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2020 Elections: What Do Rio’s Mayoral Candidates Plan for the Favelas?

Check out Our Analysis of Each Candidate’s Platform When it Comes to Favelas

Igreja da Penha (Church of Our Lady of Penha) surrounded by Favela Complexos of Penha and Alemão. Photo by: Bento/Coletivo Papo Reto.

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This article is part of a series of articles on Rio de Janeiro’s 2020 municipal elections from a favela perspective.

Amidst the grief of, officially, 12,268 deaths by Covid-19 and 120,802 cases (as of November 6), Rio de Janeiro’s population will go to the polls on November 15 to vote for their mayor in one of the fiercest disputes of the last 20 years. In total, 14 candidates from different parties and ideological denominations—far-right, right, center, left and far-left—are vying for the 4,851,887 votes of registered voters, even amid the pain and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

But what concrete proposals do these candidates’ governing platforms include for favelas? Data Rio, the data platform of the Pereira Passos Institute urban planning agency currently estimates that of the 6,718,903 inhabitants of the city of Rio, 22% live in favelas.

Brazilian Electronic Voting System. Foto por: Fabio Pozzebon/Agência Brasil.

Our analysis of the official policy platforms of the 14 mayoral candidates published by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) reveals that the majority of candidates only speak superficially of the city’s favelas. According to DataRio, the city has 1,018 favelas, with an estimated population of 1,434,975 people.

Favela: Rights and Priorities

Of Rio’s 14 mayoral candidates, six offer governing platforms specifically mentioning and elaborating policies towards favelas, namely: Benedita da Silva (PT), Clarissa Garotinho (PROS), Eduardo Paes (DEM), Luiz Lima (PSL), Paulo Messina (MDB), and Renata Souza (PSOL). However, there are significant differences across each candidate’s platform and their views of favelas. The main differences are in the candidates’ abilities to see the favela as part of the city and as having a right to the city.

Benedita da Silva (PT)

Hailing from Chapéu Mangueira favela in the South Zone—where she lived for 57 years—Benedita da Silva has 38 years of experience in legislative and executive political positions. She defends participatory democracy in her sixty page governing platform, based on sustainable cities and inclusive dialogue with minorities. This aims to contrast with “current government priorities” and instead treat citizens equally, “with special attention to favelas and public housing.” Her platform makes the territorial management of the municipality the backbone of policy development, within the ten areas of focus of her administration, and from a favela perspective.

Mayoral candidate Benedita da Silva in a favela. Photo by: Wagner Silva.

There are over 20 proposals involving ten areas covered by the Municipal Executive Branch. Priorities include: the creation of an emergency job plan that includes city-funded mutirões (collective actions) in different areas; the return of the community-based garbage collection program; combating the criminalization of black and peripheral culture such as funk music and baile funk parties; primary healthcare and routine check-ups; and prioritizing the gradual incorporation of gynecologists, obstetricians, clinicians and pediatricians into Family Health Clinics, integrating professionals and territories.

Her platform also envisions the creation of “Nutrition Spaces” with activities such as the planting of vegetable gardens, public subsidized restaurants, central food supply centers for the surrounding territory, community kitchens, and assisting with basic foodstuffs through a policy of purchasing food from local or regional family farms.

Another goal of her platform is to reform and restructure the Vila Olímpica community sport centers through hiring staffers from within the communities and creating a “Municipal Athletic Grant” for medium- and high-performing athletes within favelas. Also noteworthy in the platform is its microcredit program for housing construction, as well as its stance against the privatization of CEDAE, instead defending universal access to water in favelas.

Clarissa Garotinho (PROS)

The themes of “favelas and communities” are present in Clarissa Garotinho’s 29-page governing platform. On page 24, it lists four priorities related to favelas: resuming the Favela-Bairro upgrading program with its projects for sanitation infrastructure and services, leisure and sports spaces, as well as public facilities and social programs; residents’ access to public services; training for residents on construction guidelines after upgrades; and the prohibition of irregular urban growth, both horizontal and vertical.

Mayoral candidate Clarissa Garotinho. Photo by: Luis Macedo/Câmara dos Deputados.

One of the themes of Garotinho’s platform is “favelas and communities.” The document defends the establishment of offices in favelas with architects, social workers, and community agents, and says irregular construction would be deterred by “using technological resources that allow real-time accompaniment of such movements.”

Garotinho has held several elected positions. She was a Rio de Janeiro city councilor elected in 2009, a Rio de Janeiro state congresswoman elected in 2011, and a federal congresswoman elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. She was also Municipal Secretary for Development, Employment and Innovation between 2017 and 2018 under the government of Marcelo Crivella (Rio’s current mayor).

Eduardo Paes (DEM)

Eduardo Paes was mayor of Rio de Janeiro between 2008 and 2016— during which the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games were held. He has also held several executive public positions in administrations of previous mayors. Paes’ governing platform, on the TSE website, is two pages long and lists twelve central objectives. However, the candidate later published a “Letter of commitment to Rio’s Favelas and Communities.”

Mayoral candidate Eduardo Paes.

In this letter, the candidate makes eight central commitments to favela development. Among the promises is the participation of favela residents in decision-making and in direct dialogue with the mayor and secretaries. The concrete, high-priority proposals for favelas include: resuming the Favela-Bairro program, starting with the favelas with lowest Human Development Index indicators; creating a Favela Municipal Council directly linked to the mayor’s office; and creating a Directorate of Land Regularization of Favelas directly linked to the Secretary of Urbanism and the Favela Municipal Council.

The letter also promises to prioritize reforming Family Clinics, UPAs, Infant Development Spaces and Schools of Tomorrow located within communities and to prioritize creating and rescuing programs that use local labor, such as trash collection, postal services, electrical services, and community vegetable gardens. The candidate also mentions reducing poverty levels by expanding the Cartão Família Carioca program, and prioritizing social investments in poor places so as to improve the quality of public services.

It is worth remembering that the mayoral administration of Eduardo Paes was responsible for 80,000 people evicted from their homes, the largest period of evictions in local history, contributing to more evictions than both the administrations of former mayors Pereira Passos and Carlos Lacerda combined.

Luiz Lima (PSL)

Mayoral candidate Luiz Lima.

The 91 page governing platform proposed by federal congressman Luiz Lima should he be elected mayor pledges to invest in the program Morar Carioca favela upgrading program, with an emphasis on the final phase in Complexo do Alemão. Lima plans to reduce the number of families receiving rental assistance vouchers and increase the number of people with access to public housing by offering home units to those waiting in the line. He plans to upgrade the “Favela of Maré and its margin, on Avenida Brasil,” and license, inspect, plan and contain the irregular growth of favelas.

Martha Rocha (PDT)

Former head of the state of Rio de Janeiro’s Civil Police during the government of Sérgio Cabral, Martha Rocha only has three proposals directly addressing favelas in her 128 page governing platform.

Mayoral candidate Martha Rocha. Photo by: José Cruz/Agência Brasil.

They include: the construction of alternative transportation in Rio’s hills and favelas (ramps, cable cars, etc.); increasing the frequency of garbage collection in the city’s favelas and hills; and investing in upgrading plans in Rio’s favelas that involve expanding available services, including land tenure regularization that “obeys the criteria of occupations that have proven to be time-tested, moderate and peaceful,” saying also that expropriations may occur with the guarantee of tenure rights and indemnities. The program advocates measures to contain the expansion of favelas, especially in situations that pose a risk to environmental protection.

Paulo Messina (MDB)

Paulo Messina is in his third term as city councilor of Rio de Janeiro and published a 212 page governing platform which advocates for increasing public trust in the municipal government. With regards to favelas, Messina—who was the former chief of staff to Marcelo Crivella, the current mayor of Rio—proposes implementing general networks and specific interventions to regulate water supply and sewerage services.

Mayoral candidate Paulo Messina.

The main focus of his platform is the “University in the City,” which aims to promote, analyze and identify ways to create roads and infrastructure for favelas, thus creating and recovering a “presence of City Hall” within communities. It argues for urban interventions in favelas that target mobility, accessibility, and infrastructure. “The settlements were formed through organic occupation,” the platform says. Messina plans to expand the Vilas Olímpicas, creating sports teams in favelas.

Renata Souza (PSOL)

Raised in Nova Holanda, part of the Complexo da Maré favelas in Rio’s North Zone, Renata Souza has 12 years of experience in public legislative positions, including as state congresswoman in Rio de Janeiro for almost two years. The candidate’s governing platform is 127 pages with 25 action areas, and includes a list of “15 proposals to change Rio de Janeiro.” They include 15 areas prioritizing the municipality’s favelas and peripheries, ensuring the right to the favela, like that to the city, for its residents.

Mayoral candidate Renata Souza.

The program calls for the recovery of City Hall funds to reinvest in public programs such as Renda Básica Carioca (basic income for poorer families), and Habita Rio, a housing program to construct 100,000 homes for the homeless or those who live in precarious conditions. She also proposes the creation of Imobiliária Carioca, a public real estate company “that will operate below market rates and take an active role in the real estate dynamics of the city.”

Through the Favela é Cidade program, basic sanitation is considered a priority for favelas, which would also generate jobs. “We are going to invest in water storage and distribution infrastructure to guarantee access to clean water. The favela will have the same supply chain as the rich areas of the city.” The candidate opposes the privatization of CEDAE. Her platform also discusses creating a municipal pact for gender and race equality and another for reducing urban and domestic violence.

Souza’s platform also sets priorities such as: creating the Community Civil Defense Agent Program to guarantee primary care in socio-environmental protection of favelas; conducting a complete review of the community alert and alarm system for heavy rains in the city; developing a map of hydrological risks for all favelas; and creating specific programs for selective waste collection and urban cleaning in favelas that would work with community trash collectors and be integrated with local waste pickers.

The program also proposes the implementation of Technical Assistance policies for Social Interest Housing (ATHIS) under the terms of Municipal Law No. 6.614 / 2019, written by Councilor Marielle Franco, dealing with the urban requalification of favelas, allotments, rural settlements, traditional communities, and consolidated occupations of the city. Furthermore, the candidate proposes to create a program for the construction of low-income housing through joint efforts and self-management, together with the families of local communities and organized civil society entities. Examples of similar such programs include the “One Family, One Lot” program from the Brizola administration, and the “Construction Program through Mutirão and Self-Management” from the Erundina administration.

One… Two or No Proposals for Favelas

View from Manguinhos. Photo by: Edilano Cavalcante.

Eduardo Bandeira de Mello (REDE)

His 58-page governing platform includes favelas in the basic sanitation project, citing the Basic Sanitation Fund as an instrument to universalize water, within the parameters of the revised Sanitation Legal Framework, which provides for a public-private partnership.

Cyro Garcia (PSTU)

His six-page governing platform states that “Rio de Janeiro and Brazil need a socialist way out!” and that he wants to fight oppression against minorities and the working class, but it never mentions favelas directly.

Fred Luz (Partido Novo)

His nine-page governing platform does not mention favelas or communities at any point.

Glória Heloísa (PSC)

Her 30-page governing platform, based in Christian solidarity and connected to technocracy in public management, generically speaks of legalizing alternative transportation, a proposal that can affect favelas.

Henrique Simonard (PCO)

His 37-page governing platform, based on a resolution that is valid for all of his party’s candidates across the national decided at the National Conference of the Party of the Workers’ Cause, has as its “electoral tactic the defense of revolution and socialism,” and does not mention favelas or communities.

Marcelo Crivella (Republicanos)

The current mayor of Rio de Janeiro is a candidate for reelection. His 60-page governing platform brings a “sustainable mobility plan for community areas” and plans to “develop and launch an application with human rights information, with specific functions for denouncing violations and georeferencing.”

Suêd Haidar (PMB)

Her eight-page governing platform, which has no proposals directly for favelas, calls for the creation of a citizen governance council with popular participation, women’s economic empowerment, and the revision of the Rio de Janeiro Master Plan. However, Haidar’s plan also provides for the “reduction of subnormal occupied areas” (i.e. favelas).


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