On Thursday, April 12, 2018, both the Residents’ Commission and Residents’ Association of Indiana came together to hold their Second Annual Forum in the auditorium of the São Joaquim Foundation, in Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone neighborhood of Tijuca. Over 35 people were present at the meeting, including Indiana residents and community leaders, residents from surrounding favelas, activists, and representatives from civil society organizations such as the Federation of Favela Resident Associations of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FAFERJ), and public institutions including the Land and Cartography Institute of the State of Rio de Janeiro (ITERJ).
The purpose of the Forum was two-fold. First, to inform attendees of the ongoing forces of gentrification, removal, and dispossession taking place in Indiana and in favelas across Rio, and to celebrate the community’s victories. And second, the Residents’ Commission and the Residents’ Association sought to rally together residents, advocates, neighboring favela communities, and partnering organizations in a unified movement for improved living conditions and the right to remain in Indiana.
Over the course of the evening, various speakers were invited to the podium to share insights, concerns, and observations. Multiple people spoke of Indiana as a vibrant and necessary community in Rio de Janeiro. Others spoke more broadly about the impacts of gentrification and condemned the eviction tactics practiced upon Indiana and other favela communities. Still others drew upon lessons from the recent assassination of councilwoman Marielle Franco and encouraged strength and resiliency within the broader collective of favela communities in the city. And many more spoke about or alluded to the importance of solidarity—within Indiana itself and between the community and committed partners—as an integral element to the fight against eviction.
One speaker summarized the importance of community solidarity well:
“Unity is like matchsticks. It’s easy to catch a single matchstick, but it’s much harder to catch all the falling matches from a boxful of matchsticks. Similarly, if you try to bend 10 or 15 matches, you will not be able to break it. And maybe this is what we want: unity. We are all fighting for the same thing. I have seen people, complete strangers, joining each other to become stronger [in the fight against eviction]. As a result, I believe better days will come to the community. Together, we are stronger!”
In an interview with RioOnWatch following the Forum, Residents’ Commission member Inês Ferreira de Abreu Deodoro expressed a similar sentiment:
“The idea of the Forum is to inform and showcase the challenges and the triumphs of the community. It is difficult to address these challenges when the threat of eviction is knocking on our door and public authorities remain absent from these meetings. However, we have also noticed that new people sharing similar concerns, such as shop owners, have begun joining forces with Indiana residents.”
The next Indiana Tijuca Forum is slated to take place sometime in 2019. Deodoro hopes that representatives from the City, state, and many more residents will attend the event next year. In the meantime, the Residents’ Commission and Residents’ Association of Indiana hope the Forum will foster deeper conversations about what is happening in Indiana and push many more residents to get involved with the fight against evictions.