Rio Removes Thousands from Favelas and Promises Them a Home

Rains and mudslides in RioThousands of Brazil’s favela (shantytown) residents were evacuated by Brazilian authorities on Sunday so their houses could be demolished after heavy rains that killed at least 232 people last week threatened further landslides.

Rio de Janeiro mayor, Eduardo Paes, said residents of the Morro do Urubu favelas were being evacuated ahead of demolitions planned for Monday. The mayor decreed late last week that residents could be forcibly removed from their neighborhoods, perched precariously on hillsides.

“There is still a risk of rains in the city. We cannot let people stay in danger zones” he said, noting that some 10,000 people live in the designated “risk areas.”

Families will receive a “social pension” of US$ 141 each month to pay for temporary housing until new houses are built, the mayor said.

On a visit to the Morro do Bumba slum in Niterói on Sunday, Rio state Governor Sergio Cabral announced the federal government would provide a loan of some US$ 2.3 billion to cover damages.

Morro do Bumba, where dozens of houses were destroyed by landslides, was built on an old garbage dump, compacted by time. The hillside gave way after the heavy rains, burying alive about 200 people, most of them still missing, according to official estimates.

Labor minister Carlos Lupi has said a 30-year credit line of US$ 567 million, with a 3% interest rate, has been set up to finance construction of public housing. The federal government meanwhile already released US$ 113 million in aid for municipalities in Rio state affected by the floods and mudslides.

The heavy rain forced some 50,000 people to leave their homes, officials said, either because their homes were damaged or because they were ordered to leave due to fear of fresh landslides.

Mercopress

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