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  • November 6, 2013

Musings: Eviction in Rio’s Favelas

When photographer Lianne Milton heard about the evictions happening in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, she immediately knew that she needed to document the process. She is a documentarian at heart, having explored other socially complex situations such as violence in Guatemala and water issues in Cambodia. Milton says that the evictions happen fairly rapidly, and few people have been able to capture them in progress. For her, this photo essay depicting the community of Largo do Tanque in Rio’s West Zone “documents one day in the life of an eviction to show how fleeting a home can be.”

A young resident looks inside her home as her family is evicted from their house in the Largo do Tanque favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday, February 25, 2013.
A young resident looks inside her home as her family is evicted from their house in the Largo do Tanque favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday, February 25, 2013.

Brazil’s favelas are sometimes seen as insignificant squatter communities because they began without government involvement and evolved organically. Milton says that favelas “are not slums or shantytowns. People do not live on dirt floors and in wooden shacks. Favelas are neighborhoods that emerged from a need for housing. They were created by the residents with no state support, with no governmental regulation or outside ‘developers.’ And as residents earned better incomes, their quality of life improved, as well as their housing. Today it is commonplace that homes have tiled floors, electricity, running water, TVs, and other appliances. Fifty percent of all households in favelas have computers. And some have million-dollar views.”

With Brazil preparing to expand for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, many regions are being torn up and restructured. In some cases, this involves evicting people from their homes and destroying them to build a new road, stadium, or complex. Many of these evictions are happening without notice or direct coverage from the media. For her photo essay, Milton focused on one community, Largo do Tanque, in Rio’s West Zone. Residents were forced from their homes to make room for the Transcarioca Highway, which is intended to help ease congestion during the Olympic Games. The demolition of this community happened over a fairly short period of time. In less than two weeks, 54 houses were demolished. Residents were offered compensation but not enough to buy a new home or property.

Milton’s photographs show the abrupt extraction of people from their homes in real time. Timing is everything, and that is especially true in this instance. In order for her to make this experience real to other people, she needed to capture every little moment as the evictions progressed. She shows the destruction, but she also shares the reactions and devastation of the community members. Unfortunately, Largo do Tanque is just one small piece of the puzzle. Brazil is changing at such a rapid pace that it is almost impossible to document the whole process. Little slices and samples like Milton’s project are incredibly telling in their brutal honesty and give us clues to the bigger picture.

Homes are destroyed in Rio de Janeiro's Largo do Tanque favela in February 2013.
Homes are destroyed in Rio de Janeiro’s Largo do Tanque favela in February 2013.
Destroyed homes in the Largo do Tanque favela in Rio de Janeiro's West Zone.
Destroyed homes in the Largo do Tanque favela in Rio de Janeiro’s West Zone.
A boy holds a samba flag on the destroyed bricks of a demolished home in Largo do Tanque in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, February 25, 2013. Homes were manually destroyed to render them uninhabitable.
A boy holds a samba flag on the destroyed bricks of a demolished home in Largo do Tanque in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, February 25, 2013. Homes were manually destroyed to render them uninhabitable.
Residents of Largo do Tanque watch the demolition of homes in Rio de Janeiro's West Zone.
Residents of Largo do Tanque watch the demolition of homes in Rio de Janeiro’s West Zone.
Thirty-year resident Maria Estele, of Largo do Tanque, was compensated only $7,000 USD—not enough to buy a new home or property, according to Milton.
Thirty-year resident Maria Estele, of Largo do Tanque, was compensated only $7,000 USD—not enough to buy a new home or property, according to Milton.

 

The demolition zone expands rapidly in Largo do Tanque in February 2013.
The demolition zone expands rapidly in Largo do Tanque in February 2013.

View more of Lianne Milton’s work on her website.

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There are 22 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Sergio
    November 21, 2013

    A corrupt socialist Government is the real cause of this tragedy. Amazingly, these very hypocrites rail against ‘corporate’ greed and the elites, in order to get the poor to vote for them and get screwed over and over. Ignorance is no bliss in Brazil.

  2. maria
    November 9, 2013

    BASTA!!!! A questi governi che fanno gli interessi dei pochi ricchi e non salvaguardano tutto il loro popolo!!!

  3. Vasilios
    November 8, 2013

    Condemned to the worst fate by the people of brazil who rebelled against higher taxes and commuter fares. Governments always work on a tied budget.Most off the times It is up to the cohesiveness and support from the community to set things right.In the case of Rio de Janeiro there seams to be a luck of compassion towards the poor.Job skills and work should be the first priorities of the government for those people.The city of Rio de janeiro is the host of the 2016 olympic games with the olympic torch still long way to light up the city.

  4. Steve D
    November 8, 2013

    So government “fails” their people with a poor economy and substandard housing. The people build their own thriving communities on their own. The country want to improve it’s “international image” so it lands the Olympics and promptly bully’s those same people who just want to be left alone. Long live libertarianism.

  5. Sandra Neusa Marchesini Ferreira
    November 7, 2013

    This is exactly what`s happening in our country, due to World Cup 2014. Very few people earn a lot of money and hundreds of others loose their house and receive almost anything, impossible to buy another house. That`s why I won`t watch the games!!!!

  6. Brian
    November 7, 2013

    With all due respect, Vosko, according to Article V of the Brazilian Statute of the City of 2001 which regulates the urban reform components of the Brazilian Constitution, the buildings being illegally ripped down in these photos are not “illegal housing” since the residents have been living in there for more than 5 years. Furthermore, their evictions are being conducted in violation of many different laws including the Lei Orgânica do Municipio de Rio de Janeiro which stipulates that relocations must take place to neighboring areas. Please to not try to criminalize the victims of this illegal eviction process. The real criminals are the government officials who are violating Brazilian law to benefit their cronies in the real estate and construction industry.

  7. gaye russell
    November 7, 2013

    I feel angry and disgusted that the developed world stand by watching with disturbing disinterest, continuing to line their own pockets, saying they can t do anything about it. Well, we can and we shall! I have made it my personal mission to rectify this imbalance in wealth, and social inequality through producing a street parade that says what is happening in Rio. I lived there for 3 yrs and I am still saddened by people saying I can do nothing. If I can t, what s the point in evolution. I won t give up on the country, the city and the people that I now have in my heart. I m here, just me and I haven t forgotton. I m pushing for justice. I ve nothing to lose. I lost my home here during Thatcher times and again this year. Greed is the route of evil. I know what being in the street is like. Not through being a social nuisance but from exclusion. 2013 is a year of atrocities and I want justice. I will find a way …

  8. marie
    November 7, 2013

    well when they have there olympics i dont want anything to do with it if there treating people like this and i think all countries should know including the EU nation

  9. magfi
    November 7, 2013

    que contrariedad del hombre en si vivir para destruir en vez de construir

  10. neudivanio
    November 7, 2013

    I am Brazilian and I am outraged to see such images, and Brazil a country without laws this is happening here and nobody does anything to change this situation pair where is the public prosecutor OAB (Bar Association of Brazil) they do not see that the law here and only for the rich and poor government does what it wants and the people of the slums can not do anything just watch with eyes full d’agua your home being destroyed your dream home now in this ground and not merely rubble.

  11. rommel
    November 7, 2013

    Favelas are home to real people!

  12. Stephen Harris
    November 7, 2013

    Typical dispicable behaviour of modern mankind which is going on all over the world.

  13. Joe Torres
    November 7, 2013

    This is just one little probs that brazilian population have to face daily… As brazilian citizen i few ashamed … Our government is so corrupt that not even gonna waist my time to talk about… Not even one single person with dignity and honour on that parliament…

  14. goutam das
    November 7, 2013

    Right to shelter under threat.

  15. Eddie Guild
    November 7, 2013

    its plain wrong want a disgrace.

  16. M. Jack Luedke
    November 7, 2013

    As a former co-worker of Lianne’s, I commend her work on this very important subject. The authorities, and those with wealth and power, do this because they can and the residents are poor and powerless. But it is wrong. The International Olympic Committee members and the sponsors of the Olympics should be ashamed to stand by in silence and allow this to happen. Human rights organizations should be outraged. I know there are other crises in the world far worse than this, but this is so unnecessary. I know it is all for the sake of economic development, so why not give these people their fair share as compensation for the loss of their homes. As for myself, I’ll not watch these Olympics or the World Soccer Cup. Is there an organization out there trying to help these people?

  17. Pravintse
    November 6, 2013

    Stealing from poor and providing it to rich. Govenments do this everywhere

  18. vosko
    November 6, 2013

    Technically, this is illegal housing. While a result of unbalanced social status, these residents were living illegally. A nuisance can be abided for a while, but sometimes, change must happen. You cut your hair when it gets too long. It is not your hairs fault, but it must be done.

  19. RICARDO GOES
    November 6, 2013

    ….SENHORES,ESTE RELATO E PROVA VIVA DE COMO O CAPITALISMO E DESMEDIDO E VORAZ, OS GOVERNANTES,MESMO QUE ELEITOS ¨PELO POVO EM SUA DEMOCRACIA¨,SOFRE AS PRESSÕES DOS GRANDES INTERESSES PRIVADOS. NÃO SE RESPEITA SUAS RAÍZES FAMILIARES E NEM O LOCAL ONDE SE MORA A LONGOS ANOS.
    SE PROPAGA UMA NECESSIDADE DE DESENVOLVIMENTO,SEM LIMITES,SEM RESPEITAR O SER ¨HUMANO¨, IMAGINA SE VÃO RESPEITAR O NOSSO PLANETA, QUE E NOSSA ÚNICA CASA.

    (SEM RESPEITAR A VIDA,NÃO SE VIVE NEM EM SOCIEDADE. SEJA EM QUALQUER LUGAR DO MUNDO )

  20. Luzia
    November 6, 2013

    Revolting.

  21. claudia
    November 6, 2013

    UNFAIR; UNJUST; SAD; WRONG!

  22. Shyana
    November 6, 2013

    This is so sad!

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