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VILA BRANDÃO - Quilombo urbano: No to expropriations!

Silvia Jura 25.03.2009 16:27
Resistance in the heart of Salvador
Vila Brandão is a peaceful - 200 families - community, having conquered a very special place in the heart of Salvador, with a gorgeous view over La Bahia de Todos os Santos.
But having a serious problem since march 20th, 2009 - a decree of total expropriation has been emitted by the city council! A case of big real estate speculation and social and racial repression!
A little history…
The first residents came in the 1940’s and stayed. They started building simple clay-houses on the inaccessible hillside, making a living from casual labor, gardening and fishing.
Seu Antonio, Pae de Santo, is considered the founder of Vila Brandão – he just died in 2007, at the age of 103 years.

Nowadays, life in Vila Brandão is very quiet, the residents have different backgrounds – many are Brandão-born or living here since childhood, some came from the interior, some are artists, working class people, strangers, teachers… They are open to guests, a place of hospitality. The houses are nice, clean, connected to the water and electricity-nets of town. People are paying local ground taxes.
And for the rest – they are absolutely self-organized - no help from the city.
No streets, nearly no public illumination, no cleaning. No kindergarden. No health-station. No social project. No cultural point.
Roberval, Edson and Sergipe take care of the sea, they’re fishermen with small wooden, handmade boats, Dora and Alex are experts in local plants and little Allison already knows all about bird-breeding… Dona Raimunda organized the administration of the community for many years.
The residents are taking care of the nature, providing the neighbourhood free and safe access to a small beach!
And the women – Patricia, Petruska, Ana Pi, Laura, Alda – they are leading the movement against expropriation!
All is self-organized. And, by the way, Vila Brandão has the lowest criminality rate of Salvador!

Quilombo means resistance
But you won’t believe that life is paradise - Vila Brandão is always involved in some kind of a fight...
The city of Salvador doesn’t support the community – so every day life is very complicated. But there are continuously problems with the yacht club, which invades the public land, which the community takes care of step by step.
Highlights in the last years fights were:
• fishermen had to fight for free access to the sea – the adversary is the yachtclub;
• residents fight for a children’s park: neither the city, nor the yachtclub, nor the upper class neighbours help. On the contrary: the yachtclub destroys the small park!
• the most expensive real estate in town - casa wildenberg – is direct neighbour: big discussions between investors, authorities, priests and politicians, using the residents of vila brandão as „the social argument“!

And now, Vila Brandão is in danger of expropriation!
João Henrique, the major of Salvador, has a big heart for real estate - and good connections.
Based on the deliberated PDDU (December 2008) – the urban direction of construction – through his deputies in a early morning marathon session, the way has now been opened to a skyscraper invasion on the seaside, buildings up to 18 floors! Don’t think about the ecological and urban results of such a policy!
And – of course – now it is time to get back good lands on the seaside – and the territory of Vila Brandão is one of the best in town. No place for poor people, no place for black people, no place for resistance in the center of the bourgeois dreams!
We’re talking about a total area of 17.000 m2 in Salvador’s top location – still not exactly defined.
Behind the story, there is a real estate fight between the mysterious construction company Marka and the Yachtclub about a piece of land of 360 m2 which became 2.200m2, after getting the construction license for an apart-hotel in the green area besides Vila Brandão, through the authorities…
An other company - ImoCom, portuguese multinational already involved in the Hotel-Hilton mega project in comercio, is claiming through the press the ownership of 17.000 m2, including the territory of Vila Brandão...
And, just by the way, a 3-4 years ago, Imocom still bought a resident’s house…and wanted to buy more!
The city council decides to expropriate – first of all: Vila Brandão, and a small piece of land of the Yachtclub.... to create public space...

Vila Brandão says no to expropriation!
The women of Vila Brandão have been active organizing a local action and an international solidarity campaign. The support of social movements in Salvador and of local lawyers permits to fight the expropriation-decree on a legal level.
The Vila is open to cultural events on sunday, some residents already met president Lula to give him the necessary information.
An international petition is online, signatures are urgently needed! Please help to spread it!

more information’s at
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