The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 28, 2014

Critics blast Rio's World Cup, Olympic evictions

— RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — With her family of six living in five different houses scattered across the city, Dalvaneide Pequeno do Nascimento longs for the days when her whole clan shared the same roof.

Nascimento, her husband and children were among the more than 230 families forced out of their homes in Vila Recreio II, a Rio de Janeiro slum that was razed three years ago to make way for the Transoeste expressway connecting the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood that'll be the main hub for the 2016 Olympics with the western outskirts of Rio.

It's just one of a slew of urban renewal efforts launched ahead of this year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, works igniting a sweeping transformation of Rio after decades of neglect since Brazil's capital was moved to Brasilia in 1960. Officials are using the events as catalysts for expanded metro lines, roads, airport renovations and other works. Critics say poor residents such as Nascimento are paying the price and estimate some 100,000 people have been evicted or face removals to make way for the projects.

"The city has become the object of the big business, the big interests behind the mega-events," said Marcelo Chalreo, who heads the human rights commission of the Rio chapter of Brazil's bar association. "In the name of the (sporting) events, now everything has to be pretty and nice looking."

Nascimento said city officials presented her and her husband, bricklayer Jucelio de Souza, with a simple choice: Accept a lump-sum compensation for their house, be given an apartment in a distant housing project or walk away with nothing. With Rio's real estate market among the hottest in the Americas and even homes in many slums fetching upward of $50,000, the city's compensation offer of just over $2,300 was grossly inadequate, Nascimento said.

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