Category Archives: Brazil

The Beautiful Game… England versus MDF

The flags - Brazil, England and MDF

The flags – Brazil, England and MDF

As football fans flocked to the Arena Corinthians football stadium in São Paulo for the England-Uruguay World Cup match on 19 June, another England game was underway in the favela of Vila Prudente.

Played as a football ‘friendly’, the English Supporters’ Club took on our partners in the Movement for the Defence of Favela Residents, MDF.  In every Brazilian city where England played, supporters organised a friendly game like this one against a local team.

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The match in full swing - Vila Prudente, Brazil

The match in full swing

Representing the MDF selection were community organisers, Getúlio, André and Vicente, members of the MDF youth group, volunteers from the youth cultural centre and other local residents.  See if you can spot any familiar faces in the photos!

50 English supporters were there to cheer, along with the mayor of Vila Prudente, Patrícia Saran, and a swarm of enthusiastic Brazilians.  Everyone, including the players and spectators, received a Neymar da Silva Santos and Daniel Sturridge shirt after the game.

The match ended in a 3-3 draw and was played in the true spirit of football, underlying the sport as a game for ordinary people.

Andre, Getulio and Vinnie with the mayor at the end of the match, Vila Prudente, Brazil

Andre, Getulio and Vinnie with the mayor at the end of the match

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“I ask that you continue praying for us”

Nete April 2014

Nete Araujo, Mauá´s community leader, addressing the families who are still facing an eviction threat.

We have received some more news from the Mauá community in Brazil who were facing eviction yesterday, Tuesday, 15 April 2014. The good news is that the eviction order has been suspended for 60 days, until early June, on the grounds that the community did not receive enough warning.

Nete, the community leader, has sent us a message of thanks for our support. Last night, she and about 200 residents from Mauá marched on São Paulo City Hall to urge the government to purchase the building without further delay.  They were met by a spokeswoman, who said the government had promised to make a down payment next week.

According to Nete, the safety objections raised by the fire brigade could still provide leverage to evict the families.  A follow-up inspection has raised even more safety issues, even though a lot of remedial work has been done.  Families are trying to address these issues, which include having fire extinguishers, hand rails and emergency lighting.

Nete´s message for us is:

“I would like to thank you all for your support and for your concern for the families of the Mauá community. Things are not easy at the moment and we have been working hard. Although things sometimes seem impossible, when the cause is right, we get strength from knowing we are on the right course. I believe in God first of all. I ask that you continue praying for us, thinking about us and sending positive thoughts as we remain with hope for a positive solution. Happy Easter to you all. Missing you deeply. Nete”

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Praying for the community of Mauá

 Nete with children in Maua

Nete Araujo, Mauá’s community leader (centre), with children, holding petitions signed by parishioners from England and Wales, campaigning against an earlier eviction threat.

 

Urgent news from the Connect2 community of Mauá in São Paulo, Brazil.

At Christmas, we heard that the São Paulo city government had passed a decree to buy the building and turn it into social housing. This was a moment for celebration. But suddenly, the situation has taken a turn for the worse and now is a make-or-break time for the 237 homeless families who have fought for seven years to make Mauá their permanent home.

Tuesday 15 April is the key date. We ask you to pray for the families as their long struggle reaches its final conclusion.

The story is this:

The city government has pledged to buy the building and turn it into permanent housing for the families. But a local judge has re-issued an eviction order, this time based on a health and safety report by the fire brigade who considered the building unsafe. The date for the eviction is 15 April. Potentially, all 237 families – including the elderly, sick and children – could be forced out on to the streets. The city government needs to push through the compulsory purchase before 15 April in order to halt the eviction. The community are working hard with the city government to achieve this. Here is a message to us from Nete, Mauá’s coordinator and from Osmar, an ally within the city government.

Nete says:

“We are working to remedy the problems identified by the Fire Brigade – buying fire extinguishers, re-wiring and making other repairs. The City Council has yet to make the expropriation payment. They proposed doing this on the 15 April, the day that is marked for eviction. But as a community, we protested and now they have said they will do it in two weeks. We hope to celebrate soon!

Osmar says:

“We are working hard and campaigning to ensure that the city government fulfils its promise of expropriating and purchasing the Mauá building by the next weeks. This will suspend the 15 April eviction order and finally guarantee that the building will be refurbished and converted into social housing. This moment is a unique opportunity.

God willing, Mauá will be converted into a beautiful place where low-income families can live permanently.  We believe this change is possible. We believe that with the ongoing work we are doing here, and your partnership and support via communities, we will ensure this victory and fulfil the dream of hundreds of families.

We would like to thank you for your support, which is helping to improve the lives of families and fulfil their dreams of having a decent home and roof over their heads. Together we are creating a better world for those who have struggled and are suffering.”

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A harvest of candyfloss at St George’s

St G facebook

E-editors at CAFOD’s Romero House

Hello, we are from St George Catholic College, Southampton and we took part in the ‘harvest of talents’ project. We had a good time and would love to do it again. Continue reading

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“Running in pursuit of life”: Laisa’s story

“I believe that each individual barrier that we overcome is a reason for being and feeling proud. I realised that I spent last year running for fear of death. But today I am running in pursuit of life. In 2012, I was afraid of death, I was afraid that at any moment I would be defeated by a hit man. On 31 December I was so relieved that I managed to stay alive. In 2013, I am running in search of life.”

Laisa has received death threats because she is proptesting about illegal logging.

Laisa has received death threats because she is proptesting about illegal logging.

Laísa Santos Sampaio is an environmental activist who lives in the state of Pará, one of the most violent states in Brazil. Her sister Maria and brother-in-law José Cláudio were killed in 2011 for campaigning against illegal logging in the Amazon.

Since then, only Laísa remains with her family, defending her land and taking on the cause of her sister and brother-in-law.  As a result, she has been facing extremely serious death threats in the aftermath of these murders, and has been living every day in fear of losing her life.

Women have been increasingly threatened and killed by loggers, ranchers and farmers for protecting the environment and fighting for land rights for rural workers in the state of Pará. And the number of women targeted is on the rise.

Dorothy Stang, an American environmental activist, was violently killed in 2005 in Pará, and in September 2013 the rancher who ordered her murder was finally condemned to 30 years imprisonment after a long legal process with high international profile. However the hitman who killed her only served three years of his 27 years’ prison sentence.

Let’s stop the violence and injustice. Speak out with us today>>

Where cases do not receive the same international coverage, women continue to live under death threat with little, delayed or no protection from the Brazilian state or recourse to justice. CAFOD’s partner, CPT (Pastoral Land Commission) is one of the few organisations that campaigns for the protection and justice for victims of violence related to land rights and environmental protection in Pará.

In May this year, the two hit men hired to kill Laísa’s  sister and brother-in-law were convicted with imprisonment,  but the person who allegedly ordered the murders was freed due to insufficient evidence. He and his family have returned to their plot of land, next to where Laísa and her family live.

She says: “You spend your life fighting for justice and when you expect justice to be done, this is what happened. If I could paint days, I would paint that one black as that was a day of real mourning for me. But I thought to myself: “You are not going to run from what is happening”. Even if there is danger, we need to believe that we are going to succeed in the end. But change, in the context of political justice, is very difficult indeed.”

CPT has been supporting Laísa’s case during the murder trial and campaigned for her inclusion in the Federal Programme for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. They’ve also been providing agricultural training to help Laísa continue the work of the Female Group of Artisanal Workers set up by Laísa’s sister, Maria. The group works to protect the forest and enables women living in the encampment to earn an income.

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After Maria’s murder, the group of women disintegrated due to fear for their own lives and the psychological and financial impacts of their association with Maria and Laísa. But with CAFOD’s support the group has restarted, and is now extracting natural oils from native forest trees to produce and sell natural remedies. CPT are also undertaking a project in the region to help families access their land rights and to lobby for socially and environmentally just policies.

Laísa hopes that she has inspired others to stand up against injustice. “If I cannot be physically present in an event, debate or fighting for a cause, I can be in the minds of the people who met me and for whom I made a difference”.

Join us during these 16 days in solidarity with courageous women like Laísa as we give, act and pray for an end to violence against women>>

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