As Brazil Gears Up For Olympics, Some Poor Families Get Moved Out

by Rachel Baker on March 11, 2014

Here’s a story about the people that are being relocated in Rio de Janeiro so that the transformation for the 2016 Summer Olympics can begin.

Jeane Tomas scraped all her money together to build a house where she could raise her son. She’d been renting in the favela, or shanty town, of Vila Harmonia and wanted to put down roots in the community where she lived when her child was born.

The house went up — only to quickly come down.

“There is this frustration to have worked so hard, dreamed so much to leave everything behind,” she said.

Now that the Winter Olympics in Sochi are over attention will be turning to Brazil, the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro is undergoing a massive transformation in advance of the games
and that has brought with it a number of criticisms. Chief among them are the forcible evictions that are taking place across the city.

Tomas was among those who were moved.

It was near her work, near doctors, and other key amenities, she said. About three years ago, she was told she would have to leave to make way for a new road that was being built as part of an infrastructure upgrade.

“And I would ask them, where to? They were asking us to sign papers without knowing where we were going,” she said. “Then they showed us this place and, to be honest, we really didn’t have a choice.”

With the money she received in compensation, she said she couldn’t afford anywhere else.

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