By: Sabrina Duran and Fabrício Muriana
The Moinho shantytown has been the scene of a fierce dispute ever since São Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab (PSD) took office in 2006. That year, mayor José Serra (PSDB) abandoned the state government to run for governor. As soon as Kassab, Serra’s vice-mayor and political fellow traveler, took office in 2007, his first official act was to buy up land belonging to two private individuals. This purchase would automatically entail the expropriation of the community, whose residents would be forced to leave.
Since then, residents have lived in the shadow of a legal dispute that makes their permanence in the area less and less likely. The community they are fighting to keep is plagued by open-air sewage, a lack of running water and electricity, police violence and complete neglect by the authorities.
In 2011 and 2012, the last two years of the Kassab administration, Moinho suffered two major fires that together destroyed more than one-third of the shanties and left a trail of dead, injured and thousands of homeless.
Last year, when he was running for mayor, Fernando Haddad (PT) visited Moinho and promised its residents that if elected, he would resolve the land issue and urbanize the community. It was good news for those who wanted to stay. The promise was videotaped and shown on TVA as part of Haddad’s campaign publicity.
Once in office, however, Haddad continued the plan of his predecessor to eradicate the Moinho shantytown. In recent months, both the city and the state government have been making life very difficult for residents, with incursions by the military police and Civil Guard and the failure to realize a promise to construct basic sanitation in the area, not to mention the city government’s rent subsidy — an attempt to make moving away more attractive, underminding community ties and coopting local activism.
In a 2013 report by “Agência Pública” on Moinho, the press secretary of the city Secretary of Housing came right and said it: the Haddad administration means to erradicate the community.
The question: why is Haddad trying so hard to eliminate a shantytown that he had promised to urbanize and formalize title to? Why is he willing to bear the political and moral brunt of failing to keep a strategic campaign promise? What interests are behind his decision? What plans exist for the commuity that do not include the people who live there?
After more than two months of investigation, the Architecture of Gentrification managed to find some answers. Follow us now through a “timeline”-style report that tells the history of Moinho, the challenges the community has faced, and the question of who is interested in that patch of land which survey data shows is the neighborhood with the third largest rate of real estate valorization in the city, out of a list of 140. It presented the fasest growing value of real estate between 2008 e 2011: 182%.
Nearly three decades
Sandwiched between two CPTM lines in the heart of the city, Moinho is the last shantytown left in the downtown area. Its history began some 25 years ago with the occupation of a tract of land underneath the Murgel viaduct. The site was once a factory owned by the Matarazzo family, from which it took its name — moinho, or “mill”.
Before the major fires of 2011 and 2012, the community housed 1,200 families, or about 5,000 people. The current number, after the fire consumed the shanties, is4 80 families. Alessandra Moja, 29 anos, is a community leader and member of the Moinho Vivo movement, a local political organization for residents of the community and their partners. Having lived here for 18 , she is one of the senior residents among the current 1,900 inhabitants. And she serves our team as we report on the past and recent history of Moinho, together with Caio Castor, also a Moinho resident and member of the Comboio Project,to which Flávia Lobo also belongs. SInce 2012, Caio and Flávia have been developing an independent urban renewal and communication project for the community.
In 2007, an attempt was nadeto sell the area by the Kassab administration,with cash in escrow and a petition to take provisional possession of the land. This added an new element to the dispute. Originally, the land which Moinho occupies belonged to the Federal Railway Network. = In 1999, however, because of past-due property taxes, the land was put up for auction. At this time, the community had occupied the space for more than a decade. In the auction, businessman Ademir Donizetti Monteiro his company, Mottarone Serviços de Supervisão, Montagens e Comércio Ltda, won the rights to theland, but did not register it. In this way, the lands remained in the name of the Federal Railway Network, which went bankrupt not long after. Its assets and debts were reassumed by the federal union.
For its part, the federal union petitioned a court to annul the auction. The case has not yet been resolved. The suit was pronounced unfounded, but the Federal Railway Netwok is appealing. And so it is that the city government Monteiro e Mottarone, The federal Railway Network and the federal Union are all part of the dispute over Moinho.
Faced with the fragility of their status, residents decided to protect themselves legally as well. resolveram se proteger juridicamente também. In 2008, with the help of a lawyer from PUC, the Moinho Residential filed a collective usucaption case. The lawsuit, according to attorneys for the residents, guarantees the property rights of those who use a private tract of land for five years or more, as long as they have no other residence and their families are low-income.
In April of 2008, federal judge José Marcos Lunardelli issued a provisional rule securing the rights of ownership of residents until the lawsuit — which has not been calendared — is resolved. With that, residents may feel secure that they will be able to remain in Moinho without being threatened with eviction. Or perhaps not.
In 2011, Moinho survived a tragedy. On the morning December 22, a huge fire broke out in the old Matarazzo factory — some 450 families, or 1,800 persons, living in and around it. They were all left homeless. A third of the residences in the community were eliminated. At the time, the press reported on the death of two persons in the fire. Residents, however, believe the number was at least 30.
There are suspicions that the first was set deliberately. proposital. Photo: Political Pragmatism
Although the building is made of masonry, unlike the wooden shacks that occupy most of the area, the fire spread rapidly through the building. This is just one of the principal oddities that Alessandra Moja sees in the case: “Since when do bricks catch fire?’ she asked, noting again that the velocity and intensity of the flames cannot be explained by any spontaneous or natural cause.
Alleging that the fire undermined the structure of the building and that there was a risk it would collapse, Mayor Kassab decided to implode what was left of the structure. le. Immediately, in the same month of December, the city administation obtained a document guaranteeing it partial ownership of the tract of land.
Ten days after the fire, on January 1, 2012, a literal after 5:00 p.m. and at a cost of R$ 3.5 million, 800 kilos of dynamite installed in the building were detonated. detonados.
When the dust settled, local residents, journalists, gawkers and technicians who had worked on the operation,were surprised to see that the building remained almost completely upright. The 800 kilos of explosives, considered by many experts to be excessive in a case like this, were not enough to bring down the former site of the Moinho Matarazzo. In a press conference, Kassab explained the fiasco of the failed implosion, which he rated 10 out of 10. What remained standing — almost the entire building — was demolished later by bulldozers and back-hoes.
Kassab’s next step was to build a concrete wall 55 meters long … dividing the community in two and isolating residents from the area where shacks existed before the fire. Besdes preventing residents from reoccupying the area destroyed, construction blocked off an important escape route in the event of another fire. Hemmed in by two active railways and Kassab’s Berlin Wall, Moinho residents now rely on a single escape route, situated beneath the Murgel viadut where it opens onto Elias Chaves Street, shich fire trucks are unable to reach.
An inspection carried out by fire fighters in October 2012 indicates “the immdiate need to create an alternative escape route that will provide access operational access to fire trucks and other equipment.” The route suggested by the inspection document is Silva Pinto Street, which runs in part behind the wall built by Kassab.
A year after the publication of this report, the escape route has yet to be built, and the equipment of the Fire Prevention Program (Previn) is situated in precarious settlements created by Kassab in 2010, and has not been installed and distributed.
On September 17, 2012, another fire swept the Moinho settlement, destroying 80 shacks, killing one person and leaving 300 homeless. A total of 810 families who were left without housing in the first and second fires, were registered by the city in a program that pays a rent subsidy of R$ 450 per family. Using this cash grant, the homeless of Moinho have had to move to precarious dwellings — shantytowns and high-rise cortiços, far from the city center. But the sum is insufficient, and contant delays in payment of the rent subsidy caused many to be evicted from their homes. Some of them returned toMoinho. Haddad has not only inherited Kassab’s delays but has perpetuated them.
Haddad and his promise to urbanize and formalize Moinho
Viewed as a possible counterpoint to Kassab and his exclusive housing policies, Haddad began his 2012 campaign focusing on residents of the last slum in the downtown of the richest city in South America, ignored for years by authorities. Ina visit to Moinho, the candidate entered the home of Zeza, a local resident, and recorded a video that was used in his political marketing. To Zeza and all the inhabitants of Moinho, Haddad promised to bring sanitation and formal property rights to the area.
You can watch the video here.
First Major Demonstration in the Community
nThe promise was made but not carried out until the mayor’s tenth month in office. On July 5, 2013, Moinho residents organized their first collective demonstration calling on Haddad to honor his promise, which was written and signed. During a march through the downtown streets, they proceeded from the slum to city hall, where a negotiating committee awaited them. City official had already learned of the protest from the community’s Facebook page and the press, and had prepared a response.
Resident leaders were received by the municipal secretary of housing, José Floriano, and the secretary of governmental relations. In an openg offer, Floriano promised “an apartment woth R$ 150,000” outside Moinho and indemnificaion of local residents.
Tearing down Kassab’s wall and the construction of an escape route, the installation of water, electricity, sewage treament and garbage collection and the execution of the Previn fire protection plan, among others, were the fundamental demands of community leaders and the public administration. Community leaders cited the 2012 report by firefighters recommending the creation of an escape route. They also pointed out that based on the same document, Judge juiz Domingos de Siqueira Frascino, in a ruling dated March 13, 2013, that the city had one month to construct the escape route.
At the meeting, it was decided, at the request of residents, that the secretary of housing (Sehab) would invite all of the city agenices responsible for meeting these demands on July 11 . Immediately following the meeting, aides to Mayor Haddad called Alessandra Moja, a Moinho community leader, and schedled a meeting with the mayor for July 12, at city hall.
On July 11, as agreed, José Floriano, subprefect of the Sé Marcos Barreto district , assistant secretary of Governmental Relations José Pivato and a commission comprising Civil Defense and the Fire Brigade, vistited Moinho. The point of the visit, according to the public agents, was to visually inspect the claims made in the meeting at city hall and to find means to address them. Secretary José Floriano told the local residents on hand that it would take until August 10 to set a date for the work to begin.
In the meeting with Haddad on the following day, residents reiterated their basic demands and presented the fire brigade’s report on the need for an escape route. At that event, the mayor seemed to understand the urgency of the matter and promised to tear down the wall on July 15, three days later. Haddad also committed himself to the creation of a working group comprising civil servants and community leadership. The grou would hold frequent meetings to discuss progress toward improving the community.
The mayor also promised to allow residents of the ZEIS — Special Zone in the Public Interest) to which Moinho belongs to remain in their homes. Moinho is registered as ZEIS 3 — C009 (SE). ZEIS ones have fixed perimeters and are destined for urbanization, formalization of land claims and the construction of housing in the public interests, and are governed by specific legislation (Decree 44.667/2004). With this promise, Haddad discarded the possibility of maintaining the offer made by Kassab to transport Moinho residents to a permanente housing projct near the Remédios Bridge, in the Western Zone of the city.
The meeting with the mayor was recorded on video by representatives of the shantytown.
When the promised day arrived for the removal of the wall, no one showed up to to do the work. Residents said that the only visitor was a lone group of Sabesp employees who were there to determine the number of brickwork and wooden structures, in order to install meters. On July 16 , firemen visited Moinho, walked around the area and refused to speak with any community members before leaving the scene.
On July 20, the first meeting was held between residents and public managers. The meeting took place downtown, at the City Housing Secretariat. Along with community leaders, the city was the chief of stqff of the of the Subprecture of da Sé, Maurício Dantas (currently an interim vice-mayor). Residents say that little progres was made at this first meeting. Contrary to the community’s request, no representives of Sehab of the municipal urban development secretariat, headed by Fernando de Mello Franco.
After a delay of two weeks after the date set by the mayor to tear down the wall that divides the community, Moinho decided to realize the escape route themselves. On July 30 the slow work of tearing down a structure 4 meters wide and built with concrete rebar. This was the only part that could be demolished, because the remaining 55 meters of wall now serve as sites for new residences, built after the 2011 fire.
On August 2, a Friday, around 6:00 a.m, community leader Alessandra Moja receved a curious call to her cell phone: It was João Antonio, secretary of Governmental Relations, saying that Moinho residents should leave the area becuase “the prosecutors are on to us”. “There is no sense in taking on the world so that you can remain there,” the secretary said.
Caio Castor posted details of the phone call on the Moinho Facebook page. “He called Alessandra (?) on her cell and basically said that we would not be able to remain in the area and that they had decided two and a half years ago to remove us to Rua do Bosque, downtown [“a tract of land the city government has said,since the prior administration,that will be developed definitive housing for the population of Moinho. Work has not begun, however.” no entanto, ainda não foram iniciadas]”. In Castor’s view, the secretary’s “warning call” became known with the beginning of the tearing down of the wall a few days prior, announced via social network.
On August 4, a Sunda, the second protest in favor of Moinho was held. In this case, the protests took place inside the shantytown itself. Musicians from the community performed and the officical opening of the way was carried out with sledgehammers and jackhammers wielded by the residents themselves.
The military police (PM) showed up in the afternoon in an attempt to prevent the destruction of the structure, but was obliged to retreat. The PMs were informed by community leaders about the judicial ruling authorizing the opening of the escape route and the right of residents to remain under the doctrine of usucaption, conceded by federal judge José Marcos Lunardelli in 2008.
On August 5, 2013, the second meeting of the mixed working group took place to discuss the urbanization of the shantytown. This time, the meeting was held in the community itself. In light of the tearing down of a section of the wall a few days prior, the authorities did not conceal an attitude of reproach The presented residents with a proposal from City Hall. Among the items of this proposal were some of the demands already voiced by the community, and there was a new element: the city government asked persons no reoccupy the free zone where the first major fire occurred. Dissatisfied with these proposal, leaders committed themselves to drafting a counterproposal to be present a week later, during the third meeting of the working group.
The Silence of the Public Sector
On August 8, a public works company hired by City Hall constructed the escape route, which consisted in hauling off part of the rubble from the demolished Matarazzo building and the vegetation that accumlated over nearly two years of neglect. The clean-up was restricted to the creation of a modest lane free of trash and vegetation that continue to block the passage of residents despite the partial destruction on the wall.
Scheduled for August 12, in Moinho, the third meeting of the working group was not held. Public authorities did not arrive at the community at the scheduled hour and left the community waiting.
Since then … the working group has held no more meetings, even though residents expect the city authorities every Monday, at 3:00 p.m. in the community’s public space, the Casa Pública. Community leaders believe that the refusal of the autorities to talks comes as a reprisal for the rejection of the city government’s proposals by residents, and the insistence of residents that they will occupy a tract of land previously cut off by the wall. “Their major concern is to guarantee that the land not be reoccupied. In all of our meetings, we constantly repeared that we would occupy the space in an orderly fashion, The chief concern of authorities with whom we met was the exaggerated threat of this happening. This is evidence of how much more this administation is concerned with removing people than it is to guarantee security and human rights,’ saysFlávia Lobo, a member of the Moinho Vivo movement.
Reoccupation of Land
With the construction of the escape route, on August 23 mounted a third manifestation in favor of the shantytwon with a symbolic reoccupation of the land where the 2011 fire took place. They weeded the grass, cleaned house, carted away rubble and ashes. During the reoccupation produce, they installed a wooden structure that will serve as the headquarters of the resident association. This reclaiming of the tract of lane has been the subject of conversations for some time now in the context of Project Comboio and local residents. The proposal is that the reoccupation of the area, notyet begun, will be constructed in an organized manner that will enable sewage and electricity projects to move forward, as Haddad promised. A technical report by the fire brigade in 2012 argues that in order to realize improvements, it will be necessary to “undensify” certain area. The space opened up by residents of the old tract will be essential in making room for new shacks of those who have had to leave their homes during public works.
Police Raids Increase
Since the beginning of Moinho’s campaign to hold Haddad accountable for honoring his promise, the PM and the Metropolitan Civil Guard have intensified their incursions in the community, with weapons drawn and an intimidating demeanor, residens say. Furthermore, since the wall came down on August 4, community members of the working group cannot even reliably contact their civil servant counterparts, by phone or by e-mail.
On September 10, 2013, the PM invaded Moinho once again. As it happened, an assembly of residents was being held, with the presenceof the city housing department and the housing and urban development, Maurício Ribeiro Lopes. The meeting was interrupted by a resident who warned that the PM was A assembleia foi interrompida por um morador que avisou que a PM estava “brutalizing” a the community. Lopes was urged by those present to intervene withthe police. Accompanied by dozens of residents, the prosecutor went to the shack where the police were to be found, supposedly hunting a drug trafficker. After a brief conversations, the PMs left the area “escorted” by Lopes and amid cries of “Get Out!” from residents. In the video that follows, the prosecutor is overheard explaining what had happened to an aide to the secretary of public safety Eduardo Grella. As to the meeting on October 10, we will have more to say below … Make It or Break It
The PPP, the CPTM and the state secretaries. On April 29, 2013, the PR office of the municipal housing secretary (SEHAB) told reporter Luciano Onça of the “Agência Pública” project that Moinho will be demolished and its residents accomodated in formal housing units. This information runs contrary to the promise made by Haddad in 2012, to settle the issue of land ownership and urbanize the area.
Based on this official declaration, the NGO Architeture of Gentrificação began to investigate what concrete plans the city government has for the land. The sudden silence of the city administration in the face of community demands after the destruction of the wall the police and the telephone call from João Antonio to Alessandra permit use to suppose that Haddad really was inclined to break his campaign promise.
We had three lines of investigation before: First the ties between the housing secretary; second, the telephone call to Allesandra urging her to assist in removing residents from the community,and finally the public-private partnership between the state, the city and public works contractors to build 20,000 low-income housing units in the center of the city In official documents, the Moinho area is located on the perimeter of the project, known as the PPP of Dowtown Housing and providing for the appropriation of more than 900 downtown residences for the construction of the habitational units.
And finaly, we have a video tape of CPTM and posted in 2012 detailing the burial of th 12 km of rais along the Lapa-Brás line, and the construction, atop this underground structure, of avenues, streets, parks and buildings. Moinho appears in the video when the current railway system is shown. A 3D projection of what future projects will look like when is followed by the disappearance of the community from the story. Instead, the story moves on to the Campos Elíseos line of the CPTM.
The railroad tracks represent an obstacle to the real estate market because they isolate that area of the city, making transpositions difficult and subracting linear space from potential building projects. Moinho is also a problem for the construction companies, since slums tend to undermine the prices of their surroundings
The project for the burial of tracks was provided for in the Urban Consortium Lapa-Brás in 2011. The project was never begin because none of the bidders on the project met the minimum requirements.
A press representative of the CPTM confirmed to this reporter that the company “is developing a functioning project for the new station in downtown São Paulo.” The completio of the study, expected later this year, will identify the best site for the construction of this new station and its access points,including a complementary project of urban inclusion The building of this station will also depend on reaching an understanding with other organizations with whom we will negotiated the area where the Moinho is located.
“The new station,” the PR person. wil “play a role in improving the distribution of demand on current rail lines, expediting the transfer from the CPTM trains at Luz Station.” The name of the new station, we were told via the header of a return e-mail will be Bom Retiro, and not Campos Elíseos, as reported in a 2012 video promo by the comany.
On August 31 of this year, the daiy”Folha de S. Paulo” announced the cretion of a new train station in the historic center of the city. In the article, the new station was cited only once, by the state secretary of metropolitan transport, Jurandir Fernandes, as the Campos Elíseos Sation, to be built across from the Luz train station. The name provided by the secretary is not the same name received by e-mail from the CPTM press office. Similarly, the location of each diverge somewhat :the Bom Retiro, it seems, is to be adjacent to Moinho,while Campos Elíseos will be built in Luz, two km from Moino..
Despite these disparties and the question of location, the plans for the new CPTm line are clear enough and has a good chance of imposing de its will, given the magnitude of public works of this kind carried out in São Paulo.
Hide and Seek in the PPP
In order to discover whether the CPTM project and the PPP of Housing conflict or complement one another, we contacted the state housing secretary. In an e-mail, the state agency Sehab that “we do not expect, your PPP to qualify for housing projects downown, with direct involvement of the Moinho community. This is because the municipal housing authority has its own plans for the area .
This statement from the state Sehab contradicts what is written in the announcement calling on Casa Paulista, a state agency that is coordinating the PPP. PPP. In the document, Moinho is mention in Sector A of the six lots scheduled for an urban renewal projects.. Based on the information we received, we asked the press secretary of the city housing secretary for an interview with José Floriano. We were turned down, on the pretext that Floriano had no time to spare for us. They asked us to send our questions by e-mail, which we immediately did. The main issue was what plans the city Sehab had for Moinho.
At the same time as we were contacting the state secretary we contacted the press secretaryof the Municipal Governmental Relations Secretary to try to glean informaton about the telephone call Alessandra Moja received from secretary Antonio da Silva Filho para Alessandra Moja, on August 2.
We had various questions about the incident: Whattype of presssure did he allege he was suffering from the Publlic Ministry (prosecutor)? Why did this public offcial stop attending working groups meetings in Moinho since August 12?Por que o poder público deixou de comparecer às reuniões com o grupo de trabalho na favela desde 12 de agosto? Why dispace the residents of Moinho if the promise by Mayor Haddad was exactly the opposite? The personal interview with the secretary was again enied by a secretary who kept his day book. Once again, we communicated by e-mail,
On August 20 de agosto, the press secretary of João Antonio sent us an official note saying, among other things ,that “confronted with the process of negotiation of the city administration with the representatives of Moinho, the municipal secretary of government relatoins (SMRG) and housing (SEHAB) stated that the local authorities will fulfill their role of keeping a line of communication permanently open with local leaders, from elected leaders, both elected and self-organized, to be held at the seat of government or in the community itself, as it had done on many prior occasion, accompanied by experts in housing, governmental relations and the Prefecture of Sé.”
The note was signed by João Antonio and the city housing secretary at thetime, José Floriano. None of the five detailed questions sent by e-mail received a response. By telephone, we were able to reach Djair Galvão, spokesperson for the city governmental relations secretary, to ask him the same questions. The PR man continued to respond vaguely to our objective questios, saying that the issue was “delicate” and that the secretary of housing would be more likely to have information on potential plans.
Again by telephone, we contacted the press secretary of Sehab. de imprensa da Sehab municipal. Contradicting his colleague Djair Galvão, PR man Nivaldo Carboni said that Segr was responsible for such information and that the secretary he works for has no concrete plans for Moinho. Confronted with contradictory statements from the state Sehab, Carboni was irritated: “I already told you, there is no point in you trying to corral me, I have no knowledge of tjis — Sehab’s plans for Moinho Finally, questioned about a note issued by his office on April 29, 2013, saying that Moinho would be erradicated, Nivaldo Carboni said this information wasnot true, but that at the same time, “no one was calling anybody else a liarl
Mapping and Clarity
There is nothing odd about the pushing and elbowing of one minister by another when it comes to the PPP of Downtown Housing and the plans for the Moinho neighborhood in the context of this project. Announced by the state government in April 2012, the PPP was never adequately explained to society during its elaboration. The Urbem Institute http://urbem.org.br/main.htmlhttp://urbem.org.br/main.html, winner of the auction to develop the project,conclude its work in October 2012. More than a year later, the full tenor of these documents have yet to be presented to the population.
In June of 2013, Governor Geraldo Alckmin signed a decree expropriating 900 propertiesin the dowtown area to be used to build housing under the PPP. In theory, these properties were vacated or underutilized. They were examples of “urban emptiness”, said Milton Braga, one of the Urbem architects who developed the project.
It was not long, however, before the dozens of former owners affected by the decree, went pubic with their complaint that they were being dislodged from homes and businesses with years of history behind them. In the face of such misunderstandings and obscure claims, prosecutorMaurício Ribeiro Lopes of the Public Ministry’s Housing and Urban Development office decided to intervene. With an injunction granted on August 23, he was able to temporarily suspend the PPP. In an unexpected development, however, the magistrate Xavier de Aquino, who had suspended the program, changed his mind and revoked his own injunction on October 16, ending the embargo on the PPP. The law suit continues working its way through the legal system and awaits the vote of two other senior justices.
Though the three secretaries consulted for this article managed to to avoid objective answers on PPP and Moinho, a map of the properties expropriated preparedb by an independent source, illustrated the potential plans the public authorities have for the shantytown, With a list of more than 900 addresses contemplatedin the decree, and using Google Maps, bioloistCláudia Roedel, who edits the [“Thrown Out By Alckmin”] on Facebook and a member of the the Awake, Brazil Association, created to lend support to residents affeccted by the PPP, has been marking on a virtual map each residences that will be expropriated. The mapping project is still underway, but what Claudia has learned so far reveal much about the plans by Alckmin and Haddad for the region where Moinho once stood.
On the map, the Moinho shantytown is surrounded by properties that will give way to new, “requalified” housing units proposed by the state government
There, in the middle ofwhere the CPTM TV spot from 2012 showed a train station, where CPTM PR pointed to the creation of a station, and where the city housing secretary suggests a train station be built, it is be built on a party of Moinho In a R$ 4.6 billion public works project like the PPP of Housing, which provides for the urban “requalification” of the downtown area to house families earning up to 15 minimum salaries (more than R$ 16,000 a month) and who have the state and city governments signing contracts with the major public works contractors, it is obvous that shacks are not a desirable part of the lanscape.
Moinho is marked for erasuefrom the map.
It’s either run away or stay and fight.. Fight and Flight
As time passes and conflicts over the execution of the PPP and the new train station at Luz, it is more and more important to remove the residents of Moinho. Now, the municipal government has begun using antherr artifice to accelerate the destruction of Moinho. Unexpectedly, and without consulting the community–, Maria José Calderine, of the municipal Sehom scheduled a general assembly in Moinho for September 10. The bureaucrat limited herself to advising us, with a phone call,toof the Model Office at PUC, which provides rresidents with legal advice, and asked if they knew the of the general assembly The Model Office passed the information on to the community, which was surprised by the news.
On the date sset, residents met at a freshly-sodded lawn in the back streets of the community, where the first major fire began. A microphone and amplifier had been set up so that Maria José could speak. Accompanied by a Sehab official was the same prosecutor for Housing and Urban Development, Maurício Ribeiro Lopes, who had managed to get an injunction temporarily suspending the PPP.
The most important topic at the meeting was the rent subsidy, which is not paid to former Moinho residents who lost their homes in the fires and are forced to rent a shack in a distance neighborhood. The principal topic was the rent subsidy that Sehab was inclined to pay in exchange for residents to leave Moinho. Accepting this subsidy, Maria José explained, the resident would have to move to another community and his shack would be immediately destroyed in order to forestall occupation by another squatter.
This is not a new tactic, say housing activists: The authorities ignore their duty to resolve the problems by providing basic sanitation, making life even more difficult those who remains. Next come the police raids, the threats of eviction, and the silence of the government about the future of the community. Then the rent subsidy is offered, to help residents find a better place to live in some other area, with the promise that a formal dwelling will be delivered in the near future. When this new housing will be handed over, no one can say.
The weariness, the insecurity and the fear of eviction have convinced some residents to accept the subsidy, in order to pay rent in a shantytown or high-rise slum — a cortiço — far from Moinho. As the community empties out, its will to resist is undermined and the appropriation of the space by the authorities is easier.
The tactics of Haddad government, which culminated in the rent subsidy offered by Sehab, is the same used by Gilberto Kassab during his administration to appropriate the land where Moinho stands.
A few days before the unexpected visit of Maria José Calderine to the neighborhood, Caio Castor had narrated what the same Sehab had done to residents in 2012, tryiing to drive them from the land using what were called “non-violent means.”
As this report was being prepared, in September, the city government of São Paulo launched an official hotsite for the Arco Tietê program, a key part of the huge urban renewal project known as the Arc of the Future, a key them for the candidate Fernando Haddad in 2012.
The objective of Arco Tietê is to create various nuclei distributed along the banks of the Tietê River, generating employment, amplifying roadways and streets and in this way bringing housing, work and transport to residents of the region. The project involves at least 22 neighborhoods measuring at least 5 million square meters, and is scheduled to take place over a period of 30 years and at a cost of “tens of billions of reais,” according to city urban development secretary Fernando de Mello Franco.
And Moinho stands in the way of Fernando Haddad and his arc. According to the viability proposal for the Arco Tietê as presented on the city hotsite, which serves as a guideline to works contractors, two significant interventions are planned for the Moinho land: the construction of underground rails and the creation of a public apparatus that will serve as an [“inductor project”]. “In the statute of the city, the term “inductor” was used to force urban property to live up to its social function,” says architect and urban planner Luciana Itikawa, of the Gaspar Garcia Human Rights Center. Luciana says it is important, however, to distinguish the Inductors of Urban Development in the city charter from “inductor projects” “inductor public works.”
“‘Inductor Instrument” is a technical term, but in this case, the informal usages — “projects” and “public works” — are being used in the Arco Tietê as anchors inserted into widespread projects to change the use and occupation of land, and appears not to have the same connotation of “correction,” as in the progresive property tax proposal or the PEUCs — compulsory division into installments, edification or usage — which theoretically were conceived to force the use of vacant lots that have gone undeveloped for the purposes of speculation,” Luciana explains.
An “induction project”, in this case a possible train state station where Moinho now stands is a public utility that will reconfigure the entire river bank and, above all, will densify the surrounding area, according to the rules of the Strategic Master Plan, which provides for the empower of land use in areas with access to public transport. As we see from the way from the way the Arco Tietê is being treated, the “induction project” could have a contrary result, the urban planner says. Instead of guaranteeing the democratization of the right to the city, it could lead to skyrocketing real estate prices in the surrounding areas and drive away low-income residents. “It is not clear whether families that would be removed to make way for the train station and the rising price of real estate in the adjoining areas will be taken care of by social housing projects in the area,” says Luciana Itikawa.
Like the PPP of Housing and the project to build a new CPTM project, current residents of Moinho have not been consulted about their needs and plans by the authorities responsible for the Arco Tietê.
A New Report, A New Wager
Finally, the most recent threat to the existence of the Moinho community: A new technical report by the Fire Brigade, issued on August 1, 2013, recommends the removal of all residents for the sake of public safety. The document was stumbled upon by local residents, who received it from a CPTM employee. In contacts with city hall after the date of its issuance, the Haddad administration said it is not yet ready.
Despite the year separating the two fire brigade reports, the two are very similar in the their contents, both calling for the construction of an escape route. In the report produced this year, however, in the last of its 30 lines, the phrase has been added: “With respect to fire safety the solution is the immediate relocation of those living in the area.”
At the July 12 meeting with the mayor, Haddad made a comment that sounds different in the light of the fire brigade report: “This area, if it is not urbanized for technical and legal reasons, will not be of use to private owners.”
Minutes later, Sehab’s José Floriano insisted on the need for a new evaluation by the fire brigade, even though it had already completed its report, and said: “Could it not be the wall they are trying to bring down? Could it not be the other side? We do what they tell us we ought to do.”
A day before this meeting with the mayor, Floriano himself, on a visit to Moinho, had “informed everyone beforehand” that it would only be possible to start work on improvements on August 10 — the same month as the fire brigade report.
With the possibility that urbanization might not be possible for technical reasons — the new fire brigade report, in this case — and with the CPTM clearly interested in the site as a future train station, and finally with the growing price of land from the PPP and Arco Tietê in adjoining areas, it seems as though the scenario to put an end to the city’s last downtown shantytown seems ready to go.
Though it is the focus of this dispute, Moinho is in fact the object of a consensus: the consensus of the private interests that draw the attention of the state and city governments, the CPTM and the real estate markets in our direction. For all intents and purposes, Moinho is what makes the public policies of Haddad no different from those of Alckmin, in that both treat the community as a barrier to progress to be eradicated from the heart of the wealthiest city in Latin America.
We tried to interview the governor and mayor about the case. The press office of Alckmin said the governor’s official position is the same as that of the state Sehab and the CPTM. Fernando Haddad’s spokesperson had not replied before this article was published.
For a timeline of the battle of the Tietê, see The Kassab Era, a clipping from which appears below.
Legal actions were not taken, and the City even hired militiamen to threaten the families …
… the work was marred by suspicions of overbilling and irregularities in the auction ….
And part of the project was awarded to the infamous Delta, with its ties to the bicho banker Charlie Waterfall … According to the Architecture of Gentrification report, the city’s dealings with Delta “multiplied” during the Kassab administration.
Not surprising, perhaps. On taking office, Kassab — who lists his civil occupation as engineer and real estate broker — had immediately placed his brothers in key posts at CPTM and the Metrô …
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