Community of Pilar (2018)
In March 2018, we were invited by residents of Pilar to intervene in their dialogue with the City Hall. 8 years had passed since the beginning of an urbanization project within the community that began in 2010 and so far has delivered 192 out of the 588 housing units that were promised. In 2018, the current administration has once again approached the community, offering units two blocks away as part of federal program Minha Casa Minha Vida. Residents are unsatisfied with the current proposal, which does not include the construction of a public market - their main request, once many of them have set up businesses inside their own homes - and are uncertain about the actual implementation of the project, since many of them have been given housing aid for the past 8 years but haven't received their apartments yet. Thus, they decided to decline the project and to demand a dialogue with the public power so that their needs are met.
As a result, a collaborative network was built around the community, involving the Popular Center of Human Rights, NGO Plano B (which is based on the community), Coletivo Arquitetura Urbanismo e Sociedade, and Núcleo de Assistência Jurídica Popular (Najup), made up of law students from Recife's Law School (FDR). Together, we organized a workshop on affective cartography, a public hearing in Recife's house of representatives, held weekly meetings in the community and took part in meetings with Urb and with the City Hall.
Ocupação Nova Caçote/Nova Recife
The occupation was formed by 400 families who occupied a property in the Areias neighborhood that had been abandoned for 10 years. CPDH took the case and filed a notice of appeal in an attempt to guarantee land tenure, postponing a process that would be consummated 4 months later. Although the property hadn't served its social purpose for a decade, the company that owns it won the case.
Ocupação Marielle Franco
In March 2018, 200 families brought together by Movimento dos Trabalhadores sem Teto (MTST - Landless Workers' Movement) occupied a building downtown Recife that had been abandoned for 10 years. CPDH has worked side-by-side with a judicial branch that was assembled in order to assist the movement with respect to the matter of land tenure, once the building's owners are claiming the property, as well as with a negotiation between the City Hall and the Public Ministry regarding the tenants' right to housing. Not only is the building failing its social purpose, but it currently owes a million and a half reals of property tax.
Comunidade de Caranguejo Tabaiares
Made up of hundreds of families, the community has been standing for 60 years. As of June 2018, residents heard that all of those who live near the channel (distance of 15m or shorter) would have to abandon their homes because the channel was about to go under construction works. As a solution for the housing problem resulting from this decision, 63 units would be made available for these people in Conjunto Habitacional do Barbalho, a housing complex in Iputinga, a neighborhood located 7km away from the community. Not only is the proposed location far from their former homes, but also the complex does not have enough units for these residents: about 150 families would be evicted, and only 63 would be relocated.
In 2013, the City Hall had announced the construction of a housing complex with 420 units within the parameters of the community, and a land expropriation decree was even noticed in the Official Gazette. Until now (July 2018), however, there are no signs of such construction in the area. It is worth mentioning that the community is a ZEIS (Special Zone of Social Interest), which means that the area should serve the purpose of social housing. Besides, should the community lose tenure, the Prezeis law determines that relocation should be done within the parameters of the community or in its outskirts.
Called by the community to help advocate for their right to the city, we filed a motion to the Public Ministry and began to offer legal advice and give them political support.
Located in the town of Jaboatão dos Guararapes, within Recife's Metropolitan Area, at least three hundred homes in the community of Loreto are in danger of eviction.
When the first residents set foot in the area, about fifty years ago, it was nothing but a wasteland that they embanked and where they build their homes on their own.
Jaboatão's City Hall, however, is doing its best to execute a project aimed at paving and enlarging the town's roads, overrunning the citizens' homes in order to "accommodate" land grabbing. Proper legal procedures are not being taken into consideration, and tenants aren't to have basic rights respected, neither are they entitled to a fair compensation for damages.
Most of the victims of this removal are elders, and tenants have reported deaths due to heart attacks, as well as aggravation of health conditions as results of the stress caused by the actions perpetrated by the city administration.
We took this case at the end of 2017. Since then, we have offered legal assistance and held meetings regularly within the community.
Comunidade do Sancho (2016)
From April to July of 2016, CPDH assisted citizens who live near Complexo Prisional do Curado, located in the neighborhood of Sancho (west side of Recife), in their resistance. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued a Provisional Measure (a type of interim injunction) against the federal government and the State of Pernambuco due to the inhuman conditions of the inmates. The state's Public Ministry suggested that the prison, which is made up of three contiguous correctional facilities, be shut down. The government of Pernambuco, on the other hand, is looking forward to expanding the built-up area of the penitentiary. Challenged by the Justice and Human Rights office, which is in charge of the prison system, the government issued a decree (no. 42.862) on the 6th of April, 2016 that authorized a broad expropriation within the community, which should affect at least 52 homes. The community organized several protests, received support from many movements and social organizations, set up meetings with Pernambuco's Secretaria da Casa Civil, and, in July, the decree was finally revoked by the governor.
Vila Imperial (2014)
Vila Imperial is located on public land and was occupied by about 400 families in 2014. After the occupation, a neighbor company declared ownership of the land and tried to force families to evict using a repossession order. The initial order was denied and we remain working on the case, which hasn't gone to court for a final decision. In addition, whenever is possible, we mediate training and take part in mobilizations within the community.
Comunidade Moscowzinho (2014)
Located in the Candeias neighborhood, in Jaboatão dos Guararapes/PE, Moscowzinho is made up of 25 families with low income, and came about 50 years ago as a fishing village 400 meters away from the seashore. Residents had their tenure secured for several years. With time, they watched a city take form around them, while they stood tall, investing in infrastructure and building their own houses by themselves.
At the end of 2014, Jaboatão's city governance ordered the "voluntary demolition" of the houses. Should the families refuse to follow through, the public power would not only do the demolition but would make tenants pay for it. Their argument was that the community was blocking a street - which, to begin with, was built a long time after the community was established.
Under these circumstances, we were called by the community and filed a complaint in Secretaria Executiva de Controle Urbano e Ambiental (a town office that deals with issues related to urban planning and the environment). This led to a meeting with representatives from the City Hall, who agreed not to put forward any demolition without a proper court order. Months later, however, tenants received a new notice of voluntary demolition, which was not explained by the City Hall.
Hence, we filed an appeal to the Public Ministry so that it demanded that the City Hall answer for illegal orders of voluntary demolition and, instead, begin to provide assistance for the families, securing their constitutional right of housing and keeping blatantly illegal removals and demolitions at bay.
As of today (2018), we still hold periodic meetings in the community in order to assist the case and offer training in legal empowerment.
Conjunto Muribeca (2014)
Located in Jaboatão dos Guararapes, Conjunto Muribeca is one of the many popular compounds built in the 80's through social program COHAB, created by the federal government of the time and financed by Banco Nacional de Habitação (BNH - National Housing Bank). It consists of 69 buildings, each of them with 32 small, even and standardized apartments.
At the beginning of the 2000s, a crack in one of the buildings triggered a stir in the lives of tenants. A court order determined that all the buildings be interdicted, which meant that thousands of people would be removed from their homes. Currently, Caixa Econômica Federal (former BNH) is supposed to fix damages. The process is now under provisional execution, and it seems that the final solution will be to actually tear down the buildings and offer tenants monetary compensation.
The thing is, the buildings aren't the same from the time they were built. Hundreds of tenants built houses in the units' hollow spaces, creating a sort of extension of the apartments. Most of these houses were built by the young generation that grew up in the buildings and started families this way. Some of the occupations are also businesses that belong to residents of the buildings.
As it happens, the court order did not consider these constructions, be they of residential or commercial nature. Besides, the process of reconstruction has already caused the demolition of some of the neighbor houses, and others are at risk of demolition, which is affecting hundreds of families. This is all because the company that was hired to demolish the buildings claims to need a safety margin of 6 meters, which threatens about 384 homes.
We started to assist the community in 2014, when we were called by "Somos Todos Muribeca", one of the local movements that emerged from the conflict. As follows, our efforts were primarily towards finding legal and political ways for the situation of those people - and that of other tenants from the houses next to the buildings - were recognized by the courts.
This way, we began assisting the community and the movement in Residents' Assemblies, public hearings in the Federal Public Ministry, articulations with public defenders (Defensoria Pública da União), as well as in hearings and articulations in the House of Representatives and in Jaboatão's City Hall.
After a lot of pressure and with tremendous support from Defensoria Pública da União, the city administration decided to donate a piece of land, and Caixa Econômica Federal will finance the construction of Conjunto Habitacional Muribeca 5, which will include the families that any closer than 6 meters to the buildings that are to be demolished. The community, however, is well aware of inconsistencies in the counting made by the City Hall and is taking action so that all families are endowed.
Comunidade do Coque (2013)
We have assisted tenants from Coque since 2013. The community is located downtown Recife and deals with attempts of removals, expropriation and public constructions. None of the cases were actually taken to court, so our work was more towards mobilizations and intense articulations with the Public Ministry, and also negotiations with the City Hall and the state government.
As of the first case we took, in 2013, the state government was planning to widen the lanes that surround the community, which would affect 58 houses of families that have lived there for decades.
Our actions towards mobilizing the community and their allies, in addition to the mediations with the public power, lead to the cancellation of the construction and the consequent evictions that were foreseen by Secretaria Executiva de Desapropriações, a branch of the state of Pernambuco's Prosecution Service (Procuradoria Geral do Estado).
In order to tell a little bit of this story, as well as the stories of families that were actually evicted due to constructions for the 2014 World Cup, in 2014-2015 we offered a course entitled “Re-existencia de Direitos no Coque” (Re-existence of Rights in Coque), which resulted in film “Sítio do Cajueiro: Lembrar é (R)existir!” (http://projetonarramundo.wixsite.com/narramundo).
We also took to the Public Ministry the case of 15 families that were removed due to a construction intended to improve the Ibiporã channel. These families were emotionally tied to the comuunity and wished to remain there, so they claimed units in a housing compound, once the monetary compensation offered by the City Hall (around R$ 4.000,00) wasn't enough for them to afford a house in the area.
Casarão da Tamarineira (2012)
Casarão da Tamarineira is a property that has been occupied by 21 families (about 70 people) for over 20 years. The families are fiercely resisting against land grabbing in one of Recife's rich neighborhoods. Over the past 6 years, the families that live in the house have overcome 4 attempts of eviction, from a repossession order on the behalf of the property's former owners, who abandoned it over 25 years ago, and attempts of interdiction by the city administration.
We have assisted the families since 2012 by offering popular education and taking part in meetings and mobilizations, as well as by trying to secure their title to the property through acquisitive prescription and defending them from having the house cleared. The cause motivated the creation of a group called Rede Amigxs do Casarão, which resulted in a fundraise to enable an architecture project aimed at renovating the property and, in turn, help the families stand up for their right to housing.
Comunidade Bom Jesus (2012)
Located in the neighborhood of Boa Viagem, Comunidade Bom Jesus started being assisted by CPDH in 2012, when tenants became aware they might be forced to clear the area. The community was new but already quite populated. CPDH worked side by side with CLC - Coletivo de Luta Comunitária, and informed families about their right to housing. While tenants were mobilizing to avoid a possible eviction, they were caught by surprise when the military police showed up without further notice and forced them to dislocate. The order was given by Recife's City Hall and involved physical violence by the police.
CPDH was present in a protest organized by tenants, as well as in their occupation of the House of Representatives. Our job was to mediate the negotiation between the movement and the tenants and the public power, in order to guarantee they would receive housing aid and, for those who managed to stop their homes from being demolished, the right to remain in the properties. Although part of the community was dismantled in 2012, the occupation has stood its ground, and some of the families that fell victim to removal were able to rebuild their homes in the area. Be that as it may, even though the occupation is consolidated, it hasn't acquired title to land. CPDH has been keeping in touch with tenants to monitor possible risks of removal and to work on strategies to give them legal instruments to secure land tenure.