Prestes Maia, the fight for rights

Prestes Maia, the building today, a sad look
where do we go? please, listen
originally uploaded by Tatiana Cardeal
All photographs © 2006.

Prestes Maia, is a colossal abandoned clothes factory that towers over central Sao Paulo, and the biggest occupation of Latin America, with 22 storeys in total, is home to 468 families; around 2,000 people from the MSTC - Movimento dos Sem Teto do Centro (Downtown Homeless People's Movement).

The community is meticulously organised and removed 200 lorry loads of rubbish and 1.500 cubic meters of sewerage from the building’s ground floor, together with all the rest, bestowing upon it the social function of a domicile as determined by the Federal Constitution.
They had organized the cleanning maintenance, the security, they had banned all the traffic of drugs and crimes from the building, making it a familiar place full of activities. The created a library, recycling program, and cultural activities with artists and partners.

The owners of the building, Jorge Hamuche and Eduardo Amorim, who do not possess the title deed, abandoned the building for twenty years and owe close to BRL$5 million (EUR$1.8 million) in taxes.
But, an injunction has been issued for the repossession of the building.
The judge of the 25th Civil Jurisdiction of Sao Paulo granted an injunction for the repossession of the property, ignoring the residential rights of the occupants and even a UN report that declares; "the municipal government of Sao Paulo, through the Secretary of Habitation and Urban Development and COHAB, should promote the renovation of the Prestes Maia building for housing and social interests, to meet the objective of the dispossession of the building by the municipality."

The authorities didn't plan a project to remove everybody, and we know that they will return to live at the streets. We are trying to stop this, and to pressure the state governor Geraldo Alckmin and the mayor from the city José Serra, to make first a project, and then remove the families.

I've created a new set to publish the pictures of the development of this story, called "Where do we go?", and a Flickr's community to support them, "The Prestes Maia Hope", with an online petition to be signed (there is a translation of the text for english and french), and much more details about this story.
Please join us.

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