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Lives over Profit – People over Planes
The last remaining families that resist an airport expansion, at Vila Nazaré, Porto Alegre, Brazil, are currently being cited to appear to online hearings concerning their dispossession. In spite of the extremely high Covid-19 cases in Porto Alegre, the families who often don’t have internet access are expected to expose themselves to the virus and to attend the hearings from a space organized by the airport corporation Fraport itself.
More than 2000 families have already been dispossessed for the expansion mainly for cargo reasons, carried out by the German corporation and airport administrator Fraport. The violations caused by Fraport were recently documented in a report by Friends of the Earth Europe. On behalf of our more than 160 member organisations globally, Stay Grounded denounces the never-ending human rights violations by Fraport at Vila Nazaré. We support the demand of our member organisation Homeless Workers Movement Rio Grande do Sul (MTST-RS) for these on-line hearings to be cancelled immediately. The families should have their rights protected through in-person hearings when public health conditions permit and with the necessary clarifications regarding their rights.
Lives over Profit – People over Planes: Statement by MTST-RS, March 1st, 2021
Fraport, a German corporation which administers the Salgado Filho Airport in Porto Alegre, Brazil, continues driving the forced removal of the last remaining families that still live in Vila Nazaré. Due to the extension of the airport’s runway, the majority of the community has been removed to housing complexes that had been constructed, far from their place of origin, work spaces, schools and health centres. The never-ending human rights violations continue.
Coerced by the public authority and private interests, many families were forced to accept what had been imposed upon them. These families, who had lived there for more than 50 years, were treated as though they were squatters, denied not only the right to choose but also all the other associated housing rights. Without even the minimal measures to provide for their own survival, these families are now experiencing hunger, unemployment, and there is limited access to public policies and social services. They have been stripped of all respect and dignity.
So as if this chaotic situation were not bad enough, right now where Porto Alegre is experiencing extremely high CoVid-19 indices, the families that have resisted in their homes and did not give in to this coercion have now been cited with judicial procedures granting possession to Fraport. The conciliatory hearings, which were scheduled to be held in person, have been cancelled due to the CoVid-19 black flag restrictions. Yesterday, these families were cited in record time to appear in conciliatory hearings online, starting today. With the insolent pretense of whitewashing the coercion and harassment, in addition to further CoVid-19 exposition, Fraport has provided the Municipal Housing Department’s (DEMHAB) container with internet access and the support of a DEMHAB technician, who can offer “impartial” support in a truly public private partnership based on violating rights.
What type of justice is this that defends the interests of international capital at the expense of those who most need it? What type of rights exist where judges preside, safe and protected in their homes, while those who clearly without access and knowledge to safely access the system from the safety of their homes must expose themselves to the virus and coercion to access a hearing from the space managed by those who threaten them?
We do not oppose sustainable economic development that responds to human and social needs. However, we are totally against any initiative that goes against human dignity, underscoring these continuous exclusionary displacement processes.
We demand that these on-line hearings be cancelled! So that it is clear, the haste with which the case of Nazare has been treated, is in “synchrony” with the Fraport construction schedule. We demand that the families have their rights protected through in-person hearings when public health conditions permit and with the necessary clarifications regarding their rights and the options offered.
Homeless Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto – Rio Grande do Sul, MTST-RS) is part of a national movement that has been organising urban workers for more than 20 years at the place where they live – the outlying neighbourhoods of Brazilian cities. MTST-RS supports the community of more than 2000 families that have been dispossessed for an airport expansion. The airport project was outsourced to Frankfurt Airport (Germany) in 2018.