Published on 19 Jun 2014 Sections , ,

Brazil 2014… as seen from Sao Paulo’s ‘tent city’

Latin America Correspondent

The first time I came to Sao Paulo over a decade ago, I was struck by the cost of living in comparison to the rest of the region.

World Cup HomelessGuillermo Galdos meets the homeless of BrazilGuillermo Galdos stood at the kitchen which serves over 100 people at a camp for homeless people in Sâo Paulo height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMYoung people queue up for lunch which is served twice a day.height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMThe camp is run by its residents, who cook and feed each other. height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMThe People’s Cup Occupation began over a month ago when 1,000 families set up camp on this wasteland. height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMThree families live in this house made of plastic sheeting and sticks. height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMThere are now 4,000 families living here. height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMDaniel De Souza has been here since the first day. He used to be a bricklayer, but lost his job. height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMThe Brazilian government has promised to build 2,000 homes for the people that live here after major protests. height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMThousands of families live here with no electricity or running water. height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMGraffiti on the walls near the camp read “The whole cup should have been for the people.”height 768width 1024orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop Elemoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AM

Click on the arrows above, bottom right, to see photos from Gino Amadori Arias

It was much more expensive than any other South American city. Today, thanks to the World Cup the prices are even higher, and as a direct result thousands of Brazilians have been left homeless.

I don’t even have electricity to watch a match on TV Edmilson

I came to visit the newest occupation by the Homeless People’s Movement (MST) in Sao Paulo. This “tent city” calls itself the ‘Copa de Povo’ or People’s Cup and lies less than two kilometres away from the newly built Itaquera World Cup stadium.

The movement runs five camps like this one and house around 20,000 families in Sao Paulo alone.

There, I met Edmilson, an unemployed brick layer in his early 40s.

“I am not against the World Cup but we occupied this land to protest the £300m the government paid for the stadium. Why is that they don’t spend the money on the people who really need it? I don’t even have electricity to watch a match on TV.”

Edmilson lives with his wife and his newborn baby Sofia in a tiny shack made from plastic bags. He shares the space with another two families and six more children. Without running water or sewage this place is a cradle for diseases.

Inequality

Sao Paulo is not only one of the most expensive cities in South America, it’s also one of the most unequal. While I walk around the labyrinth of makeshift houses at Copa du Povo I can hear the corporate helicopters roving over us.

I really hope to have a house soon. Edmilson

The rich in here don’t have time to be stuck in traffic jams.

The number of billionaires have rocketed. Even though the gap between rich and poor has shrunk in the last decade, more than 15 percent of Brazilians still survive on less than £1 a day, that’s around 25 million people.

2,000 houses

The MST have been at the forefront of the protests against the World Cup. They are angry that the whole world is coming to party in Brazil for the tournament, when their lives worsened as a direct consequence of it.

But not all is bad for the homeless in Sao Paulo. The government of Dilma Roussef has promised to build 2,000 new homes in the wasteland that Edmilson and the other 4,000 families occupied.

“I hope that the government is not only promising that because they don’t want us to protest during the World Cup,” he told me. “I really hope to have a house soon.”

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