Favela Residents in Brazil Get Deed to Their Shacks

Brazilian officials said yesterday, September 25, they will begin mapping two labyrinthine Rio shantytowns, a first step toward granting land titles to residents who otherwise have no property rights despite living for generations in the sprawling slums.

The government will spend one million dollars to survey the Rocinha and Vidigal shantytowns that drape two mountainsides overlooking some of the city’s most famous beaches, Minister of Cities Márcio Fortes Almeida said.

"A right to property is like a right to citizenship," Almeida told a ceremony inaugurating the program that was held in a humble white church wedged in the heart of Rocinha. It’s a problem echoed in squatter settlements around the world.

The shantytowns, known in Brazil as favelas, sprung up at the end of the 19th century as freed slaves sought to make their home on unclaimed land mostly along the city’s steep hillsides. Later migrants from the country’s poor Northeast caused the favelas to swell.

Today, about a fifth of Rio de Janeiro’s six million residents live in the favelas.

In recent years, the government has taken steps to incorporate the favelas that crowd most Brazilian cities into the urban infrastructure, giving names to the streets and finally putting them on city maps.

Without the land title, favela residents are unable to finance home repairs, receive credit and mail or sell their property. They can also be evicted without legal recourse – a real fear for people in a city where entire favelas have been removed to make way for commercial developments in the past.

"For many years Rocinha has been like a ghost city; these property titles will give people a chance to prove they exist," said Igor Mello, a property rights activist employed by the program.

Almeida said that in order for families to receive titles they must be able to prove they have lived there for at least five years. The program is expected to benefit more than 5,000 families in the two favelas, he said.

Since 2003, 272,000 families nationwide have received titles to property in favelas and another 450,000 families are in the process of getting them, he said.

Favela residents hope that by the beginning of next year they will have land titles, said William de Oliveira, president of the Rocinha residents association, reputed to be the largest shantytown in Latin America.

"We are called a neighborhood, but we are not a neighborhood," Oliveira said. "We lack most of the things real neighborhoods have."

Mercopress

Tags:

You May Also Like

The Man Who Knew Too Much

"I committed the only sin that politics does not forgive: to tell the truth ...

Brazil Supreme Greenlights Stem Cell Research

The Brazilian Supreme Federal Court voted by a narrow margin to uphold legislation allowing ...

Brazil’s Lula Will Defend a Just Globalization at the G8 Summit

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva embarks today for Gleneagles, Scotland, where he ...

40 Million Brazilians Have No Water to Drink

“It behooves us to remember that 40 million people in the country today do ...

Rio Grande Port in Brazil Has Record Cargo Movement

Located in the Brazilian southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, the Rio Grande ...

Lula Pats Himself on the Back for Brazil’s Booming Economy

On his fortnightly radio program, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva commented on ...

Brazil’s Natural Gas Fleet Close to 1 Million

Prior to the end of 2005, it is possible that the target set by ...

Brazilian Ambassador to US Expecting Doha Round Accord for Very Soon

Brazil's ambassador to the United States, Antonio Patriota, says that world trade talks are ...

RAPIDINHAS

Many in Brazil felt impunity had taken a major hit back in 1992, when ...

Everything Seems Wrong, Yet Brazil Is an Agricultural Powerhouse

The record-breaking failure of 18.2 million tons, worth US$ 4.1 million (10 million reais), ...

WordPress database error: [Table './brazzil3_live/wp_wfHits' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed]
SHOW FULL COLUMNS FROM `wp_wfHits`