Rio Olympics Protests
Residents from the Vila Autodromo favela blocked Abelardo Bueno Avenue while chanting during a protest against construction work for the Rio 2016 Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro April 1, 2015. Reuters

Demonstrators from Vila Autodromo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, took to the city’s streets Wednesday to protest the planned demolition of their community ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The group of about 30 protestors from the favela, or squatter settlement, caused miles of gridlock in Rio as they marched in opposition to their impending eviction.

Most of the favela’s 600 families have accepted compensation deals from city officials to move off their land, which the government plans to convert into access roads and security structures for Olympic Park, according to the Guardian. Some of the offers to leave have reached as high as 2.7 million reals (US$853,674). But approximately 50 groups of residents have refused to leave Vila Autodromo, despite unreliable utilities and increasingly lucrative offers.

“City Hall has never had any patience to properly negotiate with us. Now it’s time to shout about our pain, our exclusion,” Vila Autodromo resident Inalva Brito, 69, told Reuters.

Remaining Vila Autodromo residents have reportedly disputed officials’ claim that they’ll use the land to build roads and instead expect the area to be converted into high-end housing after the Olympics end. Rio mayor Eduardo Paes has approved measures that could force these families to leave Vila Autodromo if they do not agree to willingly do so. The evicted residents would still be compensated, but without the leverage afforded by settlements reached ahead of construction.

“We have to challenge the expropriating decree. This is not in society’s interest. It is not legal. It will change our lives, but for whose sake,” Brito told the Guardian. “The Olympics is spitting in our face.”

A report by the Popular Committee on Mega-Events and Human Rights Violations, a Rio-based anti-Olympics groups, found three-fourths of the city’s recent evictions were enacted due to the 2014 FIFA World Cup or the 2016 Summer Olympics. Several other organizations, including Amnesty International and the Brazilian Institute of Architects, have condemned the actions of city officials.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Brazilian cities ahead of the World Cup last June to protest the nation’s decision to spend billions on a sports event instead of improving infrastructure. In those instances, police repeatedly used tear gas to disperse the crowds.