Victory for Olympic displaced despite Rio's 'biggest eviction cycle'

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Rio residents evicted to make room for Olympics
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Rio residents evicted to make room for Olympics
The house of Carlos Augusto and Sandra Regina (not pictured) who have lived in Vila Autodromo slum for 20 years with their children, is demolished after the family moved to one of the twenty houses built for the residents who refused to leave the community, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2, 2016. Picture taken August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Children play in the Vila Autodromo slum, next to the 2016 Rio Olympic Park, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 29, 2016. Picture taken July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Municipal guards observe the demolition of a house in the Vila Autodromo community, surrounded by construction work for the Rio 2016 Olympic Park, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes /File photo SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Children play soccer in the Vila Autodromo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File photo SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Wanderson Augusto, who has lived in Vila Autodromo slum for 20 years, holds his cats before his house gets demolished, after moving to one of the twenty houses built for the residents who refused to leave the community, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2, 2016. Picture taken August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Partially demolished houses stand in the Vila Autodromo slum with the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in the background in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File photo SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Marcia Lemos, 57, walks by a pool in her house, with cranes and construction work for the Rio 2016 Olympic Park seen in the background, at the Vila Autodromo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, January 28, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File photo SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
An aerial view shows twenty houses (foreground) built for residents who refused to leave the Vila Autodromo community, and the 2016 Rio Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 16, 2016. Picture taken July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
An aerial view shows the Vila Autodromo slum (foreground) next to the 2016 Rio Olympic Park construction site in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 27, 2014. Picture taken June 27, 2014. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A combination picture shows an aerial view of the Vila Autodromo slum next to the 2016 Rio Olympic Park construction site, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil June 27, 2014 (top) and the same view with twenty houses built for the residents who refused to leave the Vila Autodromo community July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Marcio Moza sits in the debris of his just-demolished house in the Vila Autodromo community surrounded by construction work for the Rio 2016 Olympic Park, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File photo SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Marcia Lemos, 58, who has lived in the Vila Autodromo slum for 13 years, hugs a tree at the site of her former house during a visit to the community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 28, 2016. Picture taken July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Partially demolished houses are seen in the Vila Autodromo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File photo SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Former resident of the Vila Autodromo slum Marcia Lemos (L) is greeted by Sandra Regina (C) and Maria da Penha during a visit to the community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 28, 2016. Picture taken July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Jose Gomes, 65, who has lived in the Vila Autodromo slum for 35 years, poses outside his house in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 13, 2015. Picture taken August 13, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Jose Gomes, 65, who has lived in the Vila Autodromo slum for 35 years, poses outside his new house which is one of the twenty houses built for the residents who refused to leave the community, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil July 31, 2016. Picture taken July 31, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A man rides a bicycle next to a wall with graffiti depicting Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho in Vila Autodromo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File photo SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
An aerial view shows twenty houses built for the residents who refused to leave the Vila Autodromo community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 16, 2016. Picture taken July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Residents of the Vila Autodromo slum attend a mass at a Catholic church, the only original building that will not be demolished in the slum, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 31, 2016. Picture taken July 31, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Sandra Regina, 53, who has lived in the Vila Autodromo slum for 20 years with her children, plays with a ball as the family moves to one of the twenty houses built for the residents who refused to leave the community, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 1, 2016. Picture taken August 1, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Maria da Penha, 50, who has lived in Vila Autodromo slum for 23 years, poses outside her new house which is one of the twenty houses built for the residents who refused to leave the community, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 29, 2016. Picture taken July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A Catholic church (L), the only original building in the Vila Autodromo slum that will not be demolished, stands next to the houses built for residents who refused to leave the community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 26, 2016. Picture taken July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Carlos Augusto (L), who has lived in the Vila Autodromo slum for 20 years, reacts as his house is being demolished after he moved to one of the twenty houses built for the residents who refused to leave the community, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2, 2016. Picture taken August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Luis Claudio, who has lived in the Vila Autodromo slum for 23 years, attends a mass at a Catholic church, the only original building that will not be demolished in the community, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 31, 2016. Picture taken July 31, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A painting which reads: "It is messy but it is ours," hangs on a wall in a house in Vila Autodromo slum, where Carlos Augusto and Sandra Regina (not pictured) have lived for 20 years with their children, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 1, 2016. Picture taken August 1, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes SEARCH "VILA AUTODROMO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Wedged between a plush new hotel, a series of motorways and the Olympic athletes' village in Rio de Janeiro, a scattering of newly-built whitewashed houses now mark the area that was once the thriving fishing community of Vila Autodromo.

As residents moved into their new homes on Wednesday, there were mixed feelings about the latest twist in a long battle for land that has seen the community shrink from some 600 families to 20 who resisted the city's plans to move them on.

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Summer Olympics

The community off a main avenue in a wealthy beachside suburb became a symbol of resistance and drew international media interest in the families who refused compensation to leave the area to make way for a road to the Olympic Park.

It even became the subject of a documentary film, The Fighter, funded by child rights' charity Terre des Hommes and seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl, Naomy.

The media was still watching as residents inspected the new bungalows that replace half-demolished homes covered in graffiti that had become some of last traces of the community before the city agreed in April to let a few families stay.

See photos of Rio's 'uninhabitable' Olympic village:

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'Uninhabitable' Olympic Village in Rio
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'Uninhabitable' Olympic Village in Rio
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 25: Preparations continue at the Olympic athletes' village, including the building that will house the Australian team, on July 25, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
View of an athlete's room at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
An apartment at the Olympic Village is pictured during a media visit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes
View of an athlete's room at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 23: The kitchen and living room of one of the units within the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The Village will host up to 17,200 people amongst athletes and team officials during the Games and up to 6,000 during the Paralympic Games on July 22, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 23: A bedroom of one of the units within the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The Village will host up to 17,200 people amongst athletes and team officials during the Games and up to 6,000 during the Paralympic Games on July 22, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 23: A bathroom of one of the units within the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The Village will host up to 17,200 people amongst athletes and team officials during the Games and up to 6,000 during the Paralympic Games on July 22, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
View of balconies of the Finnish team's apartments at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of the cafeteria at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
View of the Fitness Center at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 23: A general view of the fisiotherapy room of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games displaying the Olympic Rings in Barra da Tijuca. The Village will host up to 17,200 people amongst athletes and team officials during the Games and up to 6,000 during the Paralympic Games on July 22, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 23: Details of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Barra da Tijuca. The Village will host up to 17,200 people amongst athletes and team officials during the Games and up to 6,000 during the Paralympic Games on July 22, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 23: A general view of the medical room of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games displaying the Olympic Rings in Barra da Tijuca. The Village will host up to 17,200 people amongst athletes and team officials during the Games and up to 6,000 during the Paralympic Games on July 22, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
View of a cryotherapy room at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 23: A condoms' distribution machine at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games displaying the Olympic Rings in Barra da Tijuca. The Village will host up to 17,200 people amongst athletes and team officials during the Games and up to 6,000 during the Paralympic Games on July 22, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
The Olympic symbol is seen at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Footprints of Vinicius, the Olympic mascot, are seen at the entrance of the cafeteria of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A room of a polyclinic is seen during a guided tour for journalists to the 2016 Rio Olympics Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
A view of the Olympic Village is pictured during a media visit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes
General view of athletes' accommodation can be seen during a guided tour for journalists to the 2016 Rio Olympics Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
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The outcome has been hailed as a partial victory for the community even though most of the 3,000 people who once lived there have left to make way for the Olympic Park. Some residents regret agreeing to leave and displacement has continued elsewhere in Rio.

"The Olympics have led to the biggest eviction cycle in the city's history. People have stress and tension associated with the threats," Theresa Williamson, director of advocacy group Catalytic Communities, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

She said the city would not have got away with the evictions were it not for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Many former residents of Vila Autodromo now live in other parts of the city or are scattered among housing projects which land rights campaigners see as a symbol of the large-scale displacement linked to the Olympics, which open on August 5.

"We were like a big family here," said Terezinha Costa Martins, 58, a former Vila Autodromo resident who had to move to Jacarepagua in western Rio.

"They (government officials) said our houses were visual pollution. My land became a roadway. No-one here is happy," Martins told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Since 2009, more than 75,000 people have been relocated from their homes as a result of the Olympics and other major sports projects, including the 2014 World Cup, according to the latest available data from Rio de Janeiro's City Council.

The authorities have helped most residents find new accommodation, said Ruth Jurberg, an official with Rio de Janeiro's state government who works on housing issues.

"We can say that we did 99 percent of the resettlements without any problem," Jurberg said in an email to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

After a Rio neighborhood is demolished for the Olympic Park, residents try to move on

"MY HOUSE, MY LIFE"

Many Rio residents who had to leave their homes because of Olympics infrastructure projects moved to government-subsidized developments built under the "My House, My Life" program, where they can own affordable apartments, Jurberg said.

Other residents received compensation from the state and bought their houses elsewhere, she added.

But, unlike residents of other favelas, or informal settlements, that are home to more than 20 percent of the city's population, many residents of Vila Autodromo had property titles - granted to them during a long struggle for land rights.

Prior to the urbanization, buildings in Vila Autodromo had ranged from cinder block houses to well-built homes next to the Jacarepaguá lagoon.

Saleswoman Marcia Lemos owned a house with a swimming pool and fruit trees.

"I resisted [moving out] until October, when I was forced to leave," Lemos told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

She now lives in a small rented apartment in western Rio with her two children and is locked in a battle with government authorities over how much compensation she will receive.

The government has offered 900,000 reais ($275,500) for her 700 square meter brick home. She says it is worth more than 1.2 million reais ($367,320).

"Because I resisted the eviction, they are offering less," she said. "Some people think we are expendable."

LEGAL PROTECTION

The fact that many residents of Vila Autodromo formally owned their homes makes their eviction particularly galling for housing campaigners who regard title deeds for the poor as a form of protection against displacement.

"We were given titles in 1994 - we thought we had legal protection," former resident Delmo Oliveira, 51, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Oliveira lived in Vila Autodromo for 30 years. When he was evicted, he had to close the shop he owned and make his six employees redundant.

Now Oliveira lives in Barra de Guarabita, about 40 km (25 miles) away from Vila Autodromo.

Rio faces a deficit of 700,000 affordable homes for the working poor, Oliveira said. He believes that destroying Vila Autodromo and moving many of its residents into public housing was a bad use of resources.

Telecommunications operator Marcio de Jesus Moza, 36, is one of the former Vila Autodromo residents who moved into government housing after his home was demolished.

He is living in the Carioca Park housing complex about 7 km away from Vila Autodromo.

"Lots of other people displaced for the Olympics live there too," Moza told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Vila Autodromo became an example for other communities who have gone through the same things."

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