Zika, 6 mesi dopo

pubblicato su D, Repubblica, gennaio 2018

Per il primo compleanno di sua figlia Lis, nata nel gennaio 2016, Carol Calabria, 35 anni, ha affittato una sala nel quartiere chic di Madalena a Recife e l’ha riempito di dolci, regali e palloncini. Le ha comprato un vestito vaporoso, le ha messo una fascetta in testa e ha chiamato una fotografa. Lis però non si è divertita come Carol sperava. Si è irritata ed è scoppiata a piangere, come hanno fatto molti dei piccoli invitati anche loro figli di donne punte in gravidanza dalla zanzara Aedes aegypti, portatrice del virus Zika che oggi sono bambini affetti da microcefalia.



Other Homes

Pubblicato su The Caravan, India, novembre 2013

One afternoon in august last year, Maria Neuma’s neighbours called her at work and warned her not to return home. Since June, 47-year-old Neuma had been a resident of Rio de Janeiro’s Condominium Coimbra, a residential complex in the city’s West Zone, built by the government as part of its Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My Home, My Life) programme. The project, which aims to provide housing to millions of Brazilians who live in poverty across the country, has been beset by problems since its inception. Though it was supposed to address concerns of sanitation, and law and order which plague the favelas that dot every city in Brazil, many of the new complexes in Rio had fallen under the control of informal armed militia. Now, the militia of Condominium Coimbra had threatened violence to Neuma’s family, which drove her neighbours to call her and warn her to stay away.

“It is better if you do not come back, we heard that they want to kill you,” Neuma recalled her neighbours telling her when I met her in August this year. “I was terrified and immediately warned my partner and my children to leave everything as it was and come away without being noticed.” When the family approached the prefecture—the city municipality—for help, they were offered accommodation in a homeless shelter; turning this down, they returned to the favela of Caju where they had lived previously.

The Minha Casa, Minha Vida programme was launched in 2009 by Brazil’s then president, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. A sum of 34 billion reales (more than 10 billion US dollars) was sanctioned for the construction of one million housing units across the country by 2011. According to the city’s Municipal Secretary of Housing, since 2009, 13,677 properties have been delivered to occupants in Rio, 12,167—or 90 percent of them—in the West Zone of the city, where Coimbra is located.

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People disappear in Rio de Janeiro

Pubblicato su, settembre 2013

In Rio de Janeiro often happens that people disappear. And not because “they are exit for a moment to buy cigarettes”, but because they are poor, black, and live in a favela. Certainly not all, but a good portion. The case of Amarildo Dias de Souza which has so shocked public opinion in Brazil and elsewhere, is nothing more than yet another case of unresolved disappearance in the capital. Amarildo is, or was, a man aged 47, a resident of Rocinha, the largest and most famous favela in the world. Amarildo, Boi called by all, was a bricklayer and lived in a shack with his wife Elisabete, called Bete, and their six children. On July 14 it was Sunday and Boi had gone fishing, as he did when he was a little free time. On the way home with fresh fish ready to be cooked, Amarildo was stopped by the UPP, the Peacemaker Police Unit that controls the favela, and taken to the police station. It was to be a normal control but since then Amarildo has not returned home. And Amarildo is not the only one to have vanished without a trace.

According to a study presented by the sociologist Michel Misse of NECVU (Core of Study about Citizenship, Conflict and Urban Violence at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) at the headquarters of OAB/RJ, the Order of Brazilian Lawyers, from 2007 to 2013 there are almost 35,000 missing persons in the State of Rio and 41% of those in the “Marvelous City”. The average in the first five months of this year was 17 per day. In addition, from 2001 to 2011 were more than 10,000 victims of conflict between civilians and the Military Police. Clashes that often occur in unclear circumstances and that are classified as “acts of resistance” against the police.

The police in Rio kills more than any other police force in the world” says Misse. “In the United States, for example, where the police do not use good manners, the dead are 300 per year for a population of 300 million, in our city, inhabited by 16 million people deaths are a thousand.”

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