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Vila Nazare resists against Porto Alegre Airport Expansion by Fraport, Brazil


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 [1].

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 [2]. 

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 [3].

The government at that time was the facto government following a coup d´etat where Dilma Rouseff was impeached through lawfare persecution [4]. 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 [5], 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 [6].  FRAPORT’s representatives had refused to acknowledge that they should be responsible for communities’ reparations [7]. 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’ [8].

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 [9].

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 [10]. 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 [11].

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 [12].

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 [13] and offered compensation well below the compensation offered in similar federal government infrastructure cases in Porto Alegre [14].

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’[15]- 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 [16]. 


#Save People Not Planes

#Rules for TNCs

#RIGHTS for Peoples

#Stop CorporateImpunity #AirportInjustice

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Vila Nazare resists against Porto Alegre Airport Expansion by Fraport, Brazil
State or province:Rio Grande do Sul
Location of conflict:Vila Nazaré, Porto Alegre
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Salgado Filho international airport expansion details

The expansion project will be carried out in two phases.

Phase 1: It started in March 2018 and finished in October 2019. It includes the expansion of the terminal building by 36,000 m² aiming to receive more passengers. A new space to accommodate 27 aircraft more and 14 parking spaces and boarding bridges.

Furthermore, a garage building with 4,300 parking areas and access ways will be constructed and safety areas will be created next to the runway.

A brand new cargo inspection system will also be deployed for the inspection of cargo to be shipped to international destinations. Phase one is expected to be carried out with an estimated budget of BRL1.5bn (USD39m).

Phase 2: Started from November 2019 and is expected to be concluded in August 2042. It aims at expanding the existing runway from 2,280m to 3,200m to accommodate wide-body aircraft.

Reference: Accessed 04/04/2021

Project area:18.6hectares
Level of Investment:USD 400,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:2000 families
Start of the conflict:2018
Company names or state enterprises:FRAPORT Brazil from Germany - 100% - holds concession to manage, operate & expand the airport as well as evicting the 2000 families
Relevant government actors:Federal District Attorney- Civil Action Petition [12]
Federal Civil Public Defender
Rio Grande do Sul District Attorney
Rio Grande do Sul Civil Public Defender
Department of Housing, Municipal Government, Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre Municipal Government
Rio Grande do Sul State Government
Federal Government of Brazil
National Civilian Aviation Authority (ANAC)
International and Finance InstitutionsO Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) (BNDES) from Brazil - 60% of project costs have been provided by BNDES to FRAPORT
Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide from Germany - Parent company
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Friends of the Earth Brazil;
MTST -RS Houseless Workers Movement Rio Grande do Sul;

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
Social movements
Wastepickers, recyclers
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Global warming, Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsPrivatisation of public goods


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The evicted families were pressured to leave their homes without proper information about their rights. 60 families that continue to resist in the Vila have been treated even worse without proper access to basic necessities or legal support. They have been offered monetary compensation well below the compensation offered in similar federal government infrastructure cases in Porto Alegre, which they have rejected. Currently, negotiations have been suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4]O Impeachment de Presidenta Dilma Rousseff foi golpe ou crime

[2]Friends of the Earth Europe 2020. Do no harm: the case for an EU law to hold business liable for human rights violations and environmental harm

[8]Contrato de Consessao para Ampliacao, Manutencao e Exploracao

dos Aeroportos de Porto Alegre (2016)

[1]Práticas Urbanas Emergentes, Vila Nazaré, Porto Alegre, RS, Bruno Melo, UFRGS, 2019

[12]Civil Public Action, MPF, DPF, MP-RS, DP-RS vs. Fraport, a União, Porto Alegre, ANAC, DMHAB, 04/07/2019.

[13]Stay Grounded, “Lives over profits People over planes. 03/03/2021.

[14]Pilares da nova ponte do guaiba chegam ao limite da ilha dos marinheiros e moradores ainda temem pelo futuro, 06/02/2018.

[5] BNDES approves BRL 1.25 billion financing to Fraport Brasil - Porto Alegre (2018) fraport-portoalegre-enus/media/2018.12.14_Release_Assinatura%20 do%20 Contrato%20Fraport%20e%20BNDES_EN.pdf

[15]Christian Russau, Fraport causes destruction all over the world, 05/07/2020,

[6]Nada a ver Fraport deve assumir sua responsabiildade no reassentamento da Vila Nazaré. Amigos da Terra Brasil, 31/05/2019.

[7] Ibid

[3]Fraport Brasil takes over Fortaleza and Porto Alegre operations

(2018) alegre-operations/

[11]Interviews with community leaders (Names withheld at interviewees' request), March 2021, June 2020, April 2020

[16]Moradores transferidos para loteamento na zona norte reclamam de condições dos imóveis em Porto Alegre

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[10]Ofensiva ataca tráfico na Vila Nazaré, Zero Hora, 23/08/2019, p. 37

[9]Famílias divididas escombros e desinformação frente a violações de direitos instituições brasileiras levam Fraport a justiça (2019)
http:// e-desinformacao-frente-a-violacoes-de-direitosinstituicoes- brasileiras-levam-fraport-a-justica/

Other comments:#SavePeopleNotPlanes

Meta information

Contributor:Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto (MTST), [email protected],
Last update15/04/2021



Political Cartoon & Map Distance between Vila Nazare and new neighborhoods

Latouff, 2017 Map produced by UFRGS Architecture Department 2019

UFRGS Architecture Department 2019

Map of area and red highlight where Vila Nazare is being demolished

Street protest

Protest against Fraport- Brazil by the Vila Nazare community

Nazare destroyed

Protest against Fraport- Brazil by the Vila Nazare community

MEU LUGAR NO MUNDO SE FOI (Réquiem da Vila Nazaré)

Poem dedicated to the destroyed community of Vila Nazare by Bruno Cesar Euphrasio de Mello, Architect and Urbanist