Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Travis Waldron - The Olympics Are Always A Disaster For Poor People

RIO DE JANEIRO ― Seven years ago, Vila Autódromo was little more than a tranquil fishing village on the edge of Jacarepagua Lagoon, next to the racetrack for which it was named. Like the hundreds of other favelas that dot Rio de Janeiro’s landscape, it had long been neglected by the city government, and it lacked many basic public services that are standard in the fast-growing wealthier neighborhoods just across the water. But to the more than 600 families that lived there, it was home.
“This was a paradise,” said Luiz Cláudio Silva, who lived in Autódromo for more than 20 years. “I thought that I would live here for the rest of my life.”

By the time the Rio Olympics are over, just 20 of the families who lived in Autódromo in 2009, the year the International Olympic Committee chose the city to host the games, will remain. The community, which sits less than a mile away from Rio’s Olympic Park, was crushed so that the city could build new access roads to connect Olympic venues.

Media outlets in Brazil and around the world have documented the plight of these families for years. They told readers about Rio officials’ promises: that Autódromo’s residents would be allowed to stay throughout the Olympics, that the games’ only effect on the neighborhood would be to improve it. 

And they reported on how politicians broke those promises — how the city forced the majority of Autódromo’s residents to leave, how the police cracked down on people who protested their removal, and how bulldozers leveled the homes of people like Silva, who saw the house he built for his wife turned to rubble in March... Read more: