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The Brazilian dream?

July 09 2014
Paulo Ito's mural expresses the concern that the World Cup won't feed the starving Paulo Ito's mural expresses the concern that the World Cup won't feed the starving
More than 250k people moved to make way for the World Cup

The FIFA World Cup hasn’t gone to plan for the England team and they’ve had to head for home. Soon, though, the Premiere League will start again and all those bitter memories will be quickly forgotten.

But for many Brazilians the memories of the World Cup 2014 are likely to be more lasting; according to Al Jazeera, over a quarter of a million people have been forcibly removed from their homes in order to make way for construction work for the tournament.

Some were just given five days' notice of eviction before entire neighbourhoods were raised to the ground, forcing their residents onto the streets. In many of these cases, little (if any) compensation was offered.

Sirius-XM sportswriter Dave Zirin recently highlighted the situation. Writing in Democracy Now, he said 700 families living near the newly-built ‘Favela do Metro’ stadium had their homes "knocked to the ground" by the government to make way for a car park.

However, up to now, construction on the car park has not even begun. “It’s an absolute calamity,” he said. “You see little pieces of what used to be people’s homes, broken dolls, furniture, all the rest of it".

It has been reported that the Brazilian government has spent over £6 billion to host the World Cup. Many people angry that so much money has been spent on the international event, while spending on healthcare and education remains low and the number of people now homeless is rising.

According to a report by the World Bank in 2012, nearly 16 per cent of Brazil’s population live below the poverty line and a total of 1.8 million Brazilians are forced to sleep on the streets every night.

In the lead-up to the 12 June, the opening date of the World Cup, thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the high costs of the tournament.

In one protest, just 24 hours before the tournament’s opening ceremony, several thousand members of the Homeless Workers Movement blocked one of Sao Paulo’s main roads to demand increased spending on low-cost housing in the city.

The Homeless Workers Movement is a force to be reckoned with in urban Brazil, where it stages squatters occupations in the vast number of abandoned buildings in Brazilian cities. The organisation claims there are over five million empty housing units across the country.

Activist Danilo Cajazeira told CBS News: "People are losing their houses, they are losing their lives, and in the end we are not even able to watch the games."

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has defended the government’s decision to host the FIFA World Cup, claiming that the investments made in stadiums and airports as well as other infrastructure will provide the country with benefits in the long term.

Rousseff may be right in her forecast: the heavy investment in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, for example, resulted in significant urban improvements.

However, given that over one in three children in Brazil die of malnourishment before the age of five, the wait for the ‘long term’ benefits may be a wait too long for many citizens of this poverty-stricken country.