People’s movements take to the streets against evictions throughout Brazil

The Zero Evictions Campaign is calling for demonstrations in cities throughout the country in observance of the Housing for Life day of action

March 16, 2022 by Landless Rural Workers' Movement
From a protest against evictions. Photo: Sérgio Maranhão/Acervo MST

Brazilians will be taking to the streets across of the country this Thursday March 17 to fight for the extension of the eviction moratorium, ADPF no. 828. The Housing for Life day of action was called for by the Campaign for Zero Evictions. The moratorium which they want extended has protected thousands of urban and rural families from removals and evictions.

Actions are being organized in several of Brazil’s major cities in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Tocantins, Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo and Brasília, and others. 

The ADPF itself was the product of the struggle of people’s movements and coalitions. In June 2021 the Federal Supreme Court (STF) granted the moratorium, suspending evictions and removals for six months. The STF then extended the ADPF to March of this year.

According to Ana Moraes, from a national coordinator of the MST, Brazil is at a crossroads: “The eviction moratorium expires on March 31, 2022, but the most vulnerable Brazilians continue to suffer through multiple crises. The people of Brazil are experiencing rising inflation, unemployment, hunger, and unequal access to vaccines and the human right to health, “all this in a context of the total absence of public policies.”

“Although in December the STF demanded that the National Congress act on a need to extend the eviction moratorium, this did not happen, given the congressional recess and a conservative political environment linked to agribusiness interests. Therefore, the Zero Evictions Campaign pleads with the STF to extend the moratorium, to guarantee the human rights to health, life, and housing in urban and rural communities,” Moraes said. 

MST for Zero Evictions

In rural areas, more than 200 Landless Workers Movement (MST) areas could face eviction if the moratorium expires, directly impacting the lives of 30,000 peasant families. In an interview with Página do Movimento, Kelli Mafort, also an MST coordinator, declared that evictions are an injustice, and that in the Bolsonaro government, evictions serve the interests of capital, agribusiness, mining, and real estate speculation. 

In agreement with Mafort, Ana Moraes declares that for the MST, eviction at any time is a human rights violation. The MST tactic of directly occupying land only exists because living, planting, and eating is a privilege, not a right.

“For us, the occupation is a legitimate struggle of peoples and cannot be criminalized. However, eviction in the pandemic is an inhumane act, even more so with the deepening social crisis in the country. Tens of thousands of families will be affected in the countryside, with approximately 20,000 children up to 12 years old. This is very serious,” Moraes said.

For Moraes, it is also necessary to denounce the “true invaders”, who are “the agribusiness and mining corporations that are invading peasant, Indigenous and quilombola territories, through cooptation and violence, to normalize land grabbing, make environmental licensing more flexible, expand the use of agrotoxins and loosen regulations on mining.”

At least 132,000 Brazilian families are threatened with eviction

Since March 2020, when the World Health Organization (WHO) first announced the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation measures, the threats of removals and evictions increased. These threats made it impossible to implement the health security measures prescribed by the WHO and emphasized by Brazil’s own Ministry of Health.

The political and social crisis in the country has deepened existing inequalities. Hunger, poverty and unemployment are the reality for the majority of the population and the instability and insecurity generated by the new coronavirus variants has worsened the living conditions of thousands of families.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) the total number of Brazilians who suffer from hunger has grown by three million in the last five years. Urban and social inequality has deepened. The organizations that make up the Zero Evictions Campaign point out that it is the duty of the public authorities to guarantee the life and safety of the population. 

The new balance sheet released by the Zero Evictions Campaign reveals a shocking reality: more than 132,290 families are threatened with eviction in Brazil. This data represents a 602% increase in the number of families threatened with eviction since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

As a result of crises, removals and evictions, the number of homeless people has skyrocketed in recent years. Many other Brazilians live precariously under the threat of homelessness. According to a survey by the State Movement of the Homeless in São Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil, it shows that the number of homeless people has grown almost three times from 2019 to the present day, to over 66,000 people.

*Edited by Lays Furtado