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Solidarity for Prestes Maia

squatters of the world unite | 14.02.2006 02:48 | Free Spaces | Globalisation | Social Struggles | London | World

Gentrification by greedy developers and corrupt local officials isn't just a problem in Hackney...

'PRESTES MAIA MUST STAY' - squatter, social centres and samba solidarity demo, Thursday 16th Feb 1pm outside Brazilian Embassy, 32 Green St, London, W1 (bring drums, carnival costumes and cardboard boxes to erect shanty town),+UK&radius=0.0&cid=51500197,-126197,5716811906749722123&li=lmd&z=14&t=m

'Prestes Maia' is a massive squat in downtown São Paulo which houses 468 families, a library, workshops, educational, social and cultural activities and it's due to be evicted any day. London's social centres have had a long history of association with south american solidarity campaigns from Columbia to Argentina and so when we saw the indymedia story about the imminent eviction of 1,600 people from this huge squatted tower block we wondered if we could pull together some kind of solidarity demo in London this week.

The obvious thing to do would be to visit the Brazilian embassy with a bunch of squatters and the samba band, make noise, and generally express our solidarity for the squatters and our distaste for the authorities heartless gentrification schemes. There may well be other actions possible and it would be great to discuss them with anyone with ideas.

There is little time to act, the eviction is expected between the Wed 15th and 21st of February. We discussed this at the rampART meeting on Monday evening and decided to call a demo for thursday at 1pm.

Between the social centres network, wombles and rampart mailing lists, along with the new Squatter Information Network and the ASS, it should be possible to mobilize a reasonable little crowd this week. I imagine that groups such as the Hands off Venezuela (who have a demo on wednesday) and the Bolivian Solidarity group might also forward a call to action.


# So, thats Thursday 16th
# 1pm outside the Brazilian Embassy
# It's near Marble Arch Station - 32 Green St, London,
# bring banners, drums, carnival costumes and
# cardboard boxes to erect shanty town,+UK&radius=0.0&cid=51500197,-126197,5716811906749722123&li=lmd&z=14&t=m

This is the article from

South America's largest squatted highrise building is under threat.

The "Prestes Maia", by far the largest squatted highrise building on the South American continent, is under threat of eviction. With its 468 families, accounting for more than 1600 previously homeless people, including children, elderly and disabled, the building will shortly be returned to its 'lawful' owner, Mr. Hamuche & Co., who in the last 15 years of 'ownership' accumulated a debt in municipal taxes of some 5 million reais (approx. 2.2 million dollars / 2.1 million euros), which is more than the building is worth. This enormous debt, together with long years of abandonment, should well justify (even according to law) a claim for the building to become public property by the local municipality, but nevertheless will be returned to its owner, putting hundreds of people back onto the streets.

The 468 families, united in the Downtown Roofless Movement (Movimento Sem Teto do Centro or MSTC) of São Paulo, have lived in the 22-storey highrise since 2002. The building had simply been closed down for years and left in deplorable condition, serving as shelter for rats and cockroaches, as is the case of many buildings in downtown São Paulo. The new residents cleaned out tonnes of rubbish and litter (200 trucks to be exact!), organized it, expelled drugs and other criminal bosses always there to take advantage, turning it into an exciting and lively human dwelling.

Last January 27th, the family's representatives met with the police authorities in charge of the forthcoming eviction. During the meeting, it was made clear that the action will take place somewhere between the 15th and 21st of February -- an exact date was not given for 'strategic' reasons – and that the troops will be 'prepared for the worst'. Yesterday, february 7th, the residents of Prestes Maia’s building block the street in front of the occupation. They stayed there for almost 2 hours. This act was an attempt to bring more attention to the situation of the residents and to the possible eviction, scheduled to take place next week.

The families were advised to leave the precinct before the eviction to avoid unpleasant encounters, and when they asked where they were supposed to go, the answer was: 'to the streets or elsewhere'.

This is the way the city government has acted during countless evictions since Mr. José Serra took office as major of the largest Brazilian city, in the beginning of 2005. His project to 'gentrify' the city centre, largely paid for by international funds, based on expelling the low-earning families and street dwellers, counts on the systematic employment of the municipal (Guarda Civil Metropolitana) and state (Polícia Militar) police forces.

This clearly shows the municipal and state authorities' attitude towards the 'poor' and their movements: first criminalise them and then fight and persecute them, without mercy, expelling them to the sub-urban 'favelas' or at the most to 'social housing projects', mostly even further out.

The 'Prestes Maia' squat -- with its library, its workshops, its educational, social and cultural activities -- in the last years turned into a major laboratory of experiments in organizing a real human renewal of downtown São Paulo. People of all ages and upbringings, of all Brazilian states and other nationalities, artists, students, work together to create a new understanding of how the city should and can work. Putting all these people back onto the streets, 'pulverizing' them, is a maior crime! Support 'Prestes Maia'!

Read more here->

squatters of the world unite


Display the following 6 comments

  1. Additional info — squatters of the world unite
  2. Solidarity actions elsewhere in the country? — options
  3. More London possibilities — affinity
  4. SIgn the Prestes Maia Petition — André
  5. Thanks for the Solidarity — toya
  6. progress - in'it great — n