Porto Alegre (Brazil): Squat opened (and left again) by anarchists

Demanding affordable housing and real action to address issues of homelessness and substandard housing in Brazil a group of anarchists broke off of the official world social forum march and squatted a three story house. The squat was organized by a coalition of Brazilian anarchist groups who wanted to show that Porto Alegre isn’t the social democratic paradise that the Workers Party (PT) makes it out to be.

The activists created inner tube shields and where encouraged by a radical drum ensemble which was a collaboration between musicians from the Infernal Noise Brigade in Seattle and Brazilian anarcho-drummers. Once the anarchist march split off of the official government sponsored protest they had no problem reaching the squat and breaking the door open. Inside the building activists found a wreck. The stairs had major portions missing and the floor threatened to give way. While the thousands of police in town for the ‘anarchist terror’ raced over to surround the block in their riot gear the activists hauled out scrap and built barricades in the street.

In Brazil a squatter needs to hold a building for 48 hours before the police are forced to go through the courts to evict. The squatters were had arranged to bring Naomi Klein and Michael Albert to give talks on globalization and participatory economics in the squat to hold the police back until after the critical 48 hours had past. Housing and access to land is a huge issue in Brazil. The Landless Peasants Movement, MST, has been squatting land and creating agricultural cooperatives for over 15 years. In that time they have reclaimed land and housing for over 2 million Brazilians. After the 48 hours the anarchist squatters were planning on turning the house over to a urban housing and unemployed group.

Unfortunately when they actually looked inside the building they found it to be in pretty bad shape. The second floor threatened to collapse in places and there was a four foot square section of the stairs missing. When faced with an overwhelming police force and a building that wasn’t safe the squatters that the activists organized a quick meeting of the squatting affinity group and they decided to avoid a confrontation of defending a building they couldn’t turn in to usable housing.

The action finished peacefully in a park where a general assembly was held to discuss the action and what future steps could be taken. In the protest there were anarchists from around the world including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, USA, Italy, Belgium, UK, Germany, and the former Yugoslavias among others.

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