Squatters against global gentrification

In november last year, Franscesca?s Cafe in East London, was occupied to keep it out of the hands of developers who acquired the council-owned property in what appears to be a dodgy deal with the notorious council. [background feature | campaign website ] Right next to London Fields park and the Regents canal, the area has long been considered desirable by developers. However, it’s not just communities in trendy parts of London that are being torn apart by gentrification.

In São Paulo, Brazil, major José Serra has made it his mission to ‘gentrify’ the city centre and ultimately expel thousands of the low-earning families and street dwellers. He wants to evict ‘Prestes Maia’, a 22 storey tower block, probably the biggest single squat in the whole

of South America which is home to 468 families, a library, workshops, and a venue for numerous autonomous educational, social and cultural activities. Now the ‘apparent owner’ wants it emptied. The ‘owner’ has accumulated a debt in municipal taxes of around 1.5 million pounds during the last 15 years of ‘ownership’ (more than he paid for the building). This, together with long years of abandonment, should justify a claim for the building to become public property, but despite this, a massive police operation paid for by public money was planned to make over 1,600 people homeless in the name of gentrification.

However, the residents of Prestes Maia have enjoyed a last minute reprieve and the eviction has been postponed for at least two months. Nether-the-less, on Thursday 16th, people in London held a solidarity demo outside the Brazillian Embassy In the evening, a film about Prestes Maia was screened at the rampART social centre along with a UK premiere of documentary about police violence in the favelas of Rio.

Online petition to save Prestes Maia http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?pmaia911