Freedom News

Brazil: Olive Garden urban occupation under threat of eviction

Activists from the Black Flag anarchist collective report that the squatted site, which houses more than 200 families in the southern Brazilian city of Araquari, is fighting back against threats from the City Hall to send the dogs in.

Update: On February 3rd the Federal Public Ministry enforced a temporary suspension on eviction proceedings for further negotiation.

Jardim das Oliveiras (The Olive Garden) is a self-organised squatted zone near the center of the city which has existed on the site for more than a decade, but received a court repossession order just before Christmas giving them 30 days to leave.

The land is controlled by the Secretaria do Patrimônio da União (SPU), a federal body linked to the Ministry of Planning, and has seen multiple prior eviction attempts the families including raids and notices to leave in 2014 and 2017.

Despite the State’s hostility however about 680 people still live on the large site, including 245 children, most having been forced there through rent difficulties or having lost other land and in recent years residents had been hopeful of some permanence after they started paying utility bills to the city council fir services such as rubbish removal. Much of the community is self-sustaining, with residents growing their own food on site.

Residents have been mobilising to ask for “regularisation” (the right to stay) in all houses which are currently in place and earlier this month around 800 people including residents and supporters rallied at Hercílio Luz bridge and City Hall to bring attention to their troubles. Eight houses were originally regularised in 2009 but the government has been reluctant to offer the same security to anyone else.

SPU had previously, in 2018, given the nod to City Hall to essentially donate the area to the residents, however municipal authorities, led by Cabinet chief Pâmela Cristina Vieira, failed to take them up on the office citing the “urbanisation costs” of streets, lighting and sanitation, and the offer has now expired.

One resident, Solange Borges Mota, lives at the site with her two children, a three-month-old and a seven-year-old girl. She explained: “I don’t have a relative’s house, I have nowhere to put my children. I have no way to pay rent, we have already come here because we have nowhere to live.”

Indigenous resident and occupation activist Josias dos Santos has been part of the occupation for the last nine years. At the city hall demonstration he said:

“We just want to live, to be able to have our family around us, to have schools, the best for society.

“Among us there are people who are in wheelchairs, people who are not even able to give a rallying cry today.” 

In a supporting statement, the Black Flag Collective said:

In the last few weeks we have been informed about the possibility of these 200 families being evicted by the State, including its use of guard dogs, judicial and police powers to meet the demands of the ruling class.

In the last few decades we have followed the terrible interest in profits of large companies and local politicians who, with false speeches about bringing “economic development” make the land profit only the few, destroy the natural wealth of the locality, violate indigenous peoples and massacre the working class that migrates in search of work, education, housing, health, transportation and leisure.

What is the fear of the powerful with the permanence of 200 families, including 245 children and adolescents, in cental Araquari?

They fear the organization of the low. In this scenario the 200 families of Jardim das Oliveiras might open windows to build other forms of resistance against all the exploitation that Araquari has been suffering at the hands of the local and international political and economic class.

Therefore, we understand that, even with the little strength we can have in front of the powerful, we are joining forces in the act of solidarity with men, women of all ages, children and adolescents in the occupation.


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