The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 28, 2014

Critics blast Rio's World Cup, Olympic evictions

(Continued)

Scared of being left homeless, the couple chose the apartment and were assigned a unit in a housing project in the distant suburb of Campo Grande. Inaugurated in 2011, the Condominio Oiti project, a grouping of beige four-story towers that now houses nearly 200 families originally hailing from slums throughout the city, is 35 miles (60 kilometers) from Rio de Janeiro's center, and prohibitively far from the upscale home where she works as a nanny.

"It's a nightmare," said Nascimento, whose weathered, lined face belies her 36 years, 16 of them spent in the Vila Recreio II slum. "There's nothing here, no work, no hospitals, no public transport, nothing. They forced us out of our houses and dropped us here in the middle of nowhere."

City officials have in the past acknowledged that some 15,000 families were resettled, but insist the moves were done to remove people from areas prone to deadly mudslides and had nothing do with the World Cup or Olympics. The office of Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes confirmed that in a statement, saying it "is not and will not carry out any resettlements" connected to the World Cup.

For coming Olympics preparations, however, city officials said they planned to resettle 278 families living on land that's part of the Olympic Village. Local organizers for the World Cup didn't respond to requests for comment, while Olympic organizers confirmed the removals near the Olympic village.

Amnesty International Brazil paints a different picture, saying 19,200 families in and round Rio have been pushed out of their homes since 2009. An advocacy group for affected slum residents called the Popular Committee for the World Cup and Olympics estimates that 100,000 have or will be moved.

Evictions and the Olympics have long gone hand-in-hand, and even the worst-case scenario for Rio involves far less than the 1 million believed to have been moved for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 or what some rights groups estimate were the 720,000 people displaced ahead of the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea.

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