Mobilising support example:
The Linha Community Resists
|Organisation||The Linha Community Resists|
SummaryThe Comunidade da Linha is a low-income settlement of approximately 700 inhabitants. Since 2012, the community has been fighting against the Transnordestina company, which in 1997 obtained the concession for a railway network in the Northeast and now, 25 years later, is trying to vacate an area around the railway line, obtaining eviction orders for the families living there, without offering an alternative. Under these circumstances, and based on the demolition notice, the Linha Community Resists movement has held protests and launched several campaigns that have led to delays in the eviction of families and the destruction of their homes.
The Linha community in the Ibura neighbourhood in Recife, Pernambuco, is a low income settlement marked by the absence of basic sanitation, which contains approximately 700 residents of which more than 80% are black and 66.5% are women. The average income of most families is below one minimum wage. This data comes from socio-economic research conducted by the community itself to incorporate into its legal fight.
Since 2012, the community has been fighting against an eviction order filed by the Transnordestina company which, in 1997, obtained the concession for a Northeast railroad network and now, 25 years later, is claiming repossession of an area around the railway line that cuts through the community. In 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict intensified, when one of the lawsuits was judged in favour of the company, condemning an initial 20 families to forced eviction without alternative housing.
In order to disperse the residents, the company decided to divide the lawsuit into five separate court cases linked to the size of the areas to be vacated around the railway line, which vary from 6 to 21 metres. The smallest of these threatens 155 residences, while the largest would affect 210. Twenty residencies have already been served a sentence of demolition.
Under these circumstances, and based on the demolition notice, the Linha Community Resists movement has held protests and launched various campaigns which have led to delays in the expulsion of families and the destruction of their houses.
The community has raised public awareness in the city with a demonstration on a busy avenue, with wide media coverage, especially because of the health restrictions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the slogan "stay at home". A contradiction, since the recommendation to stay at home was broken by the State itself, through a concessionary company that promotes forced evictions.
In this context, a number of advisors and social movements joined the residents, and the Linha Community Resists Collective was formed. This coalition came up with a series of tactics to mobilise support, involving lobbying in the territory, mobilising residents through assemblies, movie theatre debates, cultural activities and door-to-door canvassing.
Through the Grassroots Human Rights Centre (Centro Popular de Direitos Humanos: CPDH) and the Architecture, Urbanism and Society Cooperative (Cooperativa Arquitetura Urbanismo e Sociedade: CAUS) social studies were conducted and urban alternatives developed for the conflict. These studies were presented in public hearings in Recife’s Council Chamber and led to the opening of an inter-institutional negotiating table to seek a housing solution for the community.
Another important front was engagement in the National Zero Evictions Campaign, a network of social movements and organisations from all over the country, united against evictions in 2020; this national mobilisation led to the suspension of evictions during the pandemic in Brazil through a measure of the Supreme Court initially until the end of 2021, being extended first until March 2022, then until June and, at the moment, until October 2022.
Which stakeholders (NGO’s, government, private sector) did you identify as allies and how did you involve them?
Homeless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto: MTST)
Unified Homeless Movement (Movimento Unificado dos sem Teto: MUST)
Grassroots Human Rights Centre (Centro Popular de Direitos Humanos: CPDH)
Cooperative for Architecture, Urbanism and Society (Cooperativa Arquitetura Urbanismo e Sociedade: CAUS)
National Zero Evictions Campaign (Campanha Nacional Despejo Zero)
Residents of the neighbourhood
Political and financial support from Councillor Ivan Moraes, Councillor Dani Portela, and Co-Deputies
Space and Politics Laboratory (Laboratório Espaço e Política) at the Federal University of Pernambuco (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco: UFPE)
Institutional lobbying was also carried out, mobilising actors such as the Federal Public Defender’s Office (Defensoria Pública da União: DPU) and the Department of Public Prosecutions (Ministério Público: MP)
The mobilisation of all these actors took place, for example, to support meetings, assemblies, public acts, legal advice, research, an urban plan, communication campaign, among other actions.
Which stakeholders did you identify as neutral and how did you mobilise them?
Municipal authorities and the State Government, which have no direct interest in the area and say that the process is federal. They were involved in public hearings and pressurised to form the inter-institutional negotiating table
Which stakeholders did you identify as opponents and why were they opposed?
Transnordestina Company, concessionary of the railway network that claims ownership of the area in which the Linha Community is located.
How did you involve your beneficiaries in the stakeholder analysis/campaign?
We held ongoing meetings to debate the coalition’s direction and define the next steps. Constant contact helped several residents get involved in the activities at different times and we continue to mobilise in the territory today.
Short description of the organisation implementing the action/campaign
The Comunidade da Linha Resiste is a collective articulated between residents, technical advisors and social movements, emerged in 2021 from the context of violations of rights and aggravation of conflicts involving the Comunidade da Linha, in Recife/Pernambuco, and the company Transnordestina , with threats of removal from the community. This network carried out several actions such as mobilisation of residents in assemblies, movie theatre debates, cultural activities,
political advocacy actions with the executive, legislative and judicial powers, realisation of social and urban studies, in addition to communication actions and campaigns. Other actors were also involved, such as social movements, universities, parliamentarians, as well as national networks to fight evictions. These actions resulted in the postponement of the expulsion of the families and the destruction of the houses. We do not have a hierarchical structure, we decide everything in assemblies and meetings, always taking the community’s wishes into account, within the constraints of each situation.
February 2021 - present
1. To avoid evictions in the Linha Community
2. To seek out housing alternatives for the families who had to be removed.
3. To strengthen the fight for the Right to the City.
1. In addition to the community mobilisation, we would like to highlight a victory in the negotiations, with the reduction in the size of the eviction area suggested by Transnordestina and, consequently, in the number of families to be removed.
2. Indication from the municipal authorities of the donation of a nearby plot of land to resettle the affected families.
3. We are currently starting a university extension project, with the Space and Politics Laboratory at the UFPE.
Description of preparatory activities
1. Communications campaign.
2. Social study.
3. Emergency mobilising support plan.
4. Influencing public authorities.
5. Following up legal cases.
Description of implementation
1. Creating a visual identity to promote the community's struggle both inside and outside the territory, drawing attention to the forced evictions.
2. In order to make the real impact public, through a community census, denouncing the number of vulnerable people in the territory.
3. Alternative urban plan with land regularisation as an alternative to forced removals. This was drafted in a partnership between residents and technical advisors.
4. Promoting meetings and public hearing sessions.
5. Monitoring of legal actions against the community, with the support of technical advisors; support from public bodies such as the Public Defender's Office and the Federal Public Ministry was also sought.
Expenditure included food, transport and equipment rental, communication costs.
We had support from Councillors Ivan Moraes and Dani Portela, funding from the CPDH, in addition to two projects approved by CESE.
Monitoring took place continuously through meetings and assemblies.