Forced evictions before the World Cup and now the Olympics has displaced thousands of poor people against their will
In the run up to the 2014 world cup, the people of Brazil manifested their discontent and protested against a repressive state that was misusing the public’s resources for an event in which the biggest winner ended up being the corrupt FIFA.
Despite the massive discontent from a country that breathes football, the world was more dumb founded by Germany’s 7- 1 trashing of Brazil (What’s impressive anyways? The Germans are football gods).
Among the injustices that the people of Brazil were protesting, was the forced displacement of thousands of people from their homes and neighborhoods to build public infrastructure for the World Cup. Two years later, as Brazil is weeks away from hosting the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, the problem of forced displacement in Brazil needs to be looked at again.
Last year, in 2015, the community of Vila Autodromo, in Barra de Tijuca, where the Olympic Park is situated, became the epicenter of this displacement crisis. While a large number of inhabitants decided to accept compensation from the government, those who decided to stay in their homes were met with harsh repression from the government, which came to the community armed with rubber bullets and bulldozers.
Those who decided to move out of the communities, and accept the governments compensation, often don’t end up better than before. New relocation communities are often farther away from the center of the city, and militias of former police men and firefighters extort money out of inhabitants or threaten to kick them out of their new communities.
The city of Rio De Janeiro has been systematically cutting any access between low income communities and the more affluent stable sites in Rio that will be host to the Brazil Olympics, making it harder for these communities to have access to any jobs.
And as The Guardian explains, “As well as the loss of jobs, residents also complained they had to pay more for utilities. A lack of local schools, health facilities and other basic infrastructure is another common concern for those living on the fringes of the city.”
In this manner, the government of Rio has made it harder for displaced communities to have good access to basic rights such as work, education, and health care.
At the center of these internal displacements and disenfranchisement of the poor in Brazil, is the desire of a real estate developer, Carlos Carvalho, who wants to make Barra Tijuca the center of Rio Janiero, which will be a city of the “elite”, and “cleared of poor communities”. Social cleansing of the poor at its finest.
When it comes to sports, it truly amazes me how many of us feel angry and take offense whenever a player takes steroids, or a referee makes a bad call that hurts the efforts of an athlete. But in situations like the one we are seeing in Brazil, it is important to look at the bigger picture, and demand that organizing bodies subject their host countries to strict guidelines that respect the rights of the disenfranchised and marginalized, and that their rights will not be trampled upon by the desires of the powerful and wealthy.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to watch the World Cup and the Olympics as much as the dude down the block. But it would feel much better if my entertainment was not built on human suffering.