Brazil’s Nova Luz: Downtown Revitalization or Cleansing Operation?

The Nova Luz project

A new project launched by the São Paulo local government entitled ‘Nova Luz’ (‘New Light’) has been deemed as a hugely ineffective method to revitalize one of the city’s poorest and socially unequal areas – often referred to as ‘Cracolândia’ due to the rife drug problems and seeming lack of control that currently exist there.

The proposed aim of the program will be to revitalize the streets in the immediate vicinity of the Luz metro station (including the demolition of 45 blocks) within which many buildings remain abandoned or resided in by squatters, addicts and drug dealers.  The plans also focus on transforming the region into another of the city’s cultural and technological hubs.


However, Diana Helene Ramos of the University of São Paulo – despite claims of one the program’s objectives to create 2,260 social housing units – states that the underlying objective of the program in reality will ostracize those whose have existing local business interests.

A number of local residents and business owners have also voiced their anger at the plans.  Nelson Cruz de Souza of the Central [São Paulo] Residents movement stated to the ‘Dia’ newspaper that: “it all forms part of a cleansing operation to get rid of poor people from the center of the city.”

Others have stated that attempting to ‘wash’ the region’s problems away by a revitalization program is a naïve form of action considering the magnitude of the social issues, particularly related to drugs.

This article corrects information published previously in this same space.

Ruban Selvanayagam is a Brazil real estate and land specialist. For free e-books, state guides, up-to-date statistics, strategies, interviews, articles, weekly broadcasts and more head to the Brazil Real Estate and Land Investment Guide via the following link:


  • Show Comments (9)

  • Tati Helene

    thanks for the correction!

  • Ruban Selvanayagam

    The issue is being dealt with. Apologies again for any offence caused…

  • Marília Gonçalves

    Diana Helene is NOT RESPONSIBLE for “NOVA LUZ”
    Hi, Mr Selvanayagam

    I’m a brazilian journalist who works directly with the architect Diana Helene. I can assure you SHE IS NOT responsible for the project Nova Luz. That makes no sense.

    Please remove this information immediately. Thanks.

  • Tati Helene

    Are you insane??? Diana Helene Ramos DO NOT FORMULATE THE NOVA LUZ PROJECT, she is one of the most active against this project. If you are trying to understand Brazil since 1989, I have to tell you that you COMPLETELY FAILED, because you understand completely the opposite in this situation. I hope you fix this as quickly as possible, because it is a defamation.

  • Ruban Selvanayagam

    Sincere Apologies
    A badly researched article which I take full responsibility for. I will get this removed / amended accordingly as soon as possible…

  • Diana Helene Ramos

    Mr. Ruban Selvanayagam

    I´d like you to immediately remove any references to my name and
    work in your articles published in different websites [1]. Despite
    the opportunist and politically conservative content of these
    articles, you affirm that I´m responsible for the formulation and
    proposal of the Nova Luz project, in São Paulo. I emphatically
    request you to REMOVE IMMEDIATLY those references on these articles,
    and in any other publications you might have written.

    I want to make clear that I´M NOT THE FORMULATOR OR PROPONENT of the
    project. On the contrary, I make a very hard critic on it, which was
    better developed in my master´s dissertation, in University of São
    Paulo [2]. This is an horrible and excluding project, which dis
    consider the serious problem that urban poverty is in Brazil. When I
    affirm that “large investments” and “boost employment opportunities”
    that will be attracted by the project, I´m saying that the Nova Luz
    priorities are guided by economic values of small dominant sector of

    And for your concern, the Nova Luz project is an initiative of São
    Paulo´s local government, articulated with conservative sector of the
    economical elite. Please, next time you write something about you
    don´t know, make a decent research. And ask help to someone who can
    actually read Portuguese.

    Diana Helene Ramos.

    [1] and


  • filipe

    Dear Mrs Selvanayagam,
    I recomend you to know more about São Paulo centre projects and about Diana Ramos work. The informations about ir are completely wrong, and she is not attached to any governement project. Actually, her work is about to demonstrate the problems created due to those interventions on the local poor population.

  • Beatriz Kaysel

    You guys REALLY should read a little bit more before publishing information!!
    Diana Helene IS DEFINITELY NOT the responsible for the Nova Luz project!!!!
    hhahahaha…knowing here its even funny to imagine….as Natalia Fazzioni said : “she made a master thesis about squats in the area and how the Nova Luz project would affect the inhabitants’ life” so its the other way around…
    If i were you..i would take this article away before you face a serious Lawsuit…

  • Natalia Fazzioni

    I don’t know which kind of sources were used to write this article, but I’m pretty sure they are extremely equivocated. Diana Helene is an architect who is not at all articulated to the governments project, in fact she made a master thesis about squats in the area and how the Nova Luz project would affect the inhabitants’ life. This is an important theme to são paulos’ population, please, I ask you to revise properly the things you write about our conutry.
    Natalia Fazzioni – Anthropologist.

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