Since 6am the morning of Thursday, 20, about 150 riot police moved in to evict the Community of Peace in Vicente Pinzón. The reason for evicting around 350 poor families is the planned construction of a higher end, touristy housing development. All part of a process of gentrification that’s occuring not only in Fortaleza, but throughout Brazil, especially in host cities of the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
The city asserts that the families had already agreed with the eviction, but reality is that families were offered a $100 allowance to agree to move. Many signed the agreement in desperation yet knowing they had no place to go or any intention of leaving their homes.
Five people were injured during the police assault, two of them women–one of them 8months pregnant, two men and a military police officer. Riot Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to remove families from the neighbourhood as residents attempted to grab what belongings they could and flee.
A young 8 months pregnant woman, identified as Cecil de Queiroz da Silva, 21 years, recounts the events.
“At the time the eviction started they began shooting of Rubber Bullets, Then I ran and at that time a POLICEMAN KICKED in MY belly”. “NA HORA DA CORRERIA, COMEÇOU O TIROTEIO DE BALA DE BORRACHA, AÍ EU CORRI E NESSA HORA UM POLICIAL DEU UM CHUTE NA MINHA BARRIGA”
By her account, a Mountie on horseback kicked her belly. It may have been an accident at the time the PM overbalanced the horse and hit her, but neither the police nor the ambulance at the scene provided help. The ambulance driver said he could not take her to the hospital because it was intended only to help police officers wounded.
She’s alive and the baby is well, according to the medical assessment. After rumors of her death circulated during the eviction, we found her, the mother and the father in a shed of the family, while they, already back from the hospital, tried to take his belongings from their home before they were knocked down by tractors.
Cecil is an employee of a children’s buffet in Papicu and waits for the second child. Lived at the top of the peace since the beginning of the occupation (Sep/2012) in a shack of 2 rooms with over 6 people. The mother, the father and a brother were also injured during the police operation.
(pictured: Cecil beside her mother, Ana Celia, in front of the family Shack, moments before being demolished)
Residents have set up barricades with burning objects to prevent the trucks from entering the homes. So far, there have been four clashes, lasting ten minutes. Riot Police use rubber bullets and tear gas, population reacts with rocks.
The Housing Development Foundation of Fortaleza (Habitafor) States that, 80% of households have signed a term of commitment that would allow the repossession of friendly area. A Foundation survey found that most inhabitants have nowhere to go after the eviction.
Eliana Garcia, President of Habitafor, said the allowance of $100.00 will be given to households by the company responsible for the work, the IRS engineering. The frequency of transfer will depend on the company and a survey of the Civil Defense, which is in place for the relocation of residents after the eviction.
The President added that the residents of the community can be integrated into the workforce of the construction of the housing estate, a proposal which has already been rejected by IRS engineering controls. The prediction is that the first batches to be delivered in January next year.