Emine greets Monica Garrido with a beijinho, the little kiss Brazilians use to greet one another, indicating trust and affection. Emine will be losing four meters of her yard so that utility lines can be laid. But she can keep her house, which is the good news. And there’s even better news: from now on, she is the legal owner of her property, although she’ll have to pay for water and electricity, which she’s been drawing illegally up until now. “That’s okay for us,” Emine says.
Below on the unpaved main street, the corner store below the Didas Bar is putting up a heavy grating made of rectangular steel in front of the door. Inside there are canned goods, candies, soap, sandals. A sign says that credit cards can only be accepted for purchases greater than 10 reals, which is equal to about 3 euros.
Didas Bar is still closed. From its rooftop terrace, there is a good view over Pimentas. In the foreground are the houses of the favela. Densely packed, they run down to the valley. An airplane rumbles overhead every couple of minutes; São Paulo’s international airport is just around the corner.
The Pros Beat the Cons
In the background you can see the brand-new apartment blocks of Guarulhos Z. Their construction was also overseen by TÜV SÜD— at least when construction was in full swing. Whenever the city and country ran out of money the project came to a grinding halt.But several of the new buildings were finished two years ago, and the favela residents who were forced to give up their houses in Pimentas have moved. It’s a dramatic change for them. On the one hand, they’ve lost their property in the slum, but there they lived illegally and always in fear of crime, drugs and violence. Now their dwellings have suddenly been legalized, with all the attendant rights and obligations: such as the requirement to pay for rent, electricity and water, which cost around 60 euros per month altogether. But for this sum, the renters not only live there, but are also gradually purchasing ownership of their apartments, bit by bit.
Thus the advantages outweigh the costs for the majority of the residents. It’s safe in the new development. Tenants’ associations are forming, there are playgrounds for the children, as well as schools, shops and a bus station, from which residents can ride into the city to their workplaces. Previously they often spent four hours in transit every day to get to work. Now, with the express bus, it takes just thirty minutes to get downtown.
Upon our return, we see a man attempting to drive his car up the muddy path to his home. It’s an uphill battle. The driver leans out the window and calls out, “Hey, friends, get this crap cleaned up first. You’ve got a lot to do!”