Sao Paulo police evict homeless squatters on Volkswagen land

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Fri Aug 8 11:53:58 MDT 2003

My read on this is that the attack on the pensions of the public
employees and the bitter split between them and the Workers Party
government that inevitably resulted, is emboldening the bourgeoisie to
attack the social movements and heighten the pressure on the
government to go along. We may also  see this reflected in the
struggle for land,the center of politics in Brazil today.

As I indicated in my comments, there was nothing progressive and much
that was deeply divisive under the existing circumstances in Brazil
about the changes in the pension plans. But I am opposed to writing
off any possibilities for progressive action by President Lula da
Silva and his government on this basis.  The perspective of bringing
down this government TODAY would strengthen, not weaken, the
capitalists and landlords and their political representatives against
the exploited. I responded to the expression "Lula-Traitor" which
arose in the public employees' demonstration and threatens to become a
sort of political slogan among leftists on this side of the Rio
Fred Feldman

Riot police evict hundreds of squatters
Friday, August 1, 2003 Posted: 10:35 AM EDT (1435 GMT)
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- Riot police used tear gas Friday to evict
hundreds of squatters who moved into a vacant hotel two weeks ago amid
a wave of property invasions in South America's largest city.

Police stormed the hotel near Sao Paulo's center at dawn and sprayed
tear gas inside because some of the 200 to 300 squatters resisted and
set a small fire on the roof of the building, said state police Col.
Luiz Claudio Alves.

Alves said no squatters were injured, but leaders of the Workers
Without a Roof Movement that organized the invasion said at least five
of their members suffered unspecified injuries.

Firefighters quickly put out the fire, Alves said.

About 4,000 squatters remain camped out in a shantytown they built on
a 22-hectare (50-acre) lot on the outskirts of Sao Paulo owned by

And thousands more squatters are still occupying two vacant apartment
buildings in Sao Paulo. Hundreds left another shuttered hotel last
week after police threatened to use force to evict them.

The property takeovers in Sao Paulo happened as another group
representing Brazil's landless rural poor has increased its invasions
of rural land owned by ranchers.

In Brazil, about 90 percent its land is owned by just 20 percent of
the country's 170 million people. The poorest 40 percent of the
population hold just 1 percent.

Volkswagen obtained an order allowing riot police to evict the
squatters on the company's land. But the squatters' group, known by
its Portuguese acronym of MTST, got a reprieve this week hours after
the order was approved.

The judge who issued the reprieve wrote that the squatters could be
injured by riot police, and that Volkswagen must provide more proof
that it owns the land. The car maker is appealing the decision.

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