São Paulo has been an important stage of protests as many other capitals in Brazil and occupation movements around the world. What people may not have questioned is how Brazilian populations live in their metropolitan areas. Segregation, exclusion and limits of geographical separation are some negative principles of our centre-periphery model of development that we face in our daily lives. However, the most astonishing affirmation is probably the fashion we learnt and naturalized inequality. It is not a case of political laziness of the poor or the lack of law, but the opposite. Legal texts and documents are produced excessively and go with the flow in a historical manner of legalizing contrasts. The State violently supports under its supposed legitimate use of force our uncountable socioeconomic and urban differences.
One situation is the hygienic urbanization project in Rio de Janeiro with Pereira Passos’ city reform in 1903 that provoked the Revolta da Vacina – Vaccine Revolt. People refused to act in favour of State sanitary actions and did not accept the potestas protection. The outburst of the excluded erupted from the borders and it was much like sensible. How could the municipal public administration be compassionate with those it had been expelled to the fringes of the new Republican marvellous city? The recent fact is the Brazilian protests and the discontentment sensation the international community witnessed last year in June. It was not only because few cents more in the bus tickets, but disappointment and dissatisfaction with our city model of developments. This is more evident when the peripheral youth appeared claiming their rights to come and go – a constitutional principle, in shopping centres in a flash mob style. The young energy occupied the private premises and sang their funk tunes in commercial areas designed for middle-class gaudy consumers. The youth concentrations were called rolezinhos and they woke up the city once more. Last week, the Guarani natives fortunately appeared to give their contribution. First and foremost, the city was not invaded, because they still live there.
Source: Folha de S. Paulo online
The fathers of land showed off to say much more they exist. They have been irresponsibly treated by the public power and administrations even under their constitutional rights of living in protected areas. Ñandeva, Kaiowá and Mbya are some of the coloured communities that resist in Latin America to keep their ethnicities. The biggest concentration of all is in Bolivia, followed by Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. In Brazil, the population is around fifty three thousand citizens. According to the last 2010 census published by the Brazilian federal institute of statistics – Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), there are 41.794 natives in the country and 37.915 live in the cities. The Guarani want to change the place where they are by changing themselves as David Harvey has already re-phrased in his article The Right to the City, New Left Review, Number 53. The natives vindicate the making out of limits between their collective lands and the supposed white city. We must say that it is not the excluded afro-descendants and their white similar socioeconomic neighbours the enemies of the Guarani. The violent local and federal State representatives are the bad boys in the Brazilian republic. The political system and the status quo work legally in order to favour housing entrepreneurship, property and direct investment. This is something interesting people in Brazil and outside should pay attention. The order economic growth is only feasible, because the capital flows and the public debts paid.
It is not an absurd to affirm that the historical native demand has meant in our society the most unheard claim for equality. They are the first to teach us the right to land and, consequently, what we call today the right to the common interest. It is a response and a brave sensitive observation to the fact the city geographically expands without including or giving them the minimum means of subsistence. The city economically swells in physical proportions, but the logic of centre-periphery reinforced. It is like a pie getting bigger and its borders must be redefined. So, the outsiders are always being driving out the city. São Paulo is the map of a totality full of contradictions, contrasts and paradoxical reality.
The map above shows how the physical separation operates. The yellow dots point the periphery in expansion. The green areas in the extreme north-south are where the nature and the natives, respectively, should live with no despair. The Guarani natives know if they only have a formal document, they will not take over the control of their own communities. Covenants are seen by them as an elitist trap. This is why the fight to assume the administrative control of their lives. Should we name a very interesting Hobbesian effort what they have made? Or who are the main indirect expropriators of the natives, peripheral youth and working-low-salary classes?
The upper-class citizens are the ones who had access to 50% of the new houses constructed in Brazil and construction marked in expansion. According to Raquel Rolnik in an article written for Le Monde Diplomatique Brasil, Portuguese version, the logic of segregation and the geographical exclusion have to do with the system of housing supply. One can pay more is the same who will suffer less under a strong idealogically liberal discourse of freedom. Based on the report produced by federal government Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílio (PNAD) in 2008, Brazil has 7.542 millions of unoccupied houses. Seventy-two percent of them are in urban areas and contrast with the increasing number of “favelas”. From the IBGE census in 1990 to the last one concluded in 2010, the number of slums doubled in Brazil. As the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics points out, the quantity of “subnormal housings”, which means “favelas”, grew enormously from 3.183 to 6.326. All capitals in the country have slums and naturalized them as part of our economic development. The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem-Teto (Roofless Labourers Movement) has tried to change the contrastive reality.
Source: Folha de S. Paulo online
The Guarani natives are aware of this unequal model of growth as the young protesters on the street in June 2013. It is not the World Cup in itself. It is not only for few coins to have paid the bus tickets. It is not a herd of barbarians coming from the outskirts of the city to show their coloured faces to the civilization for fun. It has been for the scandal of facing a city development and public administration based on unrepresentative democracy. It has been for the exploitation of young people being impeded of educational inclusion, because they have geographical and economic mobility restrictions. It is, because parents leave their homes in the morning to come back only after the sunset. It has been the disproportional material and effective application of the social function of property dispositive. It has to do with the ideological normative thought capturing Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city.
Cover Picture: ©Nelson Antoine/Associated Press