Confrontation Between Rio Police and Squatters

Via the BBC:  Clashes as police evict squatters in Rio de Janeiro

A huge police operation to evict hundreds of families from abandoned buildings in Rio de Janeiro has ended with violent clashes and some injuries.

More than 1,500 police officers had arrived at dawn to evict nearly 5,000 people from the site, belonging to a telecommunication company.

According to the report, many of the residents went peacefully, but others “threw rocks at police” and “Vehicles were set on fire and supermarkets were looted.”

The city sent social services to provide aid, although the extent of it was not clear from the article.  And, indeed:

"Teams of social workers were on site, but only 177 squatters accepted the support," the local government was quoted as saying by the Globo news portal.

The story caught my eye because communities of this nature underscore the tremendous economic gaps in Brazilian society despite the substantial strides that have been made in the last decade or so.

I also figure that moves such as this are likely linked to to image concerns by the the Brazilian government as we approach the World Cup and the Olympics. And, indeed, the story notes:

Owned by a telecommunications company, the buildings are not far from one of the venues for the 2016 Olympic Games, which will take place in Rio.

Of course, the general preference to avoid the creation of a new favela may have been sufficient motivation.  Also from the story:

The families began occupying the abandoned plot in northern Rio 10 days ago, moving in from the city’s favelas or shanty towns.

The site was already being called Rio’s newest favela.

The BBC’s Julia Carneiro in the Brazilian city says pictures on local media showed how fast work was progressing.

"The area was quickly divided into tiny plots, shacks were being raised and some residents already had illegal power connections," she says.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Andre Kenji says:

    Just a correction: favela is the equivalent of a slum. Dwellings in abandoned buildings are known as “cortiços”.

  2. @Andre Kenji: Gotcha–thanks.

    Would the construction of new dwellings outside the abandoned building be the start of a new favela?

  3. Andre Kenji says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: According to the photos, it seems to be a mixture of the two. But the local press is calling it by the name “Favela da Telerj”, a reference to the former telecom company that used to own the land.

  4. Brett says:

    Is there some issue with selling the land and property rights to it around Rio? If you’ve got favelas around the city that are squatting on land for decades, then it seems like you’ve got a fundamental issue with selling land and titles.

    Which wouldn’t surprise me in Brazil.

  5. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andre Kenji & @Steven L. Taylor:

    So there is some wordplay/social commentary going on here as well. Even if the land isn’t specifically a proper favela, it seems like many recognize it as such (and connect it to a broader history of the area).