Preventing a Favela Whitewashing

How a Tax Code Revision Can Mitigate the Danger of Bare Title Rights to Rio De Janeiro’s Slum Residents

For decades, government officials in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil have fought to remove favelas from the public view and displace their residents to new or existing favelas at the periphery of the city. The displacement of Rio de Janeiro’s urban poor poses a human rights dilemma where people who have lived on a plot of land for generations are forced to uproot their lives and start anew in areas where city resources to which they previously had access are no longer available. This Note discredits one posited solution to this pervasive issue: vesting favela residents with real title in the land upon which they are living. Although the idea is that vestment would result in the empowerment of slum residents by increasing their rights and providing a weapon against displacement efforts, this Note argues that a vestment solution fails when it is blindly applied without considering the city’s social, political, and economic histories and current climate of the city. Adopting this theory in Rio de Janeiro would increase gentrification and thus result in the same end result of human displacement. This Note posits that for title vestment to be successful, Rio de Janeiro city officials must accompany vestment with a revamping of its current property taxation code, zoning law, and title registration process.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.