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Ocupa Mauá, São Paulo, Brazil

Standing up against eviction. The successful story of the squat Ocupa Mauá in São Paulo between 2007 and 2017, against evictions, Brazil.


Affordable and dignified housing has grown in concern in São Paulo, and Brazil in general. Many people have sought to go to São Paulo to find a job, however, many fail to find jobs, and those who hev jobs do not necessarily make a high enough salary to afford decent housing themselves. It is estimated that São Paulo has a housing deficit of 830.000, an estimated 15.000 people living on the streets, more than 200.000 vacant buildings, and an nemployment rate of 14 % [2]. And, on 2nd on November2017 20.000 homeless Brazilians marched the streets of São Paulo in protest to demand affordable housing in the city [4]. Having trouble finding a place to live, many citizens see squats around the city as solutions to offer them a home, as an alternative to living on the street or in slum tenements, locally known as ‘cortiços’.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ocupa Mauá, São Paulo, Brazil
State or province:São Paulo
Location of conflict:São Paulo
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Ocupa Mauá in the centre of São Paulo used to be called the Hotel Santos Dumont. The building was abandoned after the hotel closed in the 1980s – now many families live precariously in the building

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Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:1300
Start of the conflict:25/03/2007
End of the conflict:22/11/2017
Relevant government actors:- São Paulo City Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Ocupa Mauá
- Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD):
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Refusal of compensation
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Fostering a culture of peace
Application of existing regulations
Evictions avoided
Development of alternatives:Acquisition of the building complex. Purchased by the city, and devoted to social housing for low-income families and people.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:No evictions were carried out. However, gentrification processes are still highly active in the São Paulo city centre. Suspending the evictions was a victory in the short term, but these processes, as well as changing city governments, may pose a threat to the Ocupa Mauá in the long run.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] Paterniani, S.Z. (2018). Resisting, Claiming and Prefiguring: Movements for Dignified Housing in São Paulo. Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy, vol. 7 (2), p. 173-187.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Driven by poverty, squatters occupied a derelict São Paulo hotel. Now they face eviction
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[2] 20,000 Homeless Brazilians Marched 20 KM to Demand Affordable Housing in Sao Paulo
[click to view]

[4] Resistance! São Paulo's homeless seize the city
[click to view]

[5] Inside Crackland: the open-air drug market that São Paulo just can’t kick
[click to view]

[6] Community in São Paulo faces eviction
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[7] Victory for families in Brazil as eviction is cancelled
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update13/10/2018
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