World Cup Blamed for Favela Evictions in Rio de Janeiro

Univision

This past week, scores of Brazilians across the country have taken to the streets to protest bad public services, the high cost of living, government corruption and what they see as excessive spending on mega events like the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Initially the protests were sparked by an increase in bus fares but they quickly grew to a broader criticism of local and national governments.

Many Brazilians are outraged that services like transportation, education and healthcare are ineffective and underfunded, yet spending for the World Cup could reach the $40 billion mark, which would make it more expensive than the previous 3 world cups combined, according to a Senate study.

In Rio de Janeiro, the legendary Maracana stadium received a $500 million face-lift, new roads have been built, and dozens of favelas have been demolished, either because they were built in high-risk areas or in spaces designated for public use.

Pierre Batista, the city's secretary of housing, says that in total some 20,000 people have been relocated in Rio de Janeiro since 2009. Most have been resettled to government funded housing projects, while others received rent supplements or were bought out.

Advocates defending the rights of the favela residents say that nationally some 170,000 people have been evicted from their homes.

Rio's resettlement program is similar, yet much smaller in scale, to other programs implemented in countries hosting the World Cup or Olympic Games, like China in 2008 and South Africa in 2010.

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