Portelinha

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Portelinha is an invasion of 90 families. They occupy two buildings and an open space from an old brushes’ factory. This population received recently a promise of resettlement made by the State Government.

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Caike

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Caike, 5 years old, wants to become a football player. He was born in Portelinha.

Paulo

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Paulo, 6 years old, he wants to become a basketball player in order to win trophies. At school he enjoys the mathematics.

Patrick

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Patrick, 8 years old, wants to work in construction site like his grandfather. Maybe to fix the terrible structural problems present in his residencial environment.

João

João is a man who lives surrounded by children. In his small and improvised room at the old shed from the brush factory, he resides, on his own, with four grandchildren, having the oldest eight years of age. He has no wife and his son, father of the four boys, has been imprisoned for 7 seven years. The mother of the boys abandoned her children. João supports his family doing small jobs as a construction worker. He has previously worked in several industries of the area, including a huge closed down screw factory, Parafusos Flecha. The man was born in Minas Gerais, arrived in Rio in 1961.

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João has a long history of organizing and occupying shut down factories and abandoned lands in Bairro do Jacaré. He was the residents’ association president of Chupa Cabra, a settlement that gathered 100 plus families in a dangerous terrain under the Metro line and by the Railway line, between rails so to speak. People were resettled from that area and João had to move to the occupied milk factory, CCPL, an invasion that concentrated 1500 families. The factory went to the ground, the residents were relocated by the government, but João says he got nothing, nor house or money. Short of precise details the man says he had to find another place to live, another occupied factory, Portelinha, where he’s been living for five years, and from where he will have to leave, because the remains of the factory will be imploded to give place for popular apartment blocks. All the residents, 150 families have the promise to be resettled by the State Government, winning a brand new 40 m² apartment in the region.

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João is a local leader and makes a discourse of social demand, with severe critics to the public services offered, regarding public health, but especially highlighting the absence of sports and leisure areas for his grandchildren. The man, who has worked in São Paulo, comments that in the biggest city of Brazil there are more options of free leisure than in Rio, pointing out its parks. He says that the residents of Portelinha, despite the precariousness of the place, don’t want to leave for a distant neighborhood. “People want jobs in the area they live in”. João dreams on the return of jobs from the ancient Industrial District of Jacaré. This region went through a golden age, with hundreds of active industrial plants, today it is only a shadow of what it was. João hopes one day to open his door and not see any discharge water, not having any rats in his home. –“Who lives in invaded properties wishes for proper home”.

Cida – Expedito, the Husband – Patrick, the Son

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Cida reached Portelinha 4 years ago. Her house is a wooden shack in the open area of the old factory. She points out that the house is simple and untidy. Inside the diminutive room her husband watches television with a lost look and undefined expression on his face. One of Cida’s sons arrives with bread; she comments that “he’s got psychosis but is a good boy”. She came to Rio “for  love to her man”, who came before to work. The man in question remains without any expression on his face as she speaks. He used to work as a doorman but is now unemployed. Cida affirms that “employers do not hold on people for long in order to pay less charges”.

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She has reached Rio from Cuiabá 20 years ago; first settled in Nilópolis,  at Baixada Fluminense, the metropolitan area of Rio. There her life fell into a sequence of tragic events, from which she hasn’t been able to scape, yet. At one moment, after breaking up with her husband, she had to seek shelter in a public facility, where she lived a few months with her children. The memories of that place in the neighborhood of Triagem are bitter, she was robbed and mistreated. In some other time of Cida’s life, she settled in the occupied factory of CCPL, an impressive illegal condominium where 1500 families lived. From that place she was supposedly resettled, but still waiting for the 32 thousands reais of indemnity promised by the government. At this point, her husband confirmed the story with a weak voice, like he hasn’t exercised dialogue for quite some time. They have been waiting and living with no support for two years. When she was living at the CCPL, Cida described how she inadvertently found herself in a big misunderstanding that led her to a 3 years jail sentence. She claims innocence explaining that someone had placed marijuana in her pocket. Nevertheless, the police found it and arrested her as a drug trafficker. This fact is the starting point of another period of suffering and banishment. Arrested on a drug trafficking charge she had to leave her children with her mother-in-law in order to serve the sentence.

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Cida speaks of her depression, how she has spent too much time depressed, how she is now depressed. The woman affirms that she only stands “by the mercy of God!”, and complements telling she’s heard a preacher say poverty facilitates the entrance in the “kingdom of heaven”, that one being the only competitive advantage of being poor. The lady avoids getting out of her shack, restricting it to the absolutely necessary; she suffers silently. About Portelinha, Cida points out how difficult it is to live there, “there are several health problems caused by the daily life in this old factory, such as diarrhea and other sickness caused by the contact with raw sewer. “People live in captivity here”.

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