous committee and two residents from the Comunidades do Trilho (communities along the tracks) managed to enter the event. There they gave President Dilma Rousseff a document containing the various reports of true atrocities that are occurring in the implementation of the Light Rail. For about five minutes, the president listened to the two of them tell the tragedy and the communities’ fight against the removals. Bewildered, Governor Cid Gomes moved away, and when the president turned her back, he went over to the residents asking what they wanted, to which they responded they want to be treated like people. It was then that the most bizarre and disgusting fact of all occurred.As an example of the inhumane treatment that the communities threatened with removal have been receiving from the government, the two spoke about 15 elderly residents who have already died because of the immense pressures that a removal process entails. With shameless audacity, the governor replied: “IF THEY DIED IT’S BECAUSE THEY HAD TO DIE!” After he mocked them sending kisses!

At the end of the ceremony, protestors made other blockades in the station exits. Whoever was inside had a hard time leaving. With the end of the ceremony we retreated and dispersed!

MLDM

We will continue to post updates and ways to support the Comunidades do Trilho and Movement to Fight in Defense of Housing as this story unfolds.
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