Annual Report: Brazil 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Brazil 2011

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  • In Niteroi municipality, Rio de Janeiro state, more than 100 people died after part of the Morro do Bumba favela collapsed in mudslides. The favela had been built on a garbage dump and, despite many warnings of high toxicity and instability, including a study carried out by the Fluminense Federal University in 2004, no attempts had been made to mitigate risks or resettle residents. At the end of the year, survivors of the floods, including residents of the Morro do Bumba, were being housed in abandoned military barracks in extremely precarious conditions. They told Amnesty International that more than six months after being made homeless, the municipal authorities had not offered them any alternative housing and that the rent assistance they were receiving was unreliable and insufficient.
  • After months of threats, on 22 October at 9am, council workers accompanied by heavily armed civil and military police began bulldozing a commercial district that had existed for more than 20 years, destroying five shops in the community of Restinga, in Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Rio de Janeiro. The works were undertaken as part of the construction of the Transoeste bus corridor. The community was not given any prior warning of the operation.
  • Residents of the favela do Metrô, near Rio's Maracanã stadium, were repeatedly threatened with eviction. Without any information, consultation or negotiation, municipal workers spray-painted houses to be demolished in June. They told residents that they would either be moved to housing estates in Cosmos, some 60km away on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, or into temporary shelters and that no compensation would be offered.
  • In October, 3,000 people from the homeless movement occupied four abandoned buildings in the centre of São Paulo. Police initially stopped food and water from entering the buildings. After families were evicted from one of the buildings in November, they set up a protest camp in front of the council offices. On 22 November, in the middle of a storm, members of the Municipal Guard violently removed the families, using tear gas, pepper spray and truncheons. Ten women and seven men were injured.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

Indigenous Peoples fighting for their constitutional rights to traditional lands continued to face discrimination, threats and violence. The situation was particularly grave in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where Guarani-Kaiowá communities faced persistent persecution from gunmen hired by local farmers. In spite of efforts on the part of federal prosecutors to speed up the process to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples to traditional lands, the process remained stalled.

The Guarani-Kaiowá communities of Y'poí, Ita'y Ka'aguyrusu and Kurusú Ambá in the south of Mato Grosso do Sul state were harassed and attacked by hired gunmen. In the community of Kurusú Ambá, a three-year-old Indigenous boy died after suffering bouts of diarrhoea in September. At the time the security situation had been deemed so dangerous that the Federal Health Agency had suspended visits.

  • In October in the south of Bahia state, Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe leader José de Jesus Silva (known as Zé da Gata) was shot dead by a gunman riding on a motorcycle. José de Jesus Silva was trying to deliver supplies to an Indigenous occupation of traditional lands. A decision relating to the demarcation of Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe lands had been pending in the Supreme Court since 1983.

Land disputes

Threats and violence against landless workers continued, often carried out by gunmen hired by farmers. Few cases were adequately investigated.