Historical Context. More than 2000 families living in Vila Nazaré (Porto Alegre, Brazil) are at risk to be evicted because of the expansion of a runway to park wide-body planes .
Within this context, the Houseless Workers’ Movement and Friends of the Earth Brazil have supported Vila Nazare’s struggle. In 2018, these organizations began to support the resistance led by ‘Vila Nazare's Housing Association (AMOVIM)’, formed by the 2000 families that were about to be evicted.
However, in our research, we came to learn the crude reality. In 2012, the Rio Grande do Sul State government had compensated the owners of the property titles registered in the ‘Land Registry’ but who do not legitimately own the land where thousands had constructed their homes, raised their families and who own the land because of being living there for more than 50 years .
In January 2018, the German private airport operator Fraport Brasil (a subsidiary of Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide) became the airport operator after the company won the concession for 25 years in a bidding process organized by the Brazilian government .
The government at that time was the facto government following a coup d´etat where Dilma Rouseff was impeached through lawfare persecution . Fraport AG made plans to expand the airport's capacity to be able to receive wide-body aircraft, mainly for cargo. They announced that they would extend the runway from 2,280 to 3,200 meters , using exactly that plot of land where Vila Nazaré is located.
Protests and public audiences were carried out in an attempt to negotiate reparations. In these public audiences, FRAPORT’s representatives were present, but they refused to speak and even left before the audience finished . FRAPORT’s representatives had refused to acknowledge that they should be responsible for communities’ reparations . However, the contract between Fraport and the Brazilian Ministry of Transport shows the opposite is true: ‘Any eviction from areas located on the airport site, in the possession or possession of third parties, prior to or after the conclusion of the Contract, will be the full responsibility of the Concessionaire’ .
At the beginning of 2019, the municipality started evicting families from their homes. Some of their homes were destroyed by bulldozers, leaving the inhabitants in a condition of living within debris and without access to water .
Families that were evicted were not resettled. They also were not accompanied by social workers or akin institutional support. Furthermore, the leaders of the community were criminalized . One leader was accused of assassination, but it was never officially charged by the District Attorney. This was a false accusation. Two other leaders lost their jobs without any explanation, although they had worked there for more than five years .
Shortly after the first evictions were initiated in 2019, the Brazilian public prosecutor started a court case against Fraport, claiming the right to housing for the families in Vila Nazaré and demanding that Fraport pays for the costs of the forced removal and the housing that was constructed for resettlement. The public prosecutor stated that neither Fraport nor the city government could forcibly remove families, and until the process occurs in an appropriate and transparent manner, no family should be evicted .
An injunction was granted, but families were intimidated into believing that they had to take the 30mx30m apartments or would end up with nothing. However, evictions continued.
Current Situation. Even though threatened and intimidated, about 60 families continue to resist.
Many families work in the informal sector and rely upon collective areas in Vila Nazare, where cardboard, plastic and aluminum recycling is carried out. This type of infrastructure has not been included in the new housing complex, and some individuals have to return to Vila Nazare to care for their horses and be able to continue their work, collecting and recycling these materials in the Vila Nazare region.
Some families continue to live among the debris, facing violence from public power. There are problems with water and electricity. Their desire is to remain in the area and fulfill their right to compensation, whereas they are being threatened with eviction during the Covid pandemic  and offered compensation well below the compensation offered in similar federal government infrastructure cases in Porto Alegre .
Christian Russau, a German journalist that has accompanied this case for several years. He has visited the community and wrote about the situation in a report in July 2020 where he argued, “Fraport is as presumptuous as ever. For years it has denied its responsibility to Vila Nazaré. Even worse, during the most recent Fraport shareholders AGM on May 26th, 2020, the CEO had the audacity to declare that ‘for many people there, this is the first time that they have had a clean and safe home’- To sum it up: Fraport has taken away their homes, their livelihoods, and everything that they had – a now it presents itself as their savior.
The violations experienced by the families of Vila Nazare are many. The majority of the affected families have left, and their livelihoods have been affected. Currently, they live outside the city and their voices were never heard by the government nor Fraport. So, in the extreme periphery of the Porto Alegre, where the families have been resettled, no preparations were made to increase access to basic services such as health, social work, and education to respond to the need of these 2 thousand resettled families.
This worsened by the fact that the majority now live in 5 story apartment buildings where some CoVid cases have been confirmed, and concerns have been raised regarding the cracks in the walls and floors .
#Save People Not Planes
#Rules for TNCs
#RIGHTS for Peoples
#Stop CorporateImpunity #AirportInjustice