#StandWithFavelas—Support Us At This Critical Time

Following Brazil’s presidential election, we at Catalytic Communities (CatComm) are gravely concerned for the safety of the thousands of favela-based community organizers we have been supporting for eighteen years, and for indigenous and quilombola leaders across Brazil. Their lives and communities are now in direct risk from a man who, as a candidate and in his two and a half decades in public office, has shown utter disrespect for human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, affirmative action, and democracy in general.

Of particular concern to our work, his primary policy proposals towards favelas are of repression, whether towards land rights in treating occupations as ‘terrorism,’ or in encouraging extrajudicial killings by police. According to him, “the poor are only worth it for their votes… Only birth control [through sterilization] can save us from chaos.” Most recently, during his campaign, he also declared that “there will be no more NGOs,” that if he were elected his “[adversaries] would either go into exile or go to jail,” and that “activism will not be permitted” under his administration. He has shown a strong tendency towards reducing press freedoms, even since the election, and says he will end demarcation of indigenous and quilombola lands. 

For nearly two decades we at CatComm have been working towards a long-term vision, building the basis for a full-fledged community-led and community-controlled integration of favelas with the formal city. CatComm was founded on the basis of favela communities’ attributes, built over generations, that already existed but were unrecognized, and so we began a long-term mission of strengthening, recognizing, and building on that potential.

In the wake of the elections, all of these years of work may be upended or entirely interrupted. At the very least we will have to shift course. The CatComm team has come up with five courses of action, depending on the unfolding of the situation in Brazil, each of which would involve slight or large variations to our current programming. In all of them, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our collaborators and community organizers, in particular favela-based journalists and communicators. We will also continue to develop each one of our current programs:

  • RioOnWatch. Our favela news website will focus on solutions reporting, a growing line within our reporting which is proving even more essential in this age, not only with its over-emphasis on negative news but now almost predicated on fake news. Inspiring stories of how communities solve problems in Rio de Janeiro and around the world, what effective urban and public policy looks like from around the world, and other reporting can help bring desperately needed perspective and solutions to Brazil and around the world right now.
  • Favela Community Land Trusts. This program consists of collaborating with favela residents, technical supporters and government agencies to develop a legislative proposal and a pilot CLT in an interested community. A Favela CLT is an arrangement whereby when a favela receives land title, that title is separated between land and property, thus the community owns and manages the land collectively while residents individually own their properties and can sell or inherit them freely. It is a much stronger tenure security instrument than typical individual land titles, that pulverize the community fabric previously built by residents and encourage speculation. Favela CLTs also create an institution that now works collectively for perpetuity to ensure the best possible development of the community for its residents.
  • Sustainable Favela Network. This is a network comprised of over 100 initiatives working to build environmental sustainability and social resilience in favelas in Rio de Janeiro’s Metropolitan Region. Through this program, we have produced an award-winning short film showcasing sustainable qualities of favelas, collected and analyzed data on the projects included in the network, promoted a series of exchanges between initiatives, and organized an upcoming network-wide day of capacity-building. In the coming year, we will promote strategic trainings, further on-site knowledge transfer exchanges, investment in specific community sustainability programs and models, and the development of a Sustainable Favela Indicator.

In order to weather this difficult moment and carry on with our work, we need your support. The new president takes office on January 1st and we are counting on you to guarantee we have the financial resources necessary to implement our plans for 2019 and to protect favela organizers from the threat this mandate poses.

We need to reach our goal of $10,000 in monthly donations. Please donate today.*

Monthly donations are the most helpful, as they bring the dependable, sustained support we will need going forward, but one-time donations are also welcome. Please give what you can, however you can.

Monthly donations raised as of December 11, 2018: $3160, or 32%

*Please note this donation page is safe as our secure Qgiv donation link is simply masked behind RioOnWatch’s URL. The donation form is thus 100% secure because all processing takes place on Qgiv’s secure servers. Also: we’ll hold our traditional Rio Raffle when we reach our preliminary goal of $5,000 in monthly donations, and again at $7,500, and yet a third time when we reach our ultimate goal of $10,000. So if you sign up for recurring donations you’ll have a chance to win for each $10 you’ve donated towards this campaign when the Raffle is launched!

Who we are

Catalytic Communities (CatComm) is an 18-year-old community planning and advocacy nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status in the USA, working on-the-ground across hundreds of Rio’s favelas with local leaders and organizers.

What is a favela?

More on the threat posed by Brazil’s future president

Read below a collection of some of Bolsonaro’s most horrendous statements and views: