Conflict in the Horto, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Greener or richer? Resistance to "green gentrification" in the low-income neighborhood closed to the upper middle class area of the hill sides of the Serra da Carioca

Jardim Botanico is a middle to high class neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, where luxurious houses have been constructed on the hill sides of the Serra da Carioca. The main Brazilian TV broadcaster and channel, Rede Globo, who also owns the main newspaper in Rio, O Globo, has its headquarters and other offices in the neighborhood. In this neighborhood there is also an area known as Horto, where low income and old working class houses are located. The hundreds of families living in the Horto are under constant threats of eviction due to conflict, which has been going on for decades, concerning land ownership with the Botanical Garden. The Garden is one of Rio de Janeiro's main touristic parks and is part of the Botanical Garden's Research Institute, which is responsible for classifying Brazilian flora, besides carrying out other important kinds of research. The park authority alleges that it has been "invaded" by low income households and wants to recover the Horto area in order to expand its visiting and research facilities. However, some of the houses located in the area under dispute are more than a century old and used to be part of workers' villages built by the park's employees themselves. Some of the residents still have the document authorizing them to build their houses there. These residents are being accused of acting against the environment in the region. The residents, in the other hand, argue that by occupying that region, they have prevented that big construction projects be located close to the park, which would be highly prejudicial to the environment. In the same area, however, there is also an electric energy plant and a public company's headquarters, which have not been targeted with removal. Trying to stop the legal recognition of the houses at Horto, the Botanic Garden and one of the neighborhood's residents association went against a draft bill that intended to implement proper urbanization and environmental management in the Horto region. Simultaneously, however, enormous luxurious houses are being built in the park's surroundings, in green areas, without any opposition from the groups that demand the eviction of the houses at the Horto area. On Aug. 10, with the Olympic Games underway, a Brazilian federal court ruled that the tract of land where Horto lies would be transferred over to Rio's Jardim Botânico.
Basic Data
NameConflict in the Horto, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
ProvinceRio de Janeiro
SiteRio de Janeiro
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Tourism Recreation
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
The total area of the Botanic Garden as defined recently in court would be of 1.3 million square meters, including the area under dispute.
See more...
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population550 families
Start Date1980
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Land dispossession
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesA bill was proposed to implement proper urbanization and environmental management in the Horto so that the families could stay there, but the Botanic Garden and the residents' association of the Jardim Botânico neighborhood opposed it. The bill was formulated by the local legislative chamber of the city of Rio de Janeiro with support from the Urbanism and Architecture Institute of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The last court decision was in favor of eviction and of returning the area known as Horto to the park.
Sources and Materials

The Megazine Carta Capital interviews the Botanic Garden's President
[click to view]

Newspaper O Globo about the Horto
[click to view]

Media Links

Residents Association of the Horto
[click to view]

The Horto Museum
[click to view]

Facebook Group called "SOS Horto Residents"
[click to view]

Horto Residents Comission
[click to view]

Other Documents

Memories of SOS Horto resistance SOS Horto Facebook Page
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorThiago Castanho and Alice Kasznar
Last update19/09/2016