SAO PAULO – Brazilian police used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a protest by people evicted from a shantytown in the southeastern city of Sao Jose dos Campos.
The police operation was intended to calm down dozens of former residents of the Pinheirinho “favela” who were trying to get back to their homes, according to images broadcast by Brazilian television.
Pinheirinho is a neighborhood of about 6,000 residents established eight years ago on the site of an abandoned factory in Sao Jose dos Campos, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Sao Paulo.
Some 2,000 police used force to clear the shantytown on Sunday as authorized by a court order in an operation that resulted in 32 arrests of people who tried to set fire to eight vehicles and attack the officers, according to the latest report.
About 600 residents had to move to a shelter set up by the municipal government near the neighborhood.
Authorities sealed the homes in the area and labeled the belongings of the former residents so that the city government can transport the items to a warehousing site and later return them to their owners, the official Agencia Brasil news service said.
Brazil’s influential MST Landless Movement on Monday condemned the clearing of Pinheirinho, calling is “an act of war.”
The governor of Sao Paulo state, Geraldo Alckmin, told the media on Monday that a judge was on hand for the police operation and will determine if abuses were committed or excessive force was used.
The MST claims to represent nearly 2 million landless and homeless people.
In its statement repudiating the operation, the MST reiterated the “urgent” need to reform the agrarian and urban system to resolve a nationwide housing deficit of 5.5 million units. EFE