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History repeats itself

 OCAS (Brazil) 04 May 2019

Decades pass by, but the treatment that homeless people receive from the government has failed to progress. For those who live on the streets, extermination, threat of expulsion, or the offer of a bus ticket to leave the city is the reality. (461 Words) - By Mariana Schreiber and Luciano Rocco

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 Photo courtesy of OCAS

In Rio de Janeiro, operations to take homeless people off the streets are criticised


Decades pass by, but the treatment that homeless people receive from the government is not much different from what they have received in the past. History repeats itself: for those who live on the streets, the reality is extermination, threat of expulsion, or the offer of a bus ticket to leave the city.

OCAS interviewed a homeless couple, Claudia and Artur (fictitious names), in the city centre of Rio de Janeiro two years ago - Arthur says that they have been harassed several times by the 'Operacao Choque de Ordem' (Operation Shock of Order), undertaken by the current administration of Rio de Janeiro.

"They approach us with no respect, and they beat on us. We are on the streets not because we want to, but because we only get occasional jobs, and it is difficult to get a proper job while you are homeless." Artur and Claudia say they are often woken up at dawn by the agents, surrounding them like savage animals, and taken to the Central of Adults and Families. All of this hassle just to take their names, dates of birth and then let them walk back to the streets. They also illustrate that during this operation the agents take the homeless people's belongings, throw them into a truck and take off.

Interviewed by OCAS, the city hall's secretariat responsible for "Choque de Ordem" denied all of this information, and affirmed that their agents are instructed to treat these people with full respect, and that the sole purpose of "Choque de Ordem" is to curb the city's homeless population. However, research on news sites and on the city hall's website confirm that these operations confiscate belongings of the homeless population and have the police's participation.

Marcia Gatto, who coordinates the River Child Network, worries that the future events in Rio, as the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, will cause further rise of displacements. She recalls that it was common the extermination of homeless youngsters at the time of completion of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio (Eco-92).

The Municipal Secretary of Social Welfare, Fernando William, says the government is investing R$ 26 million to create more 500 places in shelters and to provide care staff training for the homeless people.

During interviews over the phone the secretary has repeatedly called those who criticize the actions of the "Choque de Ordem" hypocrites, because these same people also complain when they have someone living on their street. He also says that a firm approach is required, as some people living on the streets have involvement with crime, and so they react with violence to the operation.

Please credit article as follows:

Originally published by OCAS (Brazil). © www.streetnewsservice.org

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