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Rio favela advocate removed from office

To help you stay in touch with news from Brazil Catalytic Communities, which runs Rio Olympics Neighbourhood Watch, has just launched a News Digest. One of their latest stories features the removal of Roberta Fraenkel, the Co-ordinator of the Center for Land and Housing, a group which works for Rio's favela communities.

'On March 29, 2010 Nilson Bruno Filho, the Head of the Defensoria Publica (DPO) for Rio de Janeiro, relieved Attorney Roberta Fraenkel, from her duties as the Coordinator of the Center for Land and Housing (NUTH). His justification for this move was that he held Fraenkel personally responsible for the protest in front of the PDO on February 25th of 2011. Fraenkel’s “supposed” involvement in the protests provided Filho, and his cronies Eduardo Paes and Sergio Cabral, the perfect political pantalha, to fire the dedicated public servant. To fire her without justification would be “unprofessional,” but this event gave Filho enough ammunition to pull the trigger, and guaranteed there would be no negative political backlash towards his decision. Filho’s decision doesn’t come as a shocker to Mundo Real’s news team, and concerned citizens, considering Paes and Cabral’s obvious displeasure with Fraenkel, and her work with marginalized communities. The belief is that Fliho will now replace Fraenkel with someone more sympathetic with the aggressive reshaping of Rio de Janeiro.

During a recent meeting with Fraenkel, the look of concern was unmistakable. She was visibly shaken, but her concern was more for the future of Rio, rather than her own career. Fraenkel has confirmed the fears of many when she commented on the hundreds of favelas that are systematically being evicted, and the reality this practice will continue, with no end in site.

NUTH, established in 1989, one year after Brazil’s Federal Constitution became law, has been fundamental in slowing down city, state and private sector initiative’s drive to evict thousands of favelas dwellers across. Their team attorneys, including Alexandre Mendes and Adriana Britto, along with 25 legal aides, work tirelessly to help Rio’s favela communities, which are currently facing land and housing rights’ abuses.

Unfortunately, because of NUTH’s effectiveness Nilson decided to reduce the number of interns to around 10, hoping to significantly limit NUTH’s reach. Nilson’s timing is impeccable. Carnival season is over, and the hoopla surrounding President Barack Obama’s visit have subsided, giving Nilson the perfect window to make his move.

Nilson has promised to substitute Fraenkel, but fear is that her replacement will most certainly be someone who is willing to do Nilson’s bidding. However, insiders are convinced that Nilson is not the puppet master, more so the puppet, as he is increasingly doing the bidding of Paes and Cabral.'

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