The Antiga Company is a 50+ families squat. The building, a representative piece of the industrial architecture of the 60’s, was, most recently a celebrated surf wear brand factory, focused on a middle class public. The old factory has two floors. The first one is not really illuminated and only the houses that are adjacent to the outside walls are ventilated. The second floor is accessed by a sheer stairway. It is, in fact, the roof of the structure, which was transformed into a lodging ground.
Cristina doesn’t live at Antiga Company, however 8 of her family members reside in the old surfwear factory. The lady doesn’t live officially at the place but spends hers days there, taking care of a mentally disabled grandchild. Cristina has an accelerated speech. She says that since she’s arrived at the factory, 5 years ago, she ‘s done several basic improvements. The only entrance to the invasion was very degraded but with Cristina’s help the residents were able to improve the floor and the sewer pipes. The lady is identified as a local syndic by the residents, due to her articulated availability. Her daughter arrived at the invasion followed by a desire to live by herself. Cristina helped her financially to buy the space she occupies today. While the daughter is at work Cristina takes care of the disabled grandchild, who attends a rehabilitation center a few days a week. There are 45 families living in this place. She comments on the situation of the building’s structure, which is precarious with the top floor being overweighted by the shelters. There is a constant collapse terror. She explains that there are many water infiltrations weakening the building. The residences in the lower floor suffer with leaks from the top floor’s bathrooms. When it rains a generalized fear is installed. The lady says she was recently hospitalized for 8 months. She affirms – “It is a full-time stress living here”.
It’s been three years since this young woman has arrived at Antiga Company. Rosangela used to live at Jacarezinho, but due to her weeding and a newborn she needed a place of her own. This was her emotional and practical path to the squatted factory. Works sporadically as a maid, but has also worked at a graphic lab. Regarding the conditions of the place she affirms that “the situation is kind of harsh but we keep on going”. She has the personal desire of going through an informatics course. She says that “imagination is indispensable”.
Osmar, Juliana and their son
The couple has a son and has been living at the invasion since 2003. Juliana used to work as a hotel maid. She came to the old factory from Mandela de Pedra, a Manguinhos Complex. She tells us she easily adapted to the factory because where she came from was as precarious as this condition. By his time her husband says that it was not easy for him. He came from Jacarezinho and needed to move because he could not afford the rent. At the first floor, where they live, there is no natural light, and their house has no windows to the outside but only to the corridor. They say it was necessary to set up a roof at their shack, despite the fact that the house is localized in the internal area of the old factory in order to avoid floods in their home, however it only works partially.
Osmar, who is a doorman at a middle class building in the neighborhood of Tijuca, explains that he suffers from prejudices because of where he lives, transmitted by the looks people give him, according to his experience. At his work environment no one knows about his life, about his particular lodging conditions, this way this permanent judgement is not active there. He really fells it in the streets. “We are despised for living here. But in the end we are all going to the same place, where we all get a shovel of dirt in the face”. He wishes to leave the invasion “to have an adequate life, not like everybody has, but with dignity”. He says that his son and the kids of the surrounding are in need of places to practice sports, he says that Mangueira has a great park and that many persons move to Mangueira because of the public equipments.
Marinaldo and his family
Marinaldo lives on the top floor of the old factory. His home, as the others of this floor, is on open air. He is father of five children, four girls and a boy. Two of the girls are adolescents and daughters of his wife first marriage. Nevertheless, he cares for then like his own since they were little ones. The family came all together from Bahia’s countryside in 2006. They lived on rent at Jacarezinho when a friend indicated the factory as a housing option. At first he bought a wooden shack, then the two contiguous houses. His family prospered in the period, he reformed the shacks turning it into one brick house that comfortably accommodates his large family. Even so, he dreams of better lodging conditions for his loved ones. He tells that when it rains, the top floor floods completely, affecting the already fragile structure, exemplifying – “the building shakes as the cars and trucks pass by the street”. He is really excited with the resettlement perspective presented by the State Government.
Rosane was raised in the Jacaré district area. She recollects the period when the neighborhood had plenty of jobs. She would like more options of leisure and sport for the kids. Despite the barriers, she lives with joy, focusing on the development of her children. They, her children, keep on promising their mother a better life.
It’s been 10 years since Rosane arrived at Antiga Company. Before she resided with her mother in Matapi, another squat nearby. She wanted a place of her own to live with her kids, so she established her family at this squat. She heard that an old factory was being occupied; she grabbed the opportunity and bought, with great difficulty, a shack on the roof floor. She now lives alone with three children. She works as a maid, the only professional activity she ever performed in life. Rosane speaks badly about her lodging conditions, dreaming of a better situation for her family. She protests about the large population of rats in the old factory. She feels an intense fear when it rains, because she knows the fragility of the building that was not built to support as much weight as it does now. Any light rain floods the area and affects circulation. She describes the struggle of taking the kids to school on these rainy days. The woman needs to carry all of her children through the dangerous stairway, so they do not get dirty. She says that in those moments she appeals to faith – “ Hold it there Jesus!”.
Rosane used to live in Bahia, in the city of Ubaitaba four years ago before reaching Rio. The lady affirms that she’d imagined something else. Life in Rio is harder than she expected. Rosane lives with her husband and four children. They arrived at the invasion straight from Bahia with the help of a cousin who lived in the factory. She has never worked and her husband is a construction worker. She can’t wait to get out of this place. She explains that the government is promising to relocate her and the other residents, but she remains suspicious – “I would only believe it if I’d see it happen”. She dreams of living in a place where she can feel safe with her kids.
João lives in a small house in the end of a corridor located on the roof. He was one of the original occupiers of the old factory 10 years ago. He says he took part to this action because he lived on rent at Jacarezinho and could not afford it anymore. Today his son lives with his own family in the next door house. João has retired because of back problems he suffered from when he worked as a beverage delivery man. He tells that he has a dream of working for himself. He’d like to set up a little bar/grocery shop, but where alcohol would not be sold, because he is “from the church”. He wants to sell soft drinks, candies, legumes, fruits. However, he considers, what would really change his life is “getting out of this place”. “To me this place is like a prison. I want to open my window and see the world, not a wall”. João’s house is located in a narrow corridor. He adds that he has spent some time in prison. João foresees that the government will construct a building in the same land they occupy now and will relocate all the residents to this building. He dreams of his little commerce in the first floor of this building. “ I don’t want to go through any more exploitation in work. I want to work for myself. I have been sufficiently humiliated in work. The humiliation is the salary, it is so low!”. In this moment, João raised his speech and did a discourse of critic and social demand -“I want to enjoy my grandchildren. The problem of the working man, like my son, is to leave early and be back late. The man leaves the house before his children are awaken and comes back when they are already asleep. I don’t want to live just for work. People need leisure. I want to have an address, because this is not home, it’s a squatter. I want to have a proper life, receiving the mail at your door. I want a home. I want a place to feel at ease and rest my mind. I want a proper life. Enough of these humiliations!”.