Investigatory Mission Comes To Rio

Meeting with DHESCAThe highly anticipated Investigatory Mission, made up of local and international representatives, made its way through local communities affected by the forced removals occurring in Rio de Janeiro. Raquel Rolnik, Rapporteur for the United Nations, was the headliner at this series of events, which focused on trying to quantify the issues at hand. The general consensus from this series of events was that the occurrences in Rio de Janeiro are unbelievable, but that things will only get worse. Many community residents have become lax at the the idea of forced removals, but critics voiced the opinion that the worst has yet to come.

Experts suggested that social movements that protect and fight for citizen rights be restarted.

Laboriaux resident at DHESCA meeting 5-27-2011This particular attitude has affected communities like Laboriaux where various issues have plagued community unity, putting the community at a higher risk of eviction. The community’s previous united front has withered in the last months. Community onlookers say that the lax attitude towards the evictions has been one of the main causes for the disintegration. There is the idea permeating throughout the city that favelas like Rocinha, due to its size and power, can not, and will not be removed, but mission participants argued against this, suggesting that no community is immune. Some residents say that other issues have been responsible for this disintegration. A local source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, commented that Brazil’s long standing culture of corruption has reared its head at these communities. The source failed to go into detail, but suggested that a loss of unity is due more to personal gain on the back of the favela, than actual lax attitudes.

Other issues of concern were discussed during the three day event, including the seemingly smooth transition of the culture of corruption in Rio de Janeiro. It seems corruption has gone from split factions of individuals with similar interests, to cartel like entities that have organized the corruption in Rio. This has lead to problems filtering themselves throughout the city’s social system, and have cause programs to not be completed. Some programs in Rocinha have gone 14 months since their introduction, and have yet to be completed.

See this article (in Portuguese) as an example:”Buildings in Rocinha have many problems after 5 months of Inauguration”:¬†http://oglobo.globo.com/pais/mat/2011/05/07/predios-na-rocinha-tem-rachaduras-problemas-com-falta-agua-apos-cinco-meses-de-inauguracao-924410434.asp

Rolnik, who has been a leading voice within the international community, spoke on her powers to aid in the issues. Rolnik explained that she filed a report regarding the situations in the city and waited four months before receiving a response from government officials. Rolnik then filed an official complaint against the Brazilian government, which also fell on deaf ears. Seeing that the Brazilian government has mostly ignored these complaints Rolnik said that the next step is to take to the press, explaining that as an official UN Rapporteur, she has access to a in depth network of media contacts that could help bring attention, and therefore force pressure, to the issue. This network could explain the increased evictions related news in the international media. Still, this story has been absent from the US media cycle.

Brazilian media has also been absent from this issue, but it is to the surprise of no one. It is believed that journalists in Brazilian media sources will not touch this “toxic” issue, and that bribes and threats, on all levels, are limiting any objective reporting.

Though opinions on the removals are still fierce, objective opinions about what these issues represent are in agreement. Though Brazil has emerged as this century’s latest super power, vestiges of its past are hindering that progress on the ground. Democracy has been the most important development within this new Brazil, but there is nothing democratic about these evictions.