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Olympics Construction Plans Clashing with Local Residents

Olympics Construction Plans Clashing with Local Residents

With just over a year until the start of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, preparations are already in full swing. Unfortunately, for some local residents, those preparations involve flattening their homes for infrastructure projects.

According to one report, government officials are evicting residents of Vila Autódromo, one of Rio de Janeiro’s favela communities, so that roads can be built to the new Olympic facilities. While many of the residents have already given in to the government’s demands, some of them intend to fight to keep their homes.

The Vila Autódromo evictions were first announced in 2009. Of the roughly 760 families living in the community at that time, about 590 accepted government compensation and moved out. However, some of the residents intend to remain. Recently residents have expressed concerns about how they are being treated by the government. For example, a public defender said the residents who were evicted were not given the 30-day notice that is required by Brazilian law. They also were not given appropriate compensation for having to leave their homes.

Perhaps the real underlying issue is that some residents believe the infrastructure projects are simply a front. They believe the government simply wants the land for luxury development once the Olympics are over.

Most recently, the conflict between the local authorities and the Vila Autódromo residents escalated as government officials came to evict residents from two of the homes in the community. The authorities encountered a community of protesters. A clash then ensued, which involved violence on both sides. At least six people were injured, some of them requiring hospital care.

One resident, seventy-six-year-old Denise Costos de Santos, said:

I’m just sad about everything that happened, because it was unnecessary. I’ve been here for 25 years. The trees here have grown up at the same time as my son. They’ve taken those out, and I know they’ll take out many more yet.

For the time being, Rio de Janeiro representatives have made a compromise, saying that some of the remaining residents will be able to stay as long as their homes are not in the way of the roads needed to get to the Olympic Park site. For now, neither side wants to budge. The residents want to keep their homes, and the officials want to build the roads. With the start of the Olympics quickly approaching though, a final resolution will soon need to be reached.

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