9.3.14

THE CYNICS CALLED URBAN RENEWAL "NEGRO REMOVAL."

Cleaning up the neighborhood for the Olympics is much the same.
Countries that host Olympic games are always eager to show the world their best sides and in the case of the residents of Sochi that meant a number of people living in towns near Olympic facilities contributed to the redevelopment of Sochi in order to help it become the magnificent venue it was.
Take Vesyoloye. Please.
On Akatsiy street, for example, the residents have for years had neither running water nor a sewage system. The communal outhouse that the residents enjoyed using was ordered to be torn down by a judge because authorities said it was an eyesore, being adjacent to the new super highway being built. (The judge ordering its destruction told the residents to get an eco toilet. Some residents told reporters they were using buckets instead.) The $635 million highway that was built to get people in and out of Sochi cut many of Vesyoloye’s residents off from the city center. One resident on that street told a reporter: “Everyone was looking forward to the Olympics. We just never thought they would leave us bang in the middle of a federal highway!” Thousands of people in Sochi were dislocated and promised new homes that three weeks before the beginning of the games had not been provided. Some Sochi residents who had not been displaced had a new neighbor in the form of a dump that was created to contain Olympic construction waste. Construction waste has polluted rivers and streams. Although the affected residents contributed to the success of the Olympics in their modest ways, none of them was given tickets to any of the events. It should not be hard to organize a group to visit Rio in order to tell its citizens what to anticipate. They may be too late.
So far, of the BRIC emerging countries, only India has opted out of the Olympic hosting derbies. That Chicago lost out to Rio led to more than a few sighs of relief in Illinois. The plans for additional facilities did involve planned slum-clearing, if not on the Brazilian scale.
In some areas where the government has made efforts to relocate residents so the slums can be redeveloped in preparation for the World Soccer Cup and the Olympic games, residents have resisted. Commenting on events, Christopher Gaffney, a professor at Rio’s Fluminense Federal University said: “These events were supposed to celebrate Brazil’s accomplishments, but the opposite is happening. We’re seeing an insidious pattern of trampling on the rights of the poor and cost overruns that are a nightmare.” Evictions are taking place in slums all over the city. In some places those who refused to move continue to live in the rubble left when their slum dwellings were destroyed. The owner of one slum dwelling that was razed to make way for an express way was told by the government she could accept $2,300 for her house when adjacent residences were selling for $50,000, accept an apartment in a distant housing project or take nothing. The replacement apartment she was given is 35 miles from the center of Rio.
Urban renewal, Model Cities, hero projects, public-private back-scratching partnerships.  Unfortunately, there's no expression in Portuguese or Russian for Takings Clause.

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