Accumulation by Forced Removal: The Thinning of Rio de Janeiro's Favelas in Preparation for the Games
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 December 2016
In this article we argue that the pacification of strategic Rio de Janeiro favelas is a case of what David Harvey calls accumulation by dispossession, allowing for capital accumulation at multiple scales. Drawing on multi-year participant observation, we seek to show the particular form that this process takes as it works through Rio's social and spatial structures. Unlike the mass removals of the 1960s and 1970s, favela families have more recently been displaced through a process of thinning, in the context of a neoliberal development programme centred on a series of mega-events. Removal is carried out through a combination of threats, promises, disinformation, and the intentional generation of insecurity that together constitute a form of psychological terror.
En este artículo argumentamos que la pacificación de las estratégicas favelas de Río de Janeiro es un caso de lo que David Harvey llama acumulación por desposesión, permitiendo la acumulación de capital en varios niveles. Basándonos en una práctica de varios años de observación participante, buscamos mostrar la forma particular que el proceso toma en la medida que avanza a través de las estructuras sociales y espaciales de Río. Al contrario de evicciones masivas de los años 1960s y 1970s, las familias de las favelas han sido desplazadas más recientemente a través de un proceso de adelgazamiento, en el contexto de un programa de desarrollo neoliberal centrado en una serie de mega-eventos. Las evicciones son llevadas a cabo a través de una combinación de amenazas, promesas, desinformación y la generación intencional de inseguridad, lo que junto constituye una forma de terror psicológico.
Defendemos neste artigo que a pacificação de favelas estratégicas do Rio de Janeiro é um exemplo do que David Harvey chamou de acumulação por espoliação, que permite uma acumulação de capital em escalas múltiplas. A partir da observação participante em anos diversos, buscamos demonstrar a forma particular que este processo assume na medida em que avança através de estruturas sociais e espaciais do Rio de Janeiro. Ao contrário das remoções em massa das décadas de 1960 e 1970, as famílias que vivem nas favelas têm recentemente sido desalojadas através de um processo de raleamento, no contexto de um programa neoliberal de desenvolvimento centrado em uma série de megaeventos. O despejo é realizado através de uma combinação de ameaças, promessas, desinformação, e a geração intencional de insegurança que juntas constituem uma forma de terror psicológico.
- Research Article
- Journal of Latin American Studies , Volume 49 , Issue 3 , August 2017 , pp. 549 - 577
- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016
1 Interview with Francicleide da Costa, president, residents’ association Favela do Metrô , 23 July 2012.
2 Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights: Opportunities for the Olympic Movement and Others (Geneva, 2007) available at http://www.crin.org/en/docs/One_World_Whose_Dream_July08%5B1%5D.pdf; Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, One World, Whose Dream? Housing Rights Violations and the Beijing Olympic Games (Geneva, 2008) available at sarp.org/documents/Planned%20Dispossession.pdf.
3 Housing and Land Rights Network, Planned Dispossession: Forced Evictions and the 2010 Commonwealth Games (Fact-finding Mission Report, vol. 14, New Delhi, 2011).
4 See Comité Popular da Copa e Olimpíadas do Rio de Janeiro, Olimpíada Rio 2016, O Jogos da exclusão. Megaeventos e Violações dos Direitos Humanos no Rio de Janeiro, Dossiê do Comitê Popular da Copa e Olimpíadas do Rio de Janeiro (2015 November), p. 20. Faulhaber and Azevedo put the number at 20,299 families between January 2009 and December 2014, citing SMH sources. See Faulhaber, Lucas and Azevedo, Lena, SMH 2016: remoções no Rio de Janeiro Olímpico (Rio de Janeiro: Mórula, 2015), p. 16 Google Scholar.
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9 Favelas in the Centre, South Zone, Tijuca Basin, near event sites and along key event transportation corridors have been particularly targeted by the interventions discussed in this article. Not all displacement associated with the games are in favelas, nor are most favela removals directly attributable to the games. But the bulk of removals are occurring in Rio's favelas and we argue that the games are an important context for these removals.
10 Cable-car is our translation of teleferico, ski-lift style pods suspended from over-head cables. Funicular is our translation of plano inclinado, a train-style wagon that hugs the steep slopes of some of Rio's favelas.
11 This article focuses on the removals process; it is beyond the scope of this article to analyse resistance in detail.
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13 While most of these interviews were with favela residents, we also interviewed numerous government officials (at city, state and federal levels), technical experts (such as geotechnical engineers, urban planners, and architects), local specialists on favelas, housing and relevant public policies, urban legal scholars and public defenders, and police officials. For Freeman this article is part of ongoing research on the consequences of mega-events, and particularly Police Pacification Units, for Rio de Janeiro's favelas. Since 2010 Freeman has conducted approximately 260 interviews with residents of 18 pacified and soon to be pacified favelas. For Burgos this article is based on dissertation field work that involved living in Rocinha for over nine years between 2001 and 2016. See Marcos David Burgos, ‘Development, Security and Displacement: An Ethnographic Case Study of Rocinha and other Key Favelas in Rio de Janeiro’, unpubl. PhD diss., City University of New York, 2016. Our account of the Laboriaux removal attempt is based on Burgos’ participant observation, including the experience of having his home marked for eviction following the April 2010 rains. Research on Rocinha alone included approximately 145 interviews with 130 informants. Fieldwork and interviews in Metrô were conducted between 2010 and 2013. Interviews in Providência were conducted each summer between 2010 and 2015. We have not given the names of most favela residents interviewed, and in some cases we have changed identifying information to protect vulnerable informants.
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33 See also Adriano Belisário, ‘Concremat: de “braço auxiliary” das remoções à queda da ciclovia’, A Publica (2016), Available at: http://apublica.org/2016/07/concremat-de-braco-auxiliar-das-remocoes-a-queda-da-ciclovia/.
34 Gonçalves, Favelas do Rio de Janeiro, p. 263.
35 CREA-Rio is the Regional Council of Engineering and Agronomy of Rio de Janeiro.
36 Interview with Maurício Campos dos Santos, mechanical and civil engineer at CREA-RJ , June 2010.
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38 Ibid. The US dollar was equivalent to R$ 1.60 in 2010 and has since risen to R$ 4. We use the Jan. 2016 rate throughout this article for convenience.
39 This legal regime has been further elaborated in state and municipal law. Article 234 of the Rio de Janeiro state constitution (1989) specifies that the state and municipalities must undertake upgrading schemes, land use regulation and property title programmes in favelas without removing their inhabitants, except when life-threatening conditions leave no other choices. Article 429 of Rio de Janeiro's Municipal Organic Law (Lei Orgâncio) reinforces the state constitution by likewise specifying that urban development policy focus on rehabilitation and the regularisation of favelas. Article 429 also clearly bans the removal of favelas except when the physical conditions place the lives of residents at risk. The same article states that cases of risk must be verified by an official study conducted by a competent municipal agency and that the affected population must participate in the entire process. If residents have to be relocated it must be to a location near their residence of origin or workplace. Most recently Federal Law No. 12.608, (10 April 2012) establishes the new National Policy on Protection and Civil Defence (PNPDEC), which requires municipalities to take all possible measures to reduce whatever physical risks exist. Only when no other option exists should houses be removed or residents relocated. See Magalhães, Alex Ferreira, O Direito das Favelas (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Letra Capital, 2013)Google Scholar; Gonçalves, Rafael Soares, ‘Porto Maravilha, renovação urbana e o uso da noção de risco: uma confluência perversa no Morro da Providência’, Revista Libertas, 13. 2 (2013), p. 191 Google Scholar.
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48 Leitão, Gerônimo, Dos barracos de madeira aos Prédios de quitinete: uma análise do processo de produção de moradia na favela da Rocinha, Zona Sul da cidade do Rio de Janeiro, entre 1930 e 1990 (Rio de Janeiro: Editora UFF, 2009), p. 167 Google Scholar; Gonçalves, Favelas do Rio, pp. 244–7.
49 Despite significant inflation, the nominal aluguel social amount has not changed since 2010.
50 Interview with Mario Sá, director, PAC project Cantagalo, 16 July 2015.
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52 Comité, Megaeventos (2013), pp. 32–3.
53 Gonçalves, ‘Porto Maravilha’, p. 180.
54 Faulhaber, SMH2016, p. 16.
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58 Interview with Francicleide da Costa, 23 July 2012. Bolsa Familia is Brazil's conditional cash transfer programme.
59 Comité, Megaeventos (2013), p. 24.
60 Interview with Francicleide da Costa, 23 July 2012.
61 Comité, Megaeventos, (2013), p. 24.
62 Interview with auto-shop leader, 17 July 2013.
63 Gonçalves, ‘Porto Maravilha’, p. 197.
64 Gonçalves, ‘Porto Maravilha’, pp. 175–207; Vainer, Morro da Providência.
65 Gonçalves, ‘Porto Maravilha’, pp. 175–207.
66 Harvey, ‘From Managerialism’, pp. 3–17.
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69 Vainer, Morro da Providência, p. 21.
71 Gonçalves, ‘Porto Maravilha’, pp. 175–207.
72 Interview by with Maurício Hora, director, Casa Amarela, 19 July 2012.
73 Population estimates for Rocinha vary widely. Jorge Collaro, director of Rio de Janeiro's XXVII Administrative Region in Rocinha from 2008 to 2015, estimates 150,000 residents.
74 Figures from Rodrigo Dalvi Santana, infrastructure specialist for the Federal Ministry of Cities, presented at a meeting of Rocinha sem Fronteiras on 21 September 2013; interview with Rodrigo Dalvi Santana, 8 October 2013.
75 Complexo da Rocinha. Rio de Janeiro. Relatório Final. Censo Domiciliar. December 2009.
76 Residents partially blame the city for the deaths because a few weeks before the rains a large water pipe began leaking into a slope near the end of Rua Maria do Carmo. CEDAE was notified, but nothing was done. The already damp soil soon gave way and an avalanche of earth and trees slid down the hill crushing a house 30 metres below the leaky pipe, killing two women, Maria do Carmo and her daughter Jacqueline.
77 ‘Prefeito Eduardo Paes anuncia remoção imediata de moradores de comunidades do Rio’, O Globo (11 April 2010).
78 Leitão, Dos barracos, pp. 97–8.
79 Conversation with residents as recorded in Burgos’ field notes. The official wished to remain anonymous.
80 ‘Chuvas no Rio reavivam debate sobre remoção de favelas na cidade’, O Estadão (7 April 2010).
81 Interview with José Ricardo, president, Laboriaux residents’ association, April 2013.
82 Bautes, Nicolas, Fernandes, Lenise and Burgos, Marcos, ‘Entre confrontos e desafios na construção da legitimidade popular: algumas perspectivas sobre os movimentos de resistências em favelas do Rio de Janeiro’, Revista Libertas, 13 (2013), pp. 18–19 Google Scholar.
83 According to Rodrigo Dalvi Santana, infrastructure specialist for the Federal Ministry of Cities, who mentioned that ‘Rocinha is the Ministry of Cities’ model for all favela-upgrading schemes in Brazil.’
84 Cable-car estimate from Dalvi Santana. Dalvi Santana works on both PAC 1 and PAC 2 in Rocinha and presented these figure to residents at a meeting of Rocinha sem Fronteiras in September 2013.
85 Interview with state government official, 16 January 2013.
86 Interview with Laboriaux resident, February 2014.
88 Valladares, Passe-se uma casa.
89 Marx, Capital; Harvey, Limits to Capital; The New Imperialism; Smith, Uneven Development.