More than 100 families are threatened with eviction from

Judge Gina Fonseca Corrêa, of the 1st Court of the District of Cajamar (SP), may decide at any time, which will define the future of 105 families. They have been living since 2019 in Ocupação dos Queixadas, in the metropolitan region of São Paulo. The request for repossession was filed by the brothers Aguinaldo and Vera Lúcia Zanotti, who claim to own the area.

The Public Defender of the State of São Paulo, in turn, understands that there are doubts about the real legal validity of the alleged property. In addition, even if the land is considered to be the rightful property of the two brothers, public defenders point out, the repossession should not occur, for reasons provided for by law, related to the constitutional duty to lend social function to the land, instead of leave it vacant.

As explained by public defender Rafael Negreiros, who works in defense of the right to housing of the occupying families, the Zanotti family “has a registry property”, but “strong evidence” demonstrates that the land “has not fulfilled its social function for decades”.

Or it didn’t, as it currently does, as a living space for more than 100 families that are occupants, as shown in the images below.

For the law, property and possession are different things. The first refers to who holds the title to the property. Possession, on the other hand, concerns the conduct, use, something that is exercised, in practice, in that area.

The allegation made in the lawsuit requesting the eviction is that the land was bought by Ernesto Zanotti, father of the brothers who claim to be owners, in 1988.

In the process, the family attached a purchase and sale agreement and an inventory, in which Ernesto Zanotti passes on the well to the children. The Defender’s Office points out, however, that the purchase document was never registered in a Real Estate Registry Office. The title of the property is in the name of who appears as the seller in the contract of the 1980s: João de Morais Tavares, now deceased.

In order to guarantee themselves as owners of the area, the brothers filed a claim for adverse possession, claiming – in addition to having the drawer contract and, thus, ownership, albeit precarious, of the land – they had been in the condition of owners of the area, until their property had been “invaded” by hundreds of families.

The problem is that, if they were entitled to ownership, the fact is that they did not carry it out. This is what the satellite images available on the Google Earth platform show. O Brazil in fact analyzed the photos and found that the area has been abandoned for at least 19 years – the entire historical period available in the image archive.

In the photos below, you can see how the land is practically the same in 2002 and 2018, without any construction, agricultural or animal activity. The third image is from 2021, already with the Occupation of the Queixadas, which is organized together with the Movimento Luta Popular.

The report tried to contact the Zanotti brothers, but had no answers.

::Judge disregards rules and determines the eviction of more than 200 families in SP::

The Constitution, land ownership and the maneuver of the city of Cajamar

The Federal Constitution determines that the right to land ownership is not absolute, but conditioned on the fulfillment of its social function. In 2016, the Zanotti family filed a claim for adverse possession of the land. Usucapião is an action for cases in which a property is occupied for more than five years without anyone having questioned this occupation in court. If it is recognized that the squatter is making social use of the property, the court will transfer the property to his name. In the case of the Zanotti family, the adverse possession action is still pending.

Two years ago, when the Occupation of the Queixadas emerged, the region was categorized as a Special Zone of Social Interest (ZEIS), that is, an area demarcated to be used as housing for the low-income population.

Under the management of Danilo Joan (PSD), however, the City Hall and the City Council of Cajamar approved, in the same year that the families occupied the land, a change that, according to the Specialized Nucleus for Housing and Urbanism of the Defender’s Office Public sector of São Paulo, is not frequent in Brazilian urban legislation. In the Cajamar Macrozoning plan, precisely this area was removed from its ZEIS status.

::Federal Justice revokes repossession against MST community in Castro (PR)::

Demonstrating strangeness with the change, the Defender’s Office points out that in addition to this “consolidated urbanized area” having lost its status as a destination for social housing, the municipal power started to consider another region as ZEIS, “with native forest and little consolidated infrastructure”.

The analysis is contained in a request for land title regularization (Reurb-S) of the Occupation of the Queixadas, made by the Public Defender’s Office and delivered to the City of Cajamar in May this year. In the document, the agency discusses the technical and legal feasibility of what it argues is the best way to resolve the impasse.

SEE ALSO: “We are treated like worms” says a resident of a community threatened with eviction in SP

Consolidation of the Occupation of the Queixadas

At the end of August this year, the municipality of Cajamar responded saying that the request “does not deserve” to be accepted. There are two main arguments in the City Hall’s position – signed by the manager of the Housing Department, Camila Barreto; and the municipal secretary of Mobility and Urban Development, Leandro Arantes.

The first is that, for the City of Cajamar, the occupation is not consolidated. As an example, he says that the buildings are precarious and that there are no public facilities there.

This is not what the residents of the Occupation of Queixadas point out. “From our unity and collective strength, we managed to guarantee in our neighborhood access to the basic rights that are denied to us”, describes a pamphlet made by residents of the Occupation of Queixadas as part of the mobilization against eviction.

Then, the text lists the “Yara Gabrielly Library, Bisa Cecília Community Garden; Space for tutoring and literacy classes for young people and adults; Queixadinhas Toy Library”, in addition to the construction of the collective shed, which is being carried out in partnership with a project for extension of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at USP.

In a petition delivered to the Court by community lawyers on September 23, the defense highlights that the houses are made of wood and masonry, with “rooms where all belongings and electrical-electronic equipment” of the people are found, indicating a “perspective of permanence and not of a ‘transit place’, fully integrated to the social, work and family dynamics” of those who live there.

In relation to public facilities, the defense of the Queixadas emphasizes that the families are registered and systematically monitored by the Social Assistance Reference Center (CRAS) and that the community’s children (there are 92) are enrolled in the two municipal public schools in the neighborhood.

“We plant, we harvest, here we have our parties, our meetings, our assemblies. Here is our little piece of ground”, summarizes resident Taina Venâncio.

The second argument given by the City of Cajamar to deny the request for regularization is that there are usucapião and repossession actions in progress, and that it would be a very high expense to start a procedure in the area before the end of the litigation.

Defining the City Hall’s position as “commode”, Negreiros warns that this type of posture “leads to an inertia of municipal administrations, which do not exercise the duty to regulate the occupation of urban land”.

More than simply questionable, the defender emphasizes that “the municipality’s position is contrary to the understanding of Law 13,465, which states that the municipality must be the mediator of land conflicts, making every effort to achieve a peaceful solution”.

O Brazil in fact tried, with six phone calls and the sending of four e-mails over the course of a week, to contact the City of Cajamar – including to find out what measures will be taken if there is an eviction of families whose housing problem is not being resolved by the municipal government . But there was no answer.

SEE ALSO: 10 days after eviction, farmer illegally advances on Quilombo Campo Grande (MG)

Eviction in pandemic

The suspension of evictions during the Coronavirus pandemic has been coming and going throughout the pandemic, in different spheres of power. Both President Jair Bolsonaro and São Paulo Governor João Dória vetoed bills aimed at safeguarding the right to a roof during the biggest health crisis of the century.

This Monday (27), Congress overturned the presidential veto and the suspension of evictions will go into effect until December 31st. This measure is in addition to a decision by the Supreme Court (STF) in June that banned – for six months or until the pandemic lasts – forced removals in Brazil.

The promoter of the Occupation of the Queixadas action requests that the repossession be done, as a matter of urgency, on December 10th.

Edition: Vinícius Segalla

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